Tomorrow (15 September) is Mid-Autumn Festival (known as “Zhong Qiu Jie” in Chinese), one of China’s most important festivals. Why is it so important? Because it celebrates family – the most important unit in Chinese society!
Mid-Autumn Festival is a time when Chinese families come together to worship the autumn full moon, celebrate the harvest – and eat mooncakes! With their round shape, like the moon, mooncakes are the embodiment of family unity.
What are mooncakes?
Mooncakes are normally round and extremely dense – good luck finishing one on your own! With an exterior of doughy pastry, the inside of a mooncake may contain red bean paste, lotus paste or a mixture of seeds (such as sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds). They are certainly an acquired taste, and I definitely tried to re-gift a few mooncakes back when I was studying in China!
In China, the current fitness and wellbeing craze is fuelling the demand for low calorie mooncakes, with sugar-free and organic varieties proving popular. Hotels and restaurants in China are also trying to out-do each other with exotic ingredients in their mooncakes to attract high-spending clientele. However, it appears few tourism businesses in Australia are currently making an effort to celebrate this important Chinese festival.
Why celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?
Last year, almost 77,000 Chinese visitors came to Australia in September, making them our second largest source of visitors after our New Zealand neighbours. This year, we can predict that around 95,000 Chinese tourists will be visiting Australia this month.
In fact, that estimate may prove to be a tad conservative, given that this year’s Mid Autumn Festival is a nationwide three-day public holiday (making it a four-day long weekend). With China’s National Day Golden Week starting on 1 October, it is likely that many upper middle class Chinese will combine the two events into an even longer holiday period, and Australia is always a top-choice destination.
You can bet that any business that makes an effort to observe Mid-Autumn Festival will have a great chance of attracting these tourists. Here are three easy ways tourism businesses can show their Chinese guests that you “get them” and join them in celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival.
1. Learn some Mandarin Phrases
If you can learn just one phrase for Mid-Autumn Festival, make it the first phrase below, which means “Happy Mid-Autumn Festival”. I’ve added my own phonetic guide below, but if you want to hear it out-loud, Google Translate is your friend. To really impress your Chinese customers, add the second phrase straight afterwards.
- 中秋快乐! Zhōng qiū kuài lè! = Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! (sounds like “jhong cheow k-why la“)
- 万事如意 Wàn shì rú yì = All the best! (sounds like “one shear roo yi“)
2. Embrace families
Mid-Autumn Festival is all about friends and family coming together and celebrating unity. And given that almost half of Chinese tourists visiting Australia do so with friends and family, it makes sense to do something special for these guests on Mid-Autumn Festival.
For hotels, that could mean making sure Chinese families are placed in connecting rooms, or offering free wi-fi so that they can call family members back home via WeChat. Restaurants could offer special deals for families or advertise any discounts you have for groups with children. Retailers could attract many more Chinese tourists into their stores by just putting a sign on the window saying “中秋快乐”.
But the easiest way to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival is…
3. Give Mooncakes!
Giving mooncakes is a great way to develop relationships (“guanxi“) with your Chinese guests. These gifts express well-wishes, and will really show your understanding of Chinese culture.
Wondering where you can pick some mooncakes up? Head to your local Chinatown and you’ll be sure to find a bakery or supermarket selling them, either individually or by the box. Here in Sydney I’ve heard good things about Emperor’s Garden Cakes in Haymarket, however be warned – these cakes are sweet!
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you all, and may your businesses all welcome more Chinese! 中秋快乐, 万事如意!
Want to find out how to welcome more Chinese tourists to your business? Contact China Ready Now today for a free consultation to see how we can help you!