How will Chinese New Year affect your business?
Chinese New Year 2019, also known as The Spring Festival, begins officially on Tuesday 5 February, ushering in ‘The Year of the Pig’. Its a two-week long Spring Festival celebrating family, prosperity and good fortune.
It’s also a particularly busy travel period in the regions that recognise the Lunar New Year, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
Chinese New Year always poses some challenges to business travellers, but at the same time it provides opportunities to strengthen your ties with customers and contacts.
Here are some guidelines for doing business during Chinese New Year 2019.
Flights to & from Asia during this period will be particularly busy and therefore expensive so booking early is key to getting a reasonable priced ticket. It also means that once in country travelling around will be particularly hectic. You should bear this in mind when leaving to pick up your return or internal flights and allow extra time. You also need to accept that your search during this time for using upgrades on your loyalty account will not be too fruitful either.
Also it’s not too late to start thinking about Chinese New Year 2020, this is on 25th January next year so it’s particularly early. Flights wont become available for you to book until February this year but if you plan ahead you can be the first to swoop in and get the best deals.
Business interactions during the Spring Festival
First of all, although the New Year celebrations don’t start until the 5th February, companies tend to close earlier to allow employees to travel home to their families. So UK businesses need to plan for this by forecasting demand and making sure that they forward order enough stock to cover this period and don’t rely upon just in time delivery. Those companies that have already experienced this period in previous years will also know that there are other Chinese holidays that have a similar effect albeit not so great an impact.
The main impact on business with what amounts to a nationwide shutdown starts on the 8th February and lasts to around the 15th or 16th February. The lead up to the 8th and recovering days post 15th/ 16th have some impact but not as great as the 7 or 8 days in-between. During these days the normal bustling life subsides as the streets seem empty in comparison.
So business interactions reduce during this time but businesses should take the opportunity to embrace it. If you are meeting up with a contact during this time then be sure to wish them a happy New Year to show that you respect their customs and traditions.
Phrases to use
Gong Xi Fa Chai (pronounced gong-shee-far-chai) translates to “wishing you to enlarge your wealth”, and is a phrase meaning prosperity and success
Xin Nian Kuai Le (pronounced shin-nian-kwy-ler) simply means “happy new year”
Gift-giving is a major part of the celebrations as it is in the UK. However there is a minefield of superstitions to overcome when selecting the right present.
If your gift is flowers, then for the flowers and wrapping, the colour red is by far the safest option. White, black and sometimes yellow can be associated with death, mourning or other negative things.
The number 4 is considered unlucky because as with the colour of flowers this number sounds like the word for death. However the number 8 is considered lucky because it sounds like the word for wealth.
Whenever in doubt, try giving something that involves 8s, especially with simple gifts like premium chocolates.
While this list is not exhaustive, avoid giving watches (time is running out), pears, handkerchiefs, umbrellas or sharp objects even if ceremonial in nature. They all represent separation in one form or another.
A safe option is usually always good quality chocolates, 8 of them, wrapped in red packaging.
If you’d like to know more about how Mint Business Travel can help you when you travel to Asia just call us.