American Marketer


Luxury hotels rejoice alongside Chinese guests with New Year festivities

February 17, 2015

San Francisco's Chinese New Year celebrations San Francisco's Chinese New Year celebrations


Luxury hotels around the world are gearing up to celebrate Chinese New Year with themed events and decorations to ring in the Year of the Goat.

Peninsula is hosting family events and shopping trips, Ritz-Carlton is teaming with a local Chinatown, Trump Hotel Collection will have a dance-a-thon and Mandarin Oriental will present traditional dance. With the many options and locations offering festivities for the New Year, and an increasingly number of Chinese millennials travelling abroad, luxury hotels around the world will strengthen relationships with affluent Chinese guests this holiday.

“It is critical for luxury brands to celebrate the changing face and cultures of their top customers,” said Brian Buchwald, chief executive officer at Bomoda, New York. “Just as we recognize Christmas and Easter because of the cultural makeup of the traditional guest so too is it important to now celebrate Chinese New Year, Golden Week, etc.

“For most major markets, the global Chinese tourist is replacing the American, Japanese or European as their top international traveler,” he said. “And that consumer is increasingly staying at top hotels and looking for the full experience of luxury hotels, helpful concierges, fine dining, etc. rather than just shopping.”

Global citizens

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong will kick-off the holiday with a traditional lion dance and an eye-dotting ceremony in the lobby. The God of Wealth will also visit the restaurants with lucky Lai See packets. An overnight package will be available for guests with complimentary Champagne and chocolates and a room upgrade. The hotel’s Cake Shop will offer gourmet baked goods for the celebrations.

The Peninsula Hotels in both the United States and around the world will host activities for guests. For example at The Peninsula Beverly Hills there will be a family package that includes tickets to the annual Chinese New Year party and classes from the pastry chef for kids.

Chinese New Year Peninsula

Chinese New Year at Peninsula Hotels

Also, guests will be able to have a Beverly Hills shopping experience with a Mandarin-speaking guide who will give insights to Rodeo Drive.

Around the world, every Peninsula property will have red flowers and lanterns as well as lion dances and lucky red envelopes. The brand also released a social video that features a pageboy walking through a Chinese garden and visiting a Buddhist temple. He passes the Peninsula kitchen which shows chefs hand-carving chocolate lions and pan-frying dumplings.

Peninsula's Chinese New Year video

The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is located near the city’s Chinatown and is incorporating the neighborhood’s festivities into its own celebrations. For instance, the hotel’s restaurant Parallel 37’s chef will offer a self-guided tour of Chinatown’s food and beverage options. At the neighborhood’s annual festival and parade there is a 268-foot Golden Dragon and traditional dancers ringing in the New Year.

San Fran chinese new eyar

Chinatown in San Francisco

Other Ritz-Carlton properties, such as the Hong Kong location, are offering guests gift ideas. These include a homemade coconut pudding set, Tin Lung Heen Hamper and other food items.

Trump Hotel Collection Las Vegas is taking a different approach with a Chinese New Year Dance-a-Thon.

Silver fortune cookie chinese new year

Silver fortune cookie

Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is bringing celebrations to Egypt with a festival that melds Egyptian and Chinese customs together.

In Shanghai, Four Seasons Hotel Pudong will have activities that offer families the chance to make dumplings together or visit the lighted lantern market.

"Chinese New Year is the most important cultural holiday all year for most Chinese, and by law, Chinese employees get at least one week off from work," said Iris Yen, head of advisory & client services at Bomoda. "Most will take off a few extra vacation days. This means that they can go for extended trips abroad.

"Luxury hotels in the U.S. recognize these trends, especially for those for whom Chinese tourists comprise an important segment," she said.

Shopping China
While overall spending in China is back up to where it was in 2013, spending on gifts has decreased 30 percent over the past two years, according to a report by Hurun.

Chinese consumers’ preferences when gifting have shifted, and Apple has displaced traditional luxury brands such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton as the top choice of brand for presents (see story).

However, the ecommerce market is booming in China, and the best way for brands to take advantage of this is to develop omnichannel marketing strategies that will appeal to the increasingly savvy Chinese consumer, according to a report by Fashionbi.

In the past year, China has become the world leader in ecommerce, overtaking the United States and European Union as a result of its exponential economic growth. As social media and mobile devices become more common in the country, mobile marketing and omnichannel strategies are necessary to satisfy consumer demands (see story).

Chinese New Year is among the largest celebrations in China and has evidently spread worldwide, likely creating an event for affluent consumers to spend on their loved ones. Having worldwide initiatives allows hotel brands to connect with their Chinese guests regardless of their destination options, but maintaining a presence in the country’s cities is also critical to building a relationship with affluent consumers.

“Many hotels understand that they need to 'fish where the fish are,'" Mr. Buchwald said. "Many Chinese tourists prefer—or are in fact led—to staying in Chinese centric neighborhoods globally. However that is changing as the number of self-led tours and younger consumers 'get' what it means to visit and ensconce oneself in a new country is all about.”

Final Take
Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York