By Ardalan Zandian on July 9, 2015 at 7:30 AM
According to the U.S. State Department, about 33% of Americans hold a valid passport. That means about 109 million potential customers for your Asian property! However, of these, only about 4 million U.S. tourists make it to Asia each year. That’s only a fraction of the roughly 10 million who visit Europe, the most popular travel destination, according to the federal Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.
What prevents more American tourists from visiting Asia? How can Asian hoteliers get an advantage?
Millions of U.S. tourists are repeated visitors to Asian destinations – whether they prefer Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Bangkok. The trick to achieving repeat business and “word of mouth” from U.S. tourists often lies in helping them overcome the high logistical hurdles of reaching their Asian destination.
Let’s look at some of the important ways Asian hoteliers can attract American travelers:
1) Make it Easy to Travel to & Between Destinations
Many Asian destinations have public transportation that’s far more extensive than the norm in America. However, that doesn’t mean every traveler will want to brave the train or bus – especially luxury travelers. Offering a private car service and having sound agreements with honest, high-quality taxi services will help put travelers at ease. This allows them to worry less about schedules and safety.
2) Include Free Meals & Incidentals in Travel Packages
Even the most well-heeled U.S. traveler might balk at the cost of a trip to Asia, which often runs to several thousand dollars by commercial airline. By shifting the cost of meals off a guest’s bill, you capitalize on the relatively lower cost of basic foodstuffs in many Asia locales while ensuring visitors they are getting world-class, all-inclusive travel.
3) Bank on a Culture of Great Customer Service
One of the persistent beliefs many Americans hold about Asia is that it has sterling customer service. This is often held up in contrast to American service, which can sometimes be surly and inattentive. If your workplace culture supports it, be sure excellent customer service is “front and center” on your marketing materials. This helps to attract the most discerning guests.
4) Explore Packaging & Partnership Opportunities
Not all airlines and cruise lines offer service from the continental U.S. to Asia. When looking for fruitful partnerships, you should naturally seek to “bundle” services with these businesses and with websites that organize Asian travel. However, don’t stop there: Partnering with English-language tour guides and other specialty services can differentiate your property from the rest.
5) Incentivize Return & Repeat Business
Once a traveler has had an excellent experience in Asia, he or she is much more likely to travel there again. Be sure you offer meaningful incentives to make the return trip enticing. Offer discounts where possible and keep former guests informed of new services. Warm, personalized follow-up can create an authentic connection with travelers that they are sure to remember.
6) Make the Comforts of Home Available
American travelers are often excited to try new things, but they are hard-pressed to abandon many of the creature comforts they are used to. A fast, secure online connection is especially important to business travelers and location-independent entrepreneurs. Even something as simple as a soft drink from a familiar brand can bring a smile to the face of a traveler tired from a long journey.
Thanks to low commodity prices and favorable rates of exchange, a small group of North American tourists can make a big difference to an Asian hotel’s quarterly results. Thoughtful, detail-oriented personal attention will help first-time visitors to Asia feel comfortable and welcome, which can result in a long-lasting relationship.