"They're keen on discussing and sharing their experiences online. It's all there. You just need to have someone Chinese do the data mining."
'New Chinese tourist'
The industry is adapting, acknowledges Arlt, but many big players have yet to recognize that the demographics are quickly shifting.
"The problem is the international tourism industry is slowly catching up with the idea that the Chinese traveler is coming, but in fact the Chinese traveler is already here and they're segmenting," says Arlt.
"You have two kinds of tourists. Package tourists, who are usually first time travelers. They do the eight European countries in 10 days, ticking off the sites. For them the most important thing is to get that shot in front of the Eiffel Tower."
This type of tourist appreciates the congee and hot water kettle, he says.
"But you have a growing number of what we call the 'new Chinese tourist.' People who are better educated, with more travel experience -- most have been students abroad so they know their way around. Self-organized."
It's these tourists who are looking to try the local cuisine and want new experiences, he says, and resent being stereotyped as an ignorant traveler from the countryside who can't live without his instant noodles.
"I think we're maturing in all kinds of areas very fast, be it taste of destination or taste of foreign cuisine," agrees WildChina's Zhang.
"But the majority of [Chinese] tourists still need to develop. One problem area is advance planning. We have few clients who plan six months ahead. So they end up giving last minute requests for Michelin-starred dinners and they just can't get in.
"Then they become unhappy because they think money can get anything. The game in the international market is slightly different. So advance planning is something they're learning."
Tourists behaving badly
No discussion of Chinese tourism would be complete without addressing the backlash now making the rounds in some sectors of the travel industry.
To put this into context, Zhang describes a popular urban legend about a wealthy Chinese tourist who entered a famous luxury boutique in Milan with a lit cigarette.
When asked to put out the cigarette, the woman replied that she'd buy 20 purses if she was allowed to smoke in the shop.
Next thing you know, the woman is handed an ashtray, and the boutique did indeed earn a nice profit that day.
Zhang says allowing that behavior is a double-edged sword.
"Rich Chinese tourists are pushing the boundaries and unfortunately some of these places are bending to their will," she says.
"Particularly the newly rich, who think, 'If I'm paying money then I'm God.'"
Arlt says Chinese are often proud of the fact that they're at the top of the wealth chain, given that the Cultural Revolution is still fresh the minds of people over 40.
"This has happened all in one generation," he says. "Many [Chinese tourists] have parents who didn't have shoes. All this growth happened so fast it's still in living memory.
"Now they're showing the world and themselves: 'I'm strong, I can go spend US$5,000 for nothing, just for my pleasure.'"
And they're more than happy to rub it in the West's face, he adds.
"The Chinese have the idea that since the Opium Wars they've been oppressed and looked down on, so now they're coming back rich," Arlt says.
"This is the fun for them. You toss some coins and Western people dance for you."