Behavior patterns of Chinese travelers

Traveling for Chinese is largely built around convenience. For Chinese, they do not want the trouble of having to book hotels, airplane tickets, bus/train rides as well as trying to solidify an itinerary, as traveling is supposed to be a stress-free and joyful experience as can be. Therefore, citizens of China mostly go through travel agencies for their planning both domestically and abroad.

While there are also no shortage of Westerners who feel the same way and who also go through travel agencies, Westerners often try get the best deals possible and feel that going through travel services often adds costs. Westerners are more likely to keep checking a website such as Orbitz to see what airline company has the cheapest price and whether that price is cheaper than what they could get elsewhere. The same also goes for booking hotels and other services.

Westerners like the feeling of beating the system whereas Chinese would rather pay a little extra more (provided they could find better deals for booking tickets on a China-based platform) and take less risk. There is a feeling of achievement for Westerners if they score a great deal whereas Chinese are only concerned about scoring a good experience.

There is also the issue of language for Chinese when going abroad. Westerners are fortunate in that most can speak English whereas in China many Chinese haven’t started learning English until recent years, making it hard for middle-aged and elderly people to get around the world without the guide of someone who is fluent in English or the language of the country in which they are traveling to.

Paying for travel is also another issue. In China, credit cards are used conservatively and often do not have limits higher than US$1,000-2,000. This means that if Chinese are going to go somewhere beyond that price limit or if they are paying for a family, purchasing tickets and everything included for traveling online is very difficult. Chinese usually pay for things in cash as well so going to a travel agent and handing multiple bills of CNY$100 is usually the way things are done.

Chinese are also used to doing things in groups. There is a much larger sense of collectivism in China whereas in the West it is more about individualism. It is quite common to meet backpackers from the West by themselves looking to meet new people and act independently on their own, but for Chinese, going by yourself is not only potentially dangerous, but more so boring. The Chinese would rather be spending traveling moments with their friends and relatives rather than with themselves.

A lot of Westerners also tend to think that Chinese like to be horded around like sheep. There is some truth to the notion that Chinese are used to being somewhat more susceptive to taking orders from authoritative figures, whether they be teachers or leaders of sorts as this is also a sign of respect in certain cases, but there is also a structure that Chinese find comfortable in having someone make the decisions and taking leadership for them when traveling. This comes back to the idea of convenience but is also matched with that Chinese tend to be prefer groups for both their interactions and decision-making.

Chinese also tend to prefer quantity over quality. For example, if a Chinese is to go to Europe he or she is more likely to want to see more countries within a week rather than seeing more cities of one country in the same period. There is something special for Chinese to be able to cross off numbers on their lists and the more those numbers are (in this case the more countries traveled to) the better. Westerners meanwhile would probably stay longer in one place and travel it top to bottom to really understand and “feel” the country.

Lastly, you may be wondering why Chinese like to push and shove even at the most remote locations where there are very few people. This is because in China such behavior is common due to crowds and congestion pretty much wherever you go so it the behavior has kind of been engrained into their behavior the same way Westerners might think that respecting personal space and not crowding is embedded into their behavior.

Overall, traveling for Chinese is an increasingly larger trend. As economic conditions improve in China, citizens are getting more opportunities to go abroad and are also making some of the most expensive and large purchases among any other type of tourists. In fact, in prime travel locations such as the Maldives 25% of tourists there are now from China while in Paris most of the duty free purchases are from Chinese. Chinese tourists are only expected to increase so it is important to understand why they are the way they are if you plan to travel or conduct business as well as more importantly, meet them while traveling.

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