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TONG x Globetrender Trend Report on China Next: The Future of Luxury Tourism

2020 has been a year full of twists and turbulence. Our latest trend report in partnership with Globetrender aims to provide a better understanding of the Chinese luxury traveller, a group who are increasingly sensitive, curious and unpredictable. Trends we spotlight include Bespoke Tours, Rural Hideaways and Heightened Xenophobia. Most importantly, we explore the importance of China for the domestic and global luxury travel market.

It is hard to escape the reality that Covid-19 has shifted the balance of global luxury purchasing power ever more firmly in China’s favour. The country’s retail and tourism spend has become an invaluable lifeline for the travel industry, both at home and - for the coming year - abroad.

Sunspel AW19 campaign featuring Tanliren 谭立人 by TONG
Sunspel AW19 campaign featuring Tanliren 谭立人 by TONG

In the domestic space, a new crop of ultra-luxury hotels and experiences are rapidly emerging to meet the ever-demanding needs of China’s new generation of travellers. Millennials and Gen Z travellers are gradually occupying more of the luxury travel market with substantial spending power. This generation is the key to rebuilding the market after months of restrictions and bans. With nearly two-thirds of Millennials being in high-income positions, an understanding of who these consumers are and what they want to gain from their trips is essential for brands. Despite the reopening of borders, we have observed a tremendous shift away from extravagant trips overseas in recent months. Instead, these top spenders are opting for curated trips that are enriching and exclusive within China.

Luoping, Yunnan, China
Luoping, Yunnan, China

Covid-19 has also accelerated the realisation of two key commodities for the young and affluent Chinese traveller: quality family time and personal wellbeing. According to Mark Sands, Vice-President of Six Senses, Chinese women between the ages of 30 to 45 have had the highest interest in trips surrounding personal development and have replaced action packed city breaks for rejuvenating retreats or a relaxing family reunion. As uncertainty lingers in a market otherwise returning to normal, making time for loved ones and self-care are the biggest luxuries of all - evident in consumers’ reasons for travel. Whether it’s meditation in a monastery, an intimate cooking class with a renowned chef or a calligraphy lesson along the Li River, the value of luxury travel lies in the memories being made.

Beijing Daxing International Airport by Hufton Crow for ArchDaily
Beijing Daxing International Airport by Hufton Crow for ArchDaily

Despite the set-backs of the global pandemic, China remains on track to be the largest economy in the world. China’s adaptable and fluid market is also the home of the cash-free economy. Platforms such as WeChat and Alipay are leading the way in contactless spending, and the country’s digital advances are catalysing big changes in both the travel and retail spheres. With the ability to browse, book and pay for holidays on these channels in an instant, these platforms are a vital tool for the tourism industry acting as a direct gateway to each individual customer. With a huge majority of the population adopting super-apps, it is fundamental for businesses to invest in showcasing their propositions in the most enticing ways.

2020 has redefined the meaning of luxury travel for the Chinese consumer - less air miles but more personal and interpersonal connection. As we head towards the new year, future tourism at home or abroad firmly lies in the hands of the young affluent class. For now, they are concertedly stepping away from the blinding lights of the international designer mall and instead opting for the peaceful sounds of waves tenderly hitting the beaches of Sanya. In an increasingly interconnected and technology driven world, the future of luxury travel it seems will be shaped by those who place expert curation and enrichment at the heart of the itinerary.

Full report on China Next: The Future of Luxury Tourism here.

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