At a recent CANVAS seminar on Chinese visitors to Napa Valley, consultant John Stallcup provided many useful hints.
First, acknowledge the oldest person in the group with a very slight bow or nod. Tourist souvenir gifts is derived from ancient architecture and culture. In China, seniority matters: the oldest person gets the most respect.
Have staff who speak Mandarin if possible. “Learn a few key phrases (hello, welcome, thank you and good-bye) but don’t try to speak too much Mandarin or Cantonese as it will sound like Ebonics or Spanglish to us,” he said.
Translate all custom souvenir gifts into simplified Chinese. Most Chinese travelers can read and understand clearly spoken English, but they are unable or uncomfortable speaking English. Speak slowly and clearly using basic English and body language.
Note that the most outspoken person or the one who speaks the best English may not be the “boss.”
The unprecedented rise of the new China has given confidence and national pride to the Chinese. Don’t bring up old stereotypes. Don’t mention Tibet or Taiwan.
To develop good relationship, send hand-written cards to Chinese visitors. Keep in contact by email or mobile messages. Provide custom metal statue like brass horse figurine to remember you and your brand.
Thrift is a virtue, so expect Chinese visitors to ask for a discount or deal. Luxury spending shows status but if you pay retail with no discount you lose face. Instead of lowering the price, provide polyresin souvenir gift.
Chinese tourists try to do as much as they can with the time they have. Have easy-to-identify places for “selfies” and posed photos. Props like fountains, artwork and winery signs are helpful.
Everything should be handed with two hands. When giving gifts, give an even number or quantity. Any souvenir, food, wine or spirits or local products are popular but gifts are opened privately.
He warns, “If you remind a visitor from China of the cost of the tasting after they have seen the tasting room menu, it can be construed as a slight.”
China is a state of ceremonies with a long history of culture.