Children enjoy a glimpse of marine life in an inland aquarium during a customized family trip organized by Nanjing Marine World on May 19, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. (Photo/Cui Xiao for China Daily)
Industry studies indicate bright future for customized products and services
Young Chinese parents are showing a growing interest in going on trips with their children, creating immense potential for customized travel products and services, an industry report indicated.
Ctrip, an online travel agency, surveyed its Chinese customers. Over 89 percent of 100 million respondents said they traveled with their kids from May 2017 till now. About half of the children were aged 6 to 14.
"There is a potential market of more than 300 million middle and primary school students, which deserves our attention," Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, told China Youth Daily. "The market is getting bigger."
As more people born in the 1980s and 1990s become new parents, they feel that having grown up under less economic pressures themselves, they can go on trips now together, to strengthen family bonds, industry insiders said.
"Family trips could help children to see the beauty of China's countryside and cities, build more harmonious relations between parents and kids, and create happy memories they can cherish forever," said Liu Huayu, 31, father of a little girl aged two-and-a-half years.
Liu works with a financial services company in Anhui province. Most of the time, Liu drives his wife and daughter to attractions near their home, like Yuntai Mountain in Henan province, and Jiuhua Mountain in Anhui. "Natural landscape is good for children to expand their perception of the world".
Each trip may cost 4,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan, mainly for food and accommodation, he said.
According to Ctrip's research report, the market scale of online family trips reached about 20.7 billion yuan ($3.23 billion) in 2016, which is expected to reach 50 billion yuan this year.
Travel companies can find new business opportunities in innovative children-oriented products, since young parents often care more about experience than the price of a trip.
Typically, such trip packages include entertainment facilities such as mini basketball playground, children-oriented surfing and swimming pool, as well as specially designed travel plan that can satisfy the sleeping habits of babies.
In terms of accommodation, about half of Ctrip's interviewees chose luxurious hotels, equipped with children's breakfast, separate bed and better washing tools, the report said.
"Since the market sprung up, family rooms have become a new growth engine for hotels," said Du Liangliang, general manager of the domestic hotel business of Ctrip. "However, the market is full of homogeneous products that lack innovation."
Ctrip released benchmarks for family rooms in late May. The new standards emphasize larger space, cartoon designs, customized bathrobe, slippers, toys, reading materials for kids; sufficient drinking water supply and free extra bed.
The company said it expects to include on its website and app 10,000 such rooms in 1,000 hotels nationwide as soon as possible.
Lvmama, another online travel agency, released a similar report in late May, saying since China has shorter holidays, mostly of three-day duration, like Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, short trips have greater potential.
Except for the United States and Sri Lanka, the top 10 most popular overseas destinations for family trips from January to April were all neighboring countries such as Thailand, Japan, Singapore and the Philippines, Lvmama said.
Theme parks, ocean parks and zoos were hot attractions for these tourists, it said.
Dai said since more customers began to stress safety, quality and experience, future family trips will combine other industries, like culture, science and education.
Companies need to develop more innovative products to meet their demand, he said.