By Brian MacIver, video by Andrew Fowler
U.S. travel executives, speaking on a panel at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual convention, pointed to China as the future driver of growth in the industry but said luxury high-end travel is being supplanted by more moderate tastes.
Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corp., said the Chinese government’s austerity measures, imposed on the country’s elite two years ago, have shifted tastes from high-end products to more affordable options.
As such, Hoplamazian said, Hyatt has seen a boost in Chinese demand for newer hotel brands Hyatt Place and Hyatt House that are geared toward a less affluent professional class.
Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald predicted that China is going to be the largest cruise market in the world, in part because a cruise is a cost-effective vacation option that appeals to Chinese customers. He said that average revenues per cruise in China are slightly above the fleet’s average.
Demand from the Middle Kingdom has other benefits, Arnold added. “China helps because you can move more ships there, which creates relative scarcity in the other markets, so you have demand in excess of supply” that allows Carnival to raise prices on cruises elsewhere in the world.