Global Blue and Alipay form tax refund platform for Chinese tourists

Chinese touristsGlobal_Blue_and_AlipayTax refund and international shopping and spending specialist Global Blue has partnered with China’s leading online payment service provider Alipay to enable Chinese tourist to have their VAT reimbursed directly into their Alipay accounts.

From July 8, 2014, travellers holding Alipay accounts will be able to receive their tax refunds from goods and services purchased from 5,000 retailers across France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the UK, including luxury department stores such as Harrods in the UK, KaDeWe in Germany and La Rinascente in Italy. More countries are expected to roll out the service in the coming months.

“Chinese globe shoppers are our biggest spending nationality, spending on average €815 ($1,107) per transaction based on their VAT refunds processed with us. With the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimating the number of Chinese tourists to double to 200m by 2020, it is essential we continue to anticipate their needs and offer a hassle-free tax refund experience,” said Global Blue CEO David Baxby.

Chinese travellers are “an incredibly important demographic in all our key markets” Baxby told DFNI. “We regard Alipay as the leading payment platform in China. Clearly it has a strong role to play in markets like Europe.”

Global Blue has a very strong understanding of where the Chinese travellers are going and has targeted specific merchants and airports that they choose to go to, he explained.

“Korea was an obvious market to start and an important market for Chinese travellers in a tourism perspective, but Europe is for us the biggest investment and where we have spent a lot of time on systems and processes to ensure we can facilitate these transactions,” he added.

Alipay is used by Chinese citizens to pay anything from online purchases and utility bills to  movie tickets and is often used to pay for international transactions with leading retailers.

“Alipay is thrilled to work with Global Blue in this milestone collaboration to make it easier for merchants to better meet the growing spending needs of Chinese consumers,” said Alipay International president Sabrina Peng.

”We are confident that this cooperation will create a more enjoyable and convenient overseas shopping experience for Alipay customers.”

Furthermore, Global Blue plans to integrate the refund to an Alipay account with its existing membership card—Global Blue Card—which eliminates the need to fill out the tax-free form by hand, and offers an exclusive series of merchant promotions and discounts. Chinese card holders will have the option to update their membership profiles online, to have their Alipay account as their preferred refund channel. The company added it has almost 100,000 Chinese globe shoppers signed-up since the membership card’s launch in May

“The strong connection we have [with Alipay] is all about the simplification of the process and removing all the pain from the transaction. It is incredibly seamless from a consumer perspective.

“We have made a lot of investment in making tax free shopping as painless as we can— we refunded €1.3bn ($1.8bn) to travellers last year and believe we can continue to grow that by investing in technology with partners like Alipay,” he told DFNI.

The two companies will be working together in the coming months to develop and roll out various products and services to the benefit of Chinese globe shoppers and retailers that serve them.

Source: DFNI

Chinese shoppers are changing the face of retail

Chinese shoppers Gucci - China Elite FocusWen Zhong, a 28-year-old from Shanghai has already been to France and the Netherlands . He is now flying from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam to his final stop, Finland, where he hopes to see the Northern Lights (“very exclusive”). Mr Wen is typical of a new wave of Chinese tourists: young, affluent and travelling independently, rather than on a “20-cities-in ten-days” bus tour like those that brought his predecessors. Such tours still appeal to most Chinese tourists on their first trip further afield than Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. But a third are now organising their own travel, spending more and staying longer in each of their destinations.
Nearly one in ten international tourists worldwide is now Chinese, with 97.3m outward-bound journeys from the country last year, of which around half were for leisure. Chinese tourists spend most in total ($129 billion in 2013, followed by Americans at $86 billion) and per tax-free transaction ($1,130 compared with $494 by Russians). More than 80% say that shopping is vital to their plans, compared with 56% of Middle Eastern tourists and 48% of Russians. They are expected to buy more luxury goods next year while abroad than tourists from all other countries combined.
The dizzying pace of growth is expected to continue. Only around 5% of China’s population now own passports, and most of those who travel go to Hong Kong or Macau. But increased affluence, a trend towards longer holidays, fewer visa conditions and growing numbers of repeat travellers mean that every year more will take foreign trips, and more will venture farther. By 2020 the number of foreign trips made from China will double, predicts Aaron Fischer of CLSA, an investment firm, and spending by Chinese tourists abroad will triple.

Shops, hotels and other tourist businesses are scrambling to profit from the new arrivals. Schiphol, which has direct flights to seven Chinese cities, hands out presents in the arrivals hall around Chinese New Year and has a free translation app to point Chinese travellers to its luxury shops, all of which accept Chinese currency and Union Pay (China’s main credit card). Benno Leeser, the boss of Gassan Diamonds, a Dutch jewellery chain with 14 outlets in the airport, travels to China every year to schmooze with the travel agents who bring him his best customers.

Advertisement Banner Gervois Hotel Rating - May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisNew destinations are trying to work out how to get themselves on the itinerary. After direct airline connections, the next step is to make getting a visa easier or, better still, to bring in a visa-waiver scheme. In 2013 Chinese citizens could visit just 44 other countries without a pre-arranged visa; Taiwanese citizens could visit 130, and Americans and Britons over 170. In 2010 the European Tour Operators Association found that a quarter of Chinese who had hoped to visit Europe for leisure had abandoned their plans because of visa delays. Britain, which is outside the European Schengen free-travel area, requires its own visa—the main reason it gets just a ninth of the Chinese tourists France does.
America has started to interview Chinese visa-applicants online and allows them to pick up their visas at any of 900 bank branches, rather than the American embassy. It saw a 22% increase in Chinese visitors last year. But places with visa-waiver schemes, like the Maldives, are really thriving: last year the number of Chinese visitors to the islands increased by 45% and reached nearly a third of the 1.1m total. A boom in Chinese honeymoons helps. Beach resorts are also popular with “6+1s”—young couples travelling with one child and two sets of parents. Parents and children do adventure activities; grandparents, who are less likely to speak English, go to evening shows and cannot get lost.

The next step is to tailor language, products and services to the Chinese market. Printemps, a shop in Paris, has a dedicated entrance for Chinese tour groups; Harrods in London has 100 Union Pay terminals scattered throughout the store. Both are recruiting Mandarin-speaking staff and have Chinese-language websites and maps. Hotels increase their appeal by offering Chinese television channels, menus with pictures, and congee (Chinese porridge) for breakfast. Such details are seen as a sign of respect.
Appealing to the new Chinese horde means tapping into their love of a good romantic tale, says John Kester of the UN World Tourism Organisation. Thailand saw the number of Chinese visitors triple after a blockbuster film, “Lost in Thailand”, inspired a generation to come and sample Thai beer. Mauritius is hoping that “Five Minutes to Tomorrow”, a romance due out later this year featuring Liu Shishi, a popular actress, and partly filmed on the island, will bring it a similar bonanza.
Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisThe new generation of Chinese luxury travelers don’t rely anymore on old fashioned Chinese outbound travel agencies: They prefer to carefully select their destination and hotels with the help of specialized luxury travel magazines, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine of Luxury Hotels of America, both published by the fast growing publishing company China Elite Focus Magazines. “We opened a new office in New York City last year” said Pierre Gervois, the Publisher. “Our editorial team is based in Shanghai, and our sales office is now in the United States, to be closer to our advertisers, mostly luxury brands who want to use our media portfolio to reach directly independent Chinese travelers”
The toughest step is getting noticed by Chinese would-be travellers, says Frank Budde of the Boston Consulting Group and co-author of “Winning the Next Billion Asian Travellers”. Nearly half of China’s population is now online, and two-thirds of those planning to travel use online material when preparing their itinerary. Since they use different search engines and social-media platforms from everywhere else, success largely depends on being blogged about on these platforms. Here, destinations can make their own luck. Tourism New Zealand’s decision to host the fairy-tale wedding of Yao Chen, an actress with 66m followers on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, in Queenstown in 2012 was rewarded with 40m posts and comments on discussion forums, 7,000 news articles—and a surge in interest from Chinese lovebirds.

Source: The Economist

Chinese shoppers are welcome in the US for the Independence Day

Bicester VillageYin Jie, a 35 y.o. Chinese tourist from Beijing, is looking at the Niuyue Mag black and blue sticker on the window of a fashion designer store in SoHo “If they have been recommended by Niuyue Mag, I know it’s a very creative brand” she says with a big smile, watching her iPad with the Spring issue of Niuyue Mag.

Chinese shoppers are expected to provide the much-needed momentum for retail sales in the US on Friday, even as most Americans celebrate their country’s 238th birthday with fireworks, cookouts and parades.
“We have received calls from several Chinese shoppers about July 4 sales,” said Jim Anderson, marketing director of the Chicago-based Fashion Outlets. “Many US retailers have already started Independence Day sales, and we expect the deals to continue through the holiday weekend..
A manager at the upscale-luxury South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, who did not want to reveal her name, said that the number of Chinese tourists, especially independent travelers, goes up during the Independence Day period.

The Fourth of July week is considered to be a boom period for retailers in New York. “Short-term four-day travel packages, especially ones with Woodbury Common on the route, have become extremely popular with Chinese tourists,” said Jasmine Xu, assistant manager of EWorld Tours, one of the largest Chinese-owned travel agencies in New York.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, located in Central Valley, New York, about an hour and a half outside of Manhattan, has 220 high-end stores and is owned by Premium Outlets, a subsidiary of Simon Property Group. This year, Woodbury’s sales will run until Sunday, and offer an additional 25 percent to 65 percent discount on top of their everyday savings on brands like Armani, Fendi and Burberry.
“On Monday, we had 15 Chinese tour groups at the Woodbury outlets, and on the first day of the sale, there were more than 20 tour groups from China,” said Jean Guinup, the regional vice-president for the northeast region at Simon.

“We may see even more than that, and it’s the same for all the Simon Premium Outlets on the East Coast and West Coast,” Guinup said.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of Chinese people going to Woodbury during Independence Day, based on our experience last year,” said Laurie Heller, marketing manager of Coach USA Short Line. “Many of them come especially when there are big sales, like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.”
“I got to know about the huge sale happening there and decided to go and shop for brands like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Juicy Couture,” said Wang Xinji, a Chinese tourist from Shanghai, who was waiting with her boyfriend at the Port Authority Terminal in Manhattan for the shuttle bus to Woodbury Common on the first day of the sale.