China Ready, Tourism, Destination Marketing, Uncategorized

So, What Makes L.A.’s Go123 Hopper Shuttle Bus the Poster Child for China Ready?

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Go123’s Mr Hoppy Rides in to Town

Serial entrepreneur David Huang, owner of Chinese Host Inc., had a dream. In reality he has many. Huang, was born in Guangzhou. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was very young. Although he has roots in China, he grew up and was exposed to the L.A. “let’s make a deal” environment.

He also developed a passion for travel, tourism and the great outdoors. He became a tour guide, he obtained a commercial bus drivers license, he ran a bus company, he bought a couple of buses, he started a tour company, he started a DMC in Las Vegas, he built a reservation system for Chinese travel producers, he built his own bus company, he started a Chinese receptive firm, he opened offices in China and today David Huang owns the largest and most respected Chinese Travel company in the western USA, Chinese Host Inc., (CHD), generating over one million visitors since 2011.

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David Huang

David always did things the right way, which is not always the way all Chinese operators work. Tales of fake log books, forced shopping stops, unlicensed companies, even bus drivers handing over sums of cash in brown paper bags – all horrify David, as it gives Chinese bus operators a bad reputation. He wanted to take the most professional path. Safety first and foremost……..Licensed, bonded, $5M insurance liability on every bus……and purchased a nice selection of Prevost coaches as they are ISO 14001 certified for environmental sustainability. He even recruited a National Park Service ranger to train the tour guides, as David wanted the best customer experience possible. Quality over quantity.

As David’s reputation grew over 25 years, industry organizations asked David to assist in their China marketing and business strategies. National Tour Association, Receptive Services Association, North American Journeys, State of Nevada, Las Vegas Convention Authority, Los Angeles Visitor Bureau (and many more) have David’s fingerprints all over their China programs.

David has always had his finger on the pulse. Always in the game. More importantly he could see where the game was headed. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

David was born China Ready. He didn’t need China Ready education. It’s in his DNA.

He foresaw the tsunami of Chinese tourists flooding into North America. He saw the growth in Chinese airlines coming to America. (Over 250 flights a week now including US carriers). He saw the over US$1 billion in subsidies given to the 4 Chinese airlines serving America given by local Chinese governments. He knew they would require transportation needs to get them around unfamiliar surroundings, getting them to enjoy the things they want to do – shopping, attractions, museums, etc. At the same time David realized that the demographic profile and psychographic behaviors were changing. Younger, better educated, affluent, e-connected, and independent. They desired the freedom to make their own choices in travel. Chinese travel producers, such as the mega OTA Ctrip, also saw the trends and began planning modular travel segments making it easier for travel agents and consumers to build their own trips. Times, they (still) are a’changing.

Driven by insight, David swiftly developed a Chinese dedicated transportation system for Greater Los Angeles, that would cater to the more independent Chinese traveler. Not a tour bus but a shuttle bus transit system with a hop-on hop-off model. This was the soft opening of Go123 Hopper. Five routes traveling to the “must see” destinations in L.A. and down to Anaheim.  

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There were several strict criteria.

  • Every bus licensed, bonded and carrying $5M liability
  • Seat belt at every seat
  • Each bus with a Chinese speaking driver
  • Each bus WiFi enabled
  • Video screen in each bus
  • Free Apple and Android apps
  • QR codes enabling download of real time GPS maps
  • Details on what to do on the route plus offers

Go123 Hopper was presented to top DMO officials who all embraced the transit system enthusiastically; as did the local area attractions, shopping, dining and other points of interest.

CHD then ensured the program was loaded in to its own booking engine and introduced to the top travel producers in China. Ctrip made a special trip to test the service. The result of that trip was “two thumbs up” and immediately placed Go123 Hopper into in packages that can be purchased as part of the “Modular” travel trend.

Following this, numerous travel companies jumped on the Go123 Hopper bus. A B2B campaign followed reaching 2,000 Chinese travel agencies, wholesalers and OTA’s. A Chinese B2C campaign ensued introducing Mr. Hoppy, a whimsical Chinese style animation of a Go123 Hopper bus.

Its amusing to see the creative process at work. It’s fun to follow the flow from smart phone scribble to consumer ad seen today throughout China and Hong Kong. 

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Smart phone scribble to consumer ad in Simplified Chinese (Ad design FourthIdea, Buffalo)

Today, Ctrip feature Go123 Hopper in over 20 packages. The growing list of travel producers now include Lulutrip, Haiwan, Tuniu, ToursForFun, usitrip, Majestic and more.

Go123 Hopper checks all the boxes for the newly renamed F.I.T market in China (Fully Independent Travel). It provides safe transportation in a city where even other Americans prefer not to drive, Chinese speaking and knowledgeable drivers, freedom to explore greater Los Angeles from Universal to Disney, free e-maps on demand, free route apps, destination information, hop on – hop off, and of course WiFi connected.

This is the ultimate poster child for being China Ready but I strongly believe this carries way beyond a great example of China Ready. This clearly spells out W-E-L-C-O-M-E. After all isn’t that what being a great host is all about, I applaud the Southern Californian DMO’s for their forward thinking and David Huang as the best Chinese Host you will find this side of the Pacific.

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Uncategorized

Seriously, the egg…..it’s no yolk in this Year of the Monkey!

Basic RGBAs millions of Chinese travel to celebrate the Lunar New Year, about 6 million will travel overseas. That, according to Ctrip, will be a record number. This seven day travel period (Spring Festival) is similar in travel to our Christmas vacation. It is a seven day National Holiday. Normally, Chinese travel home to enjoy the New Year with family. That is tradition. Clearly, the new tradition is to travel internationally. The most popular destinations being Thailand, South Korea, Australia and America. Interestingly, over 20% are modular travel purchases for the growing F.I.T (Flexible Independent Travel) or Semi-F.I.T. This new descriptor for the old F.I.T. acronym is fast catching on and I have been writing about this phenomena these past several months.

What is fueling the record numbers? Relaxed Visa restrictions, more flights, new destinations where people want to go discover, competitive fares, and big discounts as travel producers fight for market share.

Now, what about the Egg. No more egging you on here. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…too many soft balls here!) The Egg is one of the most sought after travel accessories this Spring Season. It is a small battery powered WiFi mobile gateway (you guessed it) the size of an egg. It connects to WiFi and WiMax networks. Big in Asia, catching on in Europe and soon to reach our shores. Look out for this WiFi egg gizmo as Chinese travelers will make this a must have travel product. So, as I said, without egg-azeration, it’s no yolk.

Meanwhile ….. Good Luck and Great Fortune for the Year of the Monkey.

🐒年洪吉!

 

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