Visitors from China continue to be the fastest growing inbound tourist segment in Australia, with food and dining experiences being in the top 3 consideration factors when choosing where to travel.
Launched in 2014 the Tourism Australia “Restaurant Australia” campaign went a long way to help promote Australian food and wine culture to China and the world.
So what can you do as a restaurant owner to attract this ever-growing segment of free, independent travellers?
Here are our top tips for the restaurant industry to capture the Chinese tourism market.
1. The menu must be translated
While more and more Chinese are learning other languages, many still have limited foreign language skills. Being able to provide a menu that has been translated into Mandarin could make the difference between your restaurant being chosen or the one next door.
The Chinese are also very conscious of embarrassment and ordering the wrong thing. So a section featuring popular items can help. If possible, include some pictures of these popular items.
2. Cater to their payment needs
The Chinese don’t like to carry cash, so their preferred payment methods are UnionPay credit cards and mobile payment platforms like Alipay. To put things into perspective, there are more issued UnionPay cards in China than there are Mastercards or Visas worldwide, while Alipay has over 870 million active users in China and overseas.
So accepting Chinese payment methods and publicising this at your restaurant helps. Tyro accepts all kinds of payments from cards to contactless, including UnionPay, and will offer direct Alipay integration to all eligible business from second quarter 2019.
3. Ensure an online presence in China
The great firewall of China means that your regular social media posts on Facebook and Instagram and your SEO strategies for Google won’t be seen by potential Chinese tourists.
The leading Chinese search engine is Baidu. So optimising your website through a Baidu SEO strategy can be beneficial in getting your business in front of the Chinese market.
With over 1 billion active WeChat users, a presence on China’s largest social platform will help you reach potential Chinese diners. Post your address and opening times, a Mandarin menu and share photographs of the food and drinks you have on offer.
You can also reach Chinese people looking to travel to Australia is to go to Chinese travel forums such as TuNui.
4. Photograph your food
Restaurants in China almost always publish pictures of their food. Where language is a challenge being able to see what the meal looks like can make diners feel more comfortable.
Just as you would make dishes that are Insta-worthy, WeChat-worthy food presentation can really boost your online reputation.
5. A familiar greeting
Speaking Mandarin will go a long way to getting Chinese tourists through the door. If you have any Mandarin-speaking staff consider utilising them front of house. If not, take the time to learn a few key phrases.
It shows that you are making an effort to make Chinese guest feel welcomed into your establishment and can set you apart from your competitors.
6. Offer banquet style meals
It is customary in China to share dishes when you are out to a meal with friends. Offering a set menu or a banquet of dishes to share amongst a group helps to make the decision what to eat much easier for this market.
7. Try to accommodate walk-ins
The Chinese are not used to making reservations beforehand when they dine out back home. So being able to manage your bookings to be able to set aside a table or two for walk-ins can be beneficial.
8. Locally produced and fresh ingredients
The independent Chinese travellers are willing and ready to try local and fresh Australian produce. We are spoiled for choice here when it comes to amazing meat and seafood that the average Chinese person can’t get back home. Or if they can, it’s very expensive.
Chinese tourists want to impress their friends so won’t hesitate in ordering the most expensive item on the menu or a fine Australian wine.
9. Partner with your local Tourist Board
Let your local tourist board know that you are keen to host Chinese family and media trips. Their additional reach can help you to make inroads with key influencers in the Chinese market.
10. Offer Chinese tea
The Chinese like to have a hot drink before their meal. So offering Chinese tea before the start of the meal will help get their dining experience off to a good start.
The Chinese tourism market will only continue to grow. Australia right now captures a tiny percentage of Chinese tourists and this still has such a significant impact on the economy. By further positioning ourselves as the go-to destination for fine food and dining, the future of hospitality for this market is bright.