Tracking the Chinese tourist way; Eat Sleep Shop Travel @Thailand
Storied by: Kanokorn Sae-Bae, Chalita Sununtaporn
Pictured by: Anuchit Nimtalung, Chalermpol Panyanwasakul
Although, Chinese tourist who come to visit our hometown may not be the newcomer but they are not an underestimated group. From Ministry of Tourism and Sports statistic reveals an interesting number that in 2017, there was almost 10 million Chinese tourists came visiting Thailand which caused a huge cash flow among Thai tourism economy.
Moreover, their travelling pattern has changed from a large tour group to individual travelling by themselves with a big luggage and do not need a tour guide; a fashionista-girl-gang with one compact camera. But the interesting thing is the number of an elderly group that like to travel by themselves or a large family including grandpa and grandma that come for shopping, eating and taking a picture are surprisingly increasing
That is why we are here, talking with 3 different businesses; accommodation, restaurant, and shopping. To exchange some experiences, different attitude and new interesting ideas for the future with-Chinese business.
Monomer Hostel: Be a friend and an accommodation
Khun Pueng Tirawongkul, Co-founder of Monomer Hostel, told us that her hostel concept is “Comfy & Cozy style”. Their customers are very various; alone, a friend gang, or a family group. The hostel lives through time period of Chinese behavior change.
“We opened long enough to see their change. Previously, they came alone, or as a teenager-gang, or a friend-gang, or a 6-girl-group gang. But nowadays, they tend to come as a family, not just a small group but 10 people. They want to rent a whole room, including grandpa, grandma and grandchild with just one luggage for each person. Sometimes, the guest number is insufficient to rent a whole room but we are ok with that and gave them as the same-reserved price. Because we want them to have their own privacy.
Why Chinese like travelling to Thailand. Khun Phueng’s answer is “They really like Thailand!”
“Thailand is easy to travel. Thai people are kind. Things are cheap and there are a lot of foods. Very convenient and we have everything they want. They can have mango in every season and they love shabu. To be frank, when they come travelling, they come for spending money on shopping and eat everything. Most Chinese come back to Thailand again, no one comes only one time. Some people came here for the first time but along with a-used-to-come people. I met one customer came to Thailand 4 times in just one month!”
For travelling style, Khun Pueng explained that it is not different from Thai style. They love shopping and they have a plan; wake up, finish breakfast and stick with their plan. And they will be back with load of shopping bags. The average stay length is a week, minimum stay is 3 days. Their destination other than Bangkok are Pattaya, Chiang Mai, floating market around Bangkok.
Khun Pueng added up “Mainly, their most favorite period are their long weekend or both Thai and Chinese festival such as New year, Songkran and Chinese New Year and the low season is raining season.
“Every international tourist” Khun Pueng giggled
Because Chinese customers are increasing and most of hostel rooms are shared rooms. More people, more problems. At this point, Khun Pueng said that “This is the main problem that we have to deal with. The important thing is how to make it all good for everyone with the easiest way. The best way is to explain everything in their language to make sure that it covers all details, there will be a picture with direction, especially for hygiene and peaceful issue.
“If there is a clear communication, there will be no problem. Everything will be as we planned it to be. We did not use Google translate, we asked from the person who know Chinese or the other Chinese customer for translation. If there is a Chinese explanation, there will be no problem. If you do not tell them then they do not understand. They will do as they used to do at home. But if we tell the rule, they will follow. That is good.”
Other than a clear communication, this hostel is like “Friend’s home”. It is more than just an accommodation. Khun Pueng told us “Many times we face an emergency and our customer is in trouble such as they forgot the luggage at airport or lost passport or mobile phone. We help them and conduct some local process. Sometimes it takes half a day.”
This sincerity made Monomer Hostel not just gain trust from customer but more friends.
“It was not easy that they choose us because there are a lot of accommodation choices. But when they decided to choose us, we will do it the best. When they choose to spend their valued vacation time with us, we want to give them the best we have. Therefore, sincerity is important. When the customer told us that they are recommended by friends, we are so delightful. Because when we help them, we do as a friend and that help us get more friends.
3 things that Chinese tourist will ask for
+Piranha, the noodle restaurant: Like! No spice but full-flavored
If you want to eat a delicious Yen-Ta-Four noodle around Siam. One of the top which is recommended by a local will be “Piranha, the noodle restaurant”. It is opposite of Chulalongkorn University Book Center since 1999.
10 years have passed, not only teenagers but the new-face customers of Piranha are from China.
Khun Tippawan Likhitamnuayporn, the owner of Piranha told us that since she took over and managed the restaurant 4-5 years ago. She found that the Chinese customer number are increasing. Some are their regular customers because whenever they come to Thailand, this restaurant must be on their list.
This restaurant is in the guidebook and many customers wrote a review on their blog that is why many people come to try. It is because “the word of mouth”.
“At the beginning, I don’t know that our restaurant is in the guidebook. There are many tourists shows us that we are in Chinese, Taiwan, Korean, Japanese book. We don’t know who is the one who wrote it but if any customer tells us that they are from the guidebook, I will ask them to take a picture with that book. Because you came to our restaurant.”
“Most Chinese customers are the 2 new generation tourists. The first is teenager that come by themselves, mostly 20 – 25 years old with modern clothes and many shopping bags in their hands. The second is a family type, from a small family, 3 – 4 members until a big family, more than 10 members.
“Grandpa, grandma together with their grandchildren are eating with their big luggage by their side. This is very cute and feel so warmly.”
When this restaurant becomes more popular among Chinese, here comes the worry that their communication maybe the problem. So, they put Chinese labels on all ingredients and toppings with clearly explanation picture to ensure that customer can select their preferred option.
The language is not an obstacle, although Khun Tippawan cannot speak Chinese.
“Mostly we used English for communication. Chinese customer can speak English because most of them come from Beijing or Shanghai. They are modernist or at least one person in each group can speak English. But if they are elderly, the best way is pointing system. The easiest and very understandable method.” Khun Tippawan explained.
What is the favorite menu for Chinese? She answered quickly that “The egg noodle with wonton and red pork” and “The Piranha Yen-ta-Four thick soup” is the standard and the easiest eatable menu.
“Chinese people are an easy people. They eat everything and do not like to order anything weird. The basic menu is “vermicelli with fish ball”. But the main menu is as mentioned above “egg noodle with wonton and red pork” and “Piranha Yen-ta-Four thick soup”. No spice but full-flavored.
The most important thing is every menu that Chinese customer ordered, we need to decrease spicy level to match with their style.
“Above all reason, the secret that made all Thai, Chinese or international customers like this restaurant is because we pay attention to every process, even ingredient selection to ensure our customer’s satisfaction.”
“Load of pork spare ribs are used to make a stock soup. To get a natural sweet soup, we use guard, carrot, white radish, vegetables, Chinese herb and many other herbs in a proper ratio and using proper heat in our own technique to get a delicate taste with herbal sense and healthy result. For the fish ball, we prepare and made them by our own hand from a high-quality fish and no borax.”
Such a detailed person!
+Noriko x Nich:: Match with new generation of Chinese women.
“Noriko” is one of Thai clothe brand that used local Thai cloth which has their unique and beautiful pattern for making a new contemporary style. More than a half decade that Noriko is in the top list of Thai fashion brand. Since the beginning as a tailor-made until nowadays that tends to be a readymade wear which are hanging around for customer selection at Siam Paragon and the EmQuartier. With the second generation, Khun Nongnart Jirakiti who design and control every manufacturing process by herself.
Not only Thai women like Noriko’s style but Chinese women also like them too. Especially “Nich”, Noriko’s child brand which just had a grand opening 2 years ago by Khun Nicha Jirakiti, Khun Nongnart Jirakiti’s daughter, who established this brand. Khun Disanee Boonsiri, Manager of Noriko brand at Siam Paragon branch, told us that 50% of total sales is from Chinese women.
And how can “Nich” attract new generation of Chinese women? Khun Disanee explained that maybe because Nich’s style is for 20 – 25 years old women. It is a combination of smart and sexy style. But still has a feminist together with some lace and embroidery which attract the woman who has a confident character.
We are very in-detailed for every making-step. We select and choose every raw material by ourselves even a zip or button. We have a high-experienced tailor do it every step. I can say that every clothes we made are a high quality and from an expert. Some of them are limited and has only one piece in the world.
“Because it is an imported cloth, some pattern consumes a wide range of cloth which there is no cloth left to make other size. We have to check that what size can we made first. Some can be reproduced but mostly are limited. We make just a few. You do not have to worry that it would be duplicated with another person.”
That is why “Nich” is very popular among the hi-end market. And the owner does not know about that. When the Chinese girl walk in and told them that her friend had recommended this shop, the owner would have a big smile.
“Now Chinese customer has changed. Previously they came as a tour. But this year it is obviously that they came as individual. It is a small group so they can come more often. And most of Chinese women have their own character. Also, the behavior of this generation is if they want something, they will buy it without any hesitation. Easily to buy what they like.”
However, the entrepreneur admitted that it is not easy to approach the Chinese customer due to they have their own search engine and the language barrier. But we already sent some shop staff to learn Chinese.
The easiest way without any investment to facilitate Chinese customer is Alipay service – The popular Chinese no-cash payment service.
“Alipay is the same method as Debit Card. It deducts money in your account along with Point accumulation. Same as Thai people that like to exchange point from the credit card. When we have Alipay sign at the shopfront, they know automatically. This is very new for us as an entrepreneur. But it is very convenient for customer and they like it. It is like our new payment method with more selling opportunity.”
What is Alipay?
Internet banking service application which can connect with the user credit card. It can be withdrawn, added-up money, service payment, or shopping on website through any supported website around the world. Also, online payment is the most popular service in China.