Marketing your property for High Season with the Chinese consumer in Mind
By Jack Miles
If you have a property to let out or sell, or are a hotel owner aiming to cash in on the massive increase of Chinese tourists visiting Pattaya, it is worth looking at interior design aspects that are all important to making Chinese clients feel comfortable. An ancient art and belief developed over 3,000 years ago Feng shui is based on the Taoist understanding of nature and the vision that the land is alive and filled with “Chi” (energy). Feng means wind and shui water and in Chinese culture wind and water are associated with good health and fortune.
Feng shui is a complex body of knowledge and much of what it is about has to do with the orientation of a building or unit therein. However, there are plenty of guide lines for interior design touches that can be put in place and will be appreciated by Chinese customers who believe this art helps balance the energy of any given space and assures health and good fortune to the people inhabiting it. For example the placement of the bed in the bedroom is one of the more important aspects of feng shui since it is a place where much time is spent. The concept is to ensure that positive energy is channelled into the correct areas and doesn’t seep away. The bed should not be placed in line with the door but the door should still be visible and the head of the bed should rest against a strong supporting wall so that energy can be protected around the bed. Other feng shui factors include ensuring that nothing is stored underneath the bed and also that there is a hard, solid headboard in place. Try to make the bed approachable from both sides and also allow enough space to place a bedside table on each side .
Since the bedroom is considered a place of solace then the removal of the TV, computer and other similar items is a good thing to ensure the eradication of negative energy and stress. This may seem counter intuitive since many people wish to use these modern conveniences whilst in bed, but as a feng shui condition they should be moved to another room. It could be worth making a partition in the bedroom so that a TV and computer can still be included in any offering but are not situated directly in the sleeping area.
Although good air quality is essential, plants in the bedroom are not considered good feng shui, even though they may seem to be assisting with providing fresh oxygen. It will be seen as more feng shui positive to have a good air purifier instead and the ability to open windows and let fresh air into the sleeping space.. Plants in other rooms are more acceptable if you want to give your place a green touch.
For colour, much depends on the orientation of the space to determine the colour scheme. A "bagua" is a feng shui map divided into eight sectors, namely North, South, East and West as well as the half steps between them. Specific areas of the map are associated with an element such as Fire, Earth, Metal, Water or Wood and these elements have corresponding colour preferences. When the colours match the elements it leads to good feng shui and this will be appreciated very much by Chinese clients. As an example, fire is the colour of passion and is the governing force in the Southern area of a property. The colours associated with fire are pink, orange, strong yellow, purple and red. In contrast, the earth element should help with calmness and is associated with the Northeast and Southwest areas of a property. It would naturally be sensible to locate the bedroom in these areas where possible. The colour schemes for this area should be pale yellow, cream, beige or brown.
There are plenty of feng shui guides available and each of them goes into varying depths of detail complete with strict or not so strict rules, some of which may sometimes seem contradictory. However feng shui may not necessarily interfere with your other potential markets as you can easily make your property feng shui compliant without compromising its appeal to those people who are not Chinese or who have no apparent interest in this ancient art.
With building orientation in mind, some research may help you purchase a property that is perfectly oriented at the outset. If you have not yet chosen a property or if it is in a shell state, then this may turn out to be valuable position to be in, as you will be able to start from scratch.
With the choice of property in mind it is also worth looking at the address of the property and in particular the unit or building number. In Chinese culture, there are certain numbers that have auspiciousness and other numbers that are considered highly negative. This may be superstition but it is very prevalent in Chinese culture. The number eight is considered the most auspicious number. It is said to bring good luck and fortune. You may see this a lot in advertising in China. For example on menus you may see prices ending in 8 or 88 such that each dish on the menu has some lucky energy associated with it. It doesn’t stop there either. Prices of anything from cars to condo units often have a price with a number of 8s in them. Many airlines use the number 8 or multiple instances thereof for their flight numbers from China. The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm and so it goes on and on. If your building number has the number 8 in it then the property could sit very well with a Chinese buyer. Other auspicious numbers are zero, six and nine. Look to include these numbers in the advertised price to grab the attention of a Chinese buyer. For example, maybe instead of pricing your condo at 1.75 million baht advertise it at 1.88 million.
Whilst the number 8 is lucky, some other numbers are considered unlucky. Not many unlucky numbers exist but 4 and 5 are both considered to be bad. With the number four sounding similar to the word “death” in Chinese, it is the unluckiest number of all. So much so that some hotels in China and Taiwan miss out the 4th floor entirely and also don’t use the number 4 for any rooms at all. This may seem quirky but let us remember that in the west the 13th floor is often omitted in buildings with the floor 12A used instead. Using the number four in your building will mean hindering your ability to sell or rent out to Chinese customers.
With the above in mind it is clear that a little research can go a long way. Getting it wrong could cost you dearly when it comes to a property sale or rental but if you get the basics right then you are on a good footing to ensure your property is pleasing to the ever increasing influx of Chinese tourists.