The emerging Asia-Pacific business traveller
Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe is the first of two Hilton properties to open in Guangzhou, China. (Hilton Hotels and Resorts)
As the epicentre of business travel shifts east, the hotel industry is gearing up to meet the increased demand. This is especially the case in the white-hot Chinese market, where hoteliers and business travellers are busier than ever.
Last week, Marriott announced it will be opening 27 new hotels in Asia in 2013 — the most hotels it has ever opened in a single year. This past summer, Starwood Hotels temporarily moved its CEO and other top executives from New York City to Shanghai, to spend a month exploring possibilities in the region. Hilton Worldwide now operates 21 hotels in China and expects to have more than 100 hotels there within the next five years.
According to research from the Global Business Travel Foundation, China will spend $309 billion on business travel in 2015, unseating the US, which is predicted to spend only $301 billion, as the biggest spender. The same research shows that Asian nations overall will increase their business travel spending at about four times the rate of the US through 2015.
The region’s rapid expansion prompted French hotel company Accor to perform an extensive survey in July of more than 10,000 Asia/Pacific-based business travellers, which reveals some interesting traits and habits, many of which prove why so much of the focus is on the Chinese market. As I was reading the survey, I noticed that Chinese business travellers:
Tend to stay in less expensive hotels, saving their companies money
The average hotel budget among all Asia/Pacific travellers is $121 per night. Indonesians are the thriftiest when it comes to hotels, budgeting an average of $92 per night, followed by Chinese at $99 per night. Australians budget the most at $158 per night. Travellers from Singapore budget $134; from Hong Kong, $132.
Are most likely to work while in a hotel room, showing a strong work ethic
About 82% of travellers from China and Singapore said that they work in their hotel at some point during their trips, while the average among all Asia/Pacific travellers was 75%.
Are least likely to use hotel fitness centres or spas, meaning they are focused on work when on business trips
In comparison, 64% of Indian business travellers frequent hotel fitness centres while only 49% of Chinese do. The average among all Asia/Pacific travellers is 53%.
Are significantly more likely to make environmentally driven hotel choices
About 59% of Asia/Pacific travellers said that they would be willing to pay more for an environmentally committed hotel compared to an uncommitted hotel in the same area. Chinese (91%), Indonesian (71%) and Thai (70%) travellers are the most likely to pay more. Australians (38%) and New Zealanders (37%) are least likely.
Are the highest frequency travellers
Business travellers from the Asia/Pacific region took an average of 6.3 business trips in the first half of 2011, and expect to take about the same number of trips in the second half. Chinese (8.7), Indians (7.3) and Singaporeans (7.1) took the most business trips. Thais, Australians and New Zealanders took the fewest trips at around five. But 15% of Chinese travellers took more than 20 business trips in the first six months of 2011 — which means they could soon be facing some work/life balance issues.
Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel