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Yet another Chinese product story
Adam Tan, Shanghai, April 3, 2012
 

TARGET the rich Chinese if you have a product to sell, if going by recent trends in the travel world.

 

First, Accor decided to rebrand its Grand Mercure hotels in China as Mei Jue to target the country’s upscale domestic market. Then, InterContinental Hotels Group launched Hualuxe, a play of ‘hua’ (luxury) in Chinese and ‘luxe’ in English, to appeal to a fast-growing class of travelling Chinese.

 

And now there’s HHtravel, a hyper-luxury travel brand targeting only Chinese tycoons with disposable assets of more than RMB10 million (US$1.6 million).

 

Launched by Chinese online travel giant Ctrip, ezTravel Taiwan and Wing On Travel Hong Kong, the new venture aims to be the definitive travel provider for its high-rolling clients.

 

For starters, HHtravel is offering a 2013 round-the-world 80-day tour spanning five continents, with highlights such as experiencing the annual Carnival street festival in Brazil, embarking on a luxury cruise to the South Pole, watching the aurora borealis (northern lights) phenomenon in Finland, and visiting tourism icons such as the pyramids in Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India.

 

Limited to 15 participants per year, this high-end tour, which gives participants the choice of departing from Shanghai, Beijing or Taipei, obviously plays up to the Chinese adage of ‘wu yi xi wei gui’ (value in scarcity) to entice buyers with deep pockets in a country besotted with bragging rights and status symbols.

 

The damage: about RMB1.01 million per pax – a ‘reasonable’ price according to HHtravel. After all, the lucky few will be ensconced in utmost comfort throughout the trip, from business-class transport and Michelin-star meals, to opulent accommodation fit for a king (read: castles and palaces).

 

HHtravel also offers 50 other lavish packages to choose from, ranging from world heritage tours and soft adventures, to top-notch train journeys. The cheapest package in its portfolio is a RMB55,000 six-day tour of Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan.

 

As the Chinese belief goes, it’s not just enough to have money (qian), you need to have time (xian) too – something the majority of us probably lack.

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