Marketing strategies for hotels looking to attract Chinese customers
Are you a hotel trying to attract Chinese tourists? Well, you made the right decision because China has the biggest outbound tourism market in the world. According to Travel China Guide, there were more than 120 million Chinese people going abroad last year in 2015, with a 12% growth rate compared to 2014.
Taping in the Chinese outbound tourism market is definitely the right approach to grow your overall business. You have access to several tools and have the opportunity to use various marketing strategies to attract your Chinese target market.
1: Go digital – have your own website
With more than 660 million Internet users in China, having a strong presence online is a must. The question is how should you proceed? The first step on your way of being more visible on the Chinese market is to have your own website, but not any kind of website. Your website should be tailored to the Chinese market requirements.
Here are some tips to avoid any missteps in your digital marketing journey to attract Chinese visitors:
- Have a website with good usability
- Use Chinese Mandarin
- Publish high-quality content
- Make it SEO-friendly (make sure that its respect Baidu’s (first search engine in China) requirements.
- Diversify your content: high-quality pictures, videos, …
2: Partner with famous online Chinese and international travel agencies
Another way to be present on the Chinese tourism market and to attract Chinese tourists to stay at your hotel is to register to famous Chinese and International travel agencies. The main players in the OTA’s market in China are: Ctrip (with about ¼ of the market), followed by Tuniu, CY, LVmama and Aoyou.
Being on these websites will allow your hotel to not have to deal with how to find an reasonable audience for your website, gaining visibility and the use of payment tool. You may also consider having bilingual staff dedicated to booking management.
3: Be active on the Main Chinese Social Media
As we saw earlier, China is a very connected country with about half of the population having access to Internet. It is so widely used that many public places such as subway station, train station, or airports, in the biggest cities in China offer free Wifi. Also, more than 9 out 10 Chinese Internet users are social media users. Finally more than 90% of Chinese Internet users are using mobile phones.
Being active on these platforms will ensure that you have direct access to the Chinese audience and will help you to build your Chinese customer base.
The main social media platforms in China are very different from those of the West. In fact, since Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and other social media are forbidden in China, you will have to adapt your digital strategy to the Chinese market.
The main players in China are: WeChat, Weibo and QQ. There are also blogs and forums (Douban, Qyer). WeChat is by far the most widely used social media by Chinese people. WeChat, called Wei Xin is a text and audio messaging mobile app. In addition, it’s also a great tool of communication thanks to its numerous features available for regular and business users (through an official WeChat account): WeChat moments, WeChat mini-website, WeChat personalised app, etc. WeChat is famous among Chinese people with more than 580 million daily users.
The next one to consider using is WeiBo. Weibo can be seen as a “cousin” of Twitter as it’s a micro blogging platform. With more than 200 million daily active users, it’s a famous and well-known social media. On the picture above we can see that Accor Hotels posted on Weibo an offer: 3 nights for 2 paid.
4: Collaborate with KOL (Key Opinion Leader) : a big plus for Hotels
Finally, build further your e-reputation and create your hotel’s own story by collaborating with KOL known as Key Opinion Leaders. They are people who are well regarded by a high number of Chinese people and thus are listened to and respected for their shared opinions. Depending on your hotel’s target market, you may choose a celebrity or online celebrity who shares the same values as your business and enjoys travelling to where you are at. These people, KOL, have thousands, even millions of followers and thus, have a huge influence on their fans. At the beginning of this paragraph, I talked about e-reputation. Do your best to communicate efficiently with your Chinese target market, understand their needs and do your best to have positive comments online. Why is it so important? It is important because Chinese people in general and even more Chinese tourists attach strong importance to their “Face”, a Chinese principle called Mian Zi. The principle of Mian Zi is deeply rooted in Chinese culture it can be defined has “honour” or “reputation” even though it’s way more complicated than that. It’s one of the main reasons why Chinese enjoy buying luxury items to show to their relatives and friends back home.
As a conclusion, before drafting your plan to attract Chinese tourists, you have to understand what are their habits and what they do value the most. What are your target market needs? In China, your marketing strategy should strongly focus on the Internet, social media, partnerships with KOL/Famous Chinese OTA’s and finally making sure that you have a great reputation.