Today I hand my personal blog over to a long time friend and a better journalist than I. Brian Offenther has been living in Shanghai for over 3 years and has had the opportunity to cruise the high seas on Royal Caribbean. Here he offers a response to Princess Cruises moving into the Chinese Cruise Market.
Breakingtravelnews.com reported a few days ago of the entrance of Princess Cruises into the China market. A “premium cruise travel experience” is what they promise, but their ability to understand what that is, and subsequently deliver the value for a sustainable price will decide whether they can deliver it.
Shanghai’s record heat has lead to some changes in the lifestyle here, including a record number of visits to public pools. This is especially remarkable because of recent revelations of exactly how clean these pools are, and the lack of a swimming culture in the cities of China, with few people having actually learned to swim.
The heat, though, has not affected one habit of the local culture: extreme measures to avoid getting tans. Even with weather where humidity is at the threshold, and the mercury rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it is typical that even in these conditions to see people dressed in long sleeve shirts and gloves. Why? In order to attempt to avoid getting the darker skin associated with traditionally less esteemed peoples. In Chinese culture, lighter skin has always been a sign of beauty.
Another anecdote involves the review of a riverboat cruise taken by a friend at a tourist attraction in Thailand. He mentioned that the upper, exposed deck was filled completely with Western tourists, while the lower, covered deck was filled with Chinese tourists aiming to perhaps get a view and enjoy the breeze – but avoid the sun.
There are some signs this traditional notion of lighter skin being better is cracking a bit – most notably by the increased number of Chinese people who have spent time in the West – but that number is still a low percentage of the overall population.
Or, here’s another potential issue: the difficulty in delivering all-you-can-eat/drink or free meal services to Chinese customers.
There’s a lot of difficult-to-navigate sociological factors here that deserve their own space to explore, but one thing is clear: Ikea’s free coffee for members, insurance companies that offer free meals to those visiting loved ones in hospitals and traditional all-you-can-eat buffets, have all been disasters for those offering these services on mainland China (the few that have).
Is Princess ready to adjust to its services to accommodate this differing notion of beauty, especially with its cruise services that generally highlight plenty of sunlight? Is it ready to accommodate customers that will react differently than westerns to all-you-can-eat/drink or free meal services?
Conversely, perhaps those taking the cruises will adjust their expectations to those Princess may traditionally offer.
Many wouldn’t argue that Princess delivers “premium” services. But “premium” to who exactly?
After three years in Mongolia and serving in the Peace Corps, Brian moved to Shanghai and continues to promote cultural exchange through rock concerts in China, Mongolia, Japan and other Asian countries. Brian can be contacted by email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The original article about Princess entering the Chinese Market can be found at http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/princess-cruises-brand-enters-china-market/