China is behind the curve with themed hotels, study says

Foreign tourists from the West are more inclined to stay at hotels with traditional Chinese themes. Pic: Aman at Summer Palace Beijing

A NEW published research article has revealed that mainland China has a long way to go in developing themed hotels amidst a highly competitive market.

Researchers found that many domestic hotels “lack sophisticated marketing practices”, are stuck with undifferentiated products and services, have poor brand development, and ultimately fail to capture a specific market segment.

Themed hotels are found to have more of a competitive edge over generic hotels, and in a market growing as rapidly as China, increased competition is inevitable.

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Meanwhile, in the West, themed hotels are used as marketing tools to set properties apart. These are apparent in locations such as Disney theme parks as well as casino resorts in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The study added that local hotel chains are struggling alongside international brands, and are “significantly weaker” with many independent hotels finding it difficult to keep afloat.

Interestingly, researchers also found that Chinese tourists tend to favor more “futuristic and foreign-themed hotels” while Western tourists prefer to put up in “retro-style” hotels themed around traditional Chinese culture.

Similarly, rural Chinese tourists prefer modern designs and themes when choosing hotels while urban Chinese tourists gravitate towards “a more nostalgic and simpler design”.

For research purposes, a themed hotel is defined as a place where the “design, décor and facilities, staff, service, and activities are based on a unique and strong theme that provides a memorable experience”.

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