The Second Wave. Chinese Traveler Evolution. IPW Take Aways.


New Orleans is a city I have enjoyed since the late 1970’s when I worked for the Royal Orleans in the French Quarter. It was a 5 Star classic. Sadly, a little tired today and a realization that one can’t turn back the hands of time. But those of us old and wise enough can gain insight from the past.

New Orleans was the setting for US Travel Association’s 2016 IPW this week. The 48th in its long history.

The good news from IPW, as far as the Chinese market is concerned,  is that the first wave of cheapo bus tours is thankfully evolving to a more manageable and more sophisticated F.I.T and Semi F.I.T market. Will the cheapo tours disappear? Not really, but they will become the minority. Cramming Chinese visitors on a bus, (hopefully licensed and bonded – many are not!) with an untrained “tour guide” whose only interest is up-sell, forced stops and kick backs is not exactly the American Experience professional tour companies and destinations want to be a part of.

The better news is that the Second Wave of Chinese visitors is emerging. I call this the Second Wave as there will be many waves in the tsunami of Chinese visitors coming to visit North America. These waves are reminiscent of the 80’s and 90’s when other regions of the world discovered our shores, attractions and incredible National and State Parks from Yellowstone to Niagara Falls. The more often they visited the further and more independent and curious they became.

What makes up the Chinese Second Wave? Demographically, they are in their early thirties, live in major cities, well educated, and have the money to travel. Psychographically, they are tech savvy, independent and adventurous. They wouldn’t be seen dead on a crammed tour bus of people twice their age. They have done their research on Chinese sites like Weibo, Baidu and daodao. They have made their plans and booked the air, lodging and sometimes their car rental. Sometimes within 3 weeks of arrival!

As the tourism waves from a generation ago moved slowly to be defined, the new Chinese waves are moving at warp speed. So for those in our industry that want the cheapo tours (and everything that represents) – better not burn your bridges with Chinese Operators here in the USA that have put their money on the F.I.T market. Chinese Second Wave visitors will travel beyond the major cities and popular National Parks. Watch out for the Third and Fourth Waves of Chinese visitors whose numbers are predicted to reach 23 million in the next 5 short years.

Three Points

1. FIT and Semi FIT – (Fully Independent Travel) More and more OTA’s are getting prepared for the increase in independent outbound travelers. These travelers want to do their own thing in planning and booking their vacation. OTA’s and other travel producers are giving them the tools to do it. Baidu continues to provide the search and planning forum.If you are a DMO have bundled itineraries in Mandarin available, then work with your favorite receptives to spread the word. I am asked for modular packages daily from our partner OTA’s in China.

2. Union Pay, WeChat Pay, Ali Play – Financial transactions will see many battles to manage the spend of the outbound Chinese traveler. This is a multi billion dollar war. Get connected to the institutions and display their stickers in your establishments. This is the real China Ready action item. It says “We welcome you”

3. AliTravel – Part of the Alibaba group (compare to Amazon) have millions of members in China. They are young, well educated and have the means to travel. AliTravel are looking to establish US based merchants on their China site with travel products their consumer members can purchase. This has to be a package that be be purchased “off the shelf” consumer direct.

***NOLA Foodie Alert***

PS. Nothing to do with Chinese visitors but if you want a memorable New Orleans ‘farm to table’ dining experience, you must check out Coquette. 2 miles from the French Quarter near the Garden District on Magazine. Simply amazing and pocket book friendly!


A collection of the largest independently owned U.S. based Chinese travel companies create groundbreaking alliance

TGTA Official Logo

The formal launch of The Grand Travel Alliance was announced today in Las Vegas. The announcement will bring together some of America’s largest, most professional and respected Chinese travel companies.

The founding alliance members on the West Coast are America Asia Travel Center and Chinese Host. Other Alliance members, in different U.S. regions, will be announced soon. The purpose of The Grand Travel Alliance is to provide a one-stop shop where travel producers and Chinese consumers can find and book the best products and services assembled under one roof.

The broad range of products will include lodging, day tours, multi-day tours, attractions, transportation, shuttle bus services, National Parks, shopping, shows, dining and more, in the most preferred Chinese visited destinations in North America. Alliance members will also consolidate and integrate bus operations where appropriate, similar to the “code sharing” model within airline groups, and its members will be in full compliance with the recent Chinese government’s Tourism Laws outlawing forced stops, unlogged drivers and deceptive pricing.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce – National Travel and Tourism Office, there will be almost 5 million Chinese visitors to the USA by 2018 and they will continue to outpace other countries and become the number one source market. Other sources such as Boyd Aviation predict 23 million visitors in the next 5 years.

Bob Gilbert (Partner, Chinese Host Inc. – CHD) is the Executive Director of the Alliance and noted that, “In this memorable Year of Tourism between the USA and China, The Grand Travel Alliance is a tremendous resource and will partner with DMO’s, independent lodging and chains, attractions, shopping partners, and a vast array of operators offering visitors many activities that will enhance the Chinese visitor experience. The Alliance brings together the “best of the best” and in addition to groups, there will be a focus on the fast growing F.I.T segment.”

Helen Koo, owner of America Asia Travel Center and Super Vacation added, “The Alliance represents a breakthrough by creating the most professional collection of independently owned, well-respected and authoritative leaders serving Chinese travelers to and within North America. Our collective strength is robust and keeps us very competitive”

David Huang, president of CHD said, “The Alliance is a game changer in the market and the members respect and complement each other very well. We can all retain our independence and leverage our collective strengths. In addition, we have invested heavily in developing the Alliance proprietary booking engine connecting Alliance members with each other as well as with leading travel producers in China. Its functionality includes reservation and transactional processing, rooming list and bus manifest management, and more.”

About The Chinese Travel Alliance 
The goal of The Grand Travel Alliance is to become the leading independently owned Chinese travel group in North America serving Chinese travelers offering the widest range of competitive product and highest levels of service whilst providing reservation system to Chinese travel producers and consumers. The mission is to increase market share and profitability by leveraging the individual strengths and expertise of the Alliance Partner members through the aggregated buying power, supplier relationships, sales distribution channels, transportation, and a transactional reservation system that will become the first choice for travel producers, customers, suppliers and destinations. Collectively, The Grand Travel Alliance current members have over 50 years of hands on expertise with China and Chinese travelers, operate over 70 DOT licensed and bonded buses, numerous offices in the USA and throughout China as well as 30 retail offices, 300 employees, and served over 2 million Chinese visitors over the past 5 years.

For more information contact: info@thegrandtravelalliance.com

About Chinese Host Inc. 
Chinese Host Inc. (CHD) is a privately held company founded by David Huang in 2000. Initially, CHD started as a tour company for Chinese travelers to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. It soon added meeting and incentive services. Today, Chinese Host operates 40 buses and creates FIT and Group itineraries, shuttle bus services, bespoke customized travel arrangements, proprietary reservation and information platform for Chinese travel producers and full service representation services in China. CHD has hosted more than one million Chinese travelers since 2011 and features key destinations and attractions in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah and National Parks. CHD has its corporate headquarters in Las Vegas with branch offices in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Beijing and Shanghai.

For more information, please contact  
Bob Gilbert 
CHD, Inc. | Chinese Host, Inc. 

About America Asia Travel Center 
Super Vacation, (dba, America Asia Travel Center) was established by Helen Koo in 1981 in Los Angeles, California. Besides handling normal travel agency activities, the company was also the sole agent for the U.S. tour packages promoted by Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. In 1986 Super Vacation purchased its first 56-seaters bus and established America Asia Express, Inc., and became the first and the only Chinese-operated bus charter company at that time. Today, Super Vacation has over 200 employees, 16 regional representative offices and branches in America, Canada and China, yearly revenue of 80 million U.S. dollars, serving over 200,000 passengers per year, owns more than 20 vehicles including 10 (56-seaters) deluxe coaches, with 10 million US dollars liability insurance per coach, and provides services including airline ticketing, hotel reservations, cruise, short-haul bus tours and long haul vacations to China, Europe, Japan, North Africa, etc., wholesales tour packages to more than 500 Asian travel agencies around the world, and bus charter services. All Super Vacation tour guides speak Chinese and English fluently, and are highly trained professionals.

Super Vacation is now one of the largest and the most competitive travel agency and wholesaler in Los Angeles, CA.

For more information, please contact: 
Helen Koo 
America Asia Travel Center