Ctrip and Baidu, Chinese powerhouses of online travel and search respectively, have just dropped a potentially game-changing product: a pocket sized translator that doubles as a wi-fi hotspot. It came just last week and already there is talk of it being transformative for travel from China.

This could be huge for the hospitality industry. Hotels around the world have been seeing a surge in the number of visitors from China and its thought access to quality translations on-the-go will only accelerate the growth in Chinese business.

To recap, Ctrip and Baidu's device uses artificial intelligence technology that can translate almost instantly. It will work in more than 80 countries and for now handles Chinese-English translation, though more languages are expected to be added in the future.

It comes hot on the heels of Google’s Pixel Buds, the headphones that work with Google Assistant to translate 40 different languages. (See Business Insider’s test for a taste of what they can do.)

The makings of a Chinese travel boom?

If they live up to their potential, both products could make what looks like an already enticing opportunity for hoteliers, into an even bigger and more lucrative one.

Existing forecasts suggest Chinese travellers will make 200 million outbound trips by 2020 and their overseas spend will hit $429 billion the following year. But the ability to communicate at the touch of a button is expected to encourage even more tourists from the world’s most populous country to head abroad, particularly the middle-aged and elderly.

Hotels must to adapt for Chinese travellers

Hoteliers should therefore be readying their properties to attract and host this audience. And as we’ve described in past posts, Chinese travellers have some unique needs. For example, they tend not to want rooms on the fourth floor or with four in the number as the word for four sounds close to the one for death.

Prioritising direct or metasearch bookings from this country will help you avoid any cultural faux pas; the extra guest information these reservations provide prior could be vital to tailoring service appropriately.

Read our post about the characteristics of the Chinese market, our insight into how Expedia woos Asian travellers, and our Spotlight on… Direct Booking Strategies report if you want to learn more.

In the meantime, we’re off to track down one of these pocket translators to try it for ourselves…

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