Chinese tourists especially young-independent travelers are known for thoroughly planning their trips in advance. Much of this pre-trip homework starts 1-2 months before departure and is happening online. According to Hotels.com, Chinese tourists spend 12 days researching online and visit at least one online price comparison site. Moreover, when booking, millennials are keen to use their mobiles, whereas, older travelers choose traditional booking methods (desktop, phone calls, physical visits). Taking this into consideration, it is necessary to let Chinese tourists know about your brand before reaching a destination.
Here is a list of the 5 trends that are taking the travel market in China. You need to follow them in order to attract Chinese tourists
OFFICIAL AND TRAVEL WEBSITES
Travel websites and blogs continue to be the most-used resource for Chinese tourists to plan their trips overseas. For your own website, simple translations will not be enough to attract a Chinese audience. To make it China-ready you should:
- Host and register your website in China. Having a .cn address helps you to avoid the slow loading time per page due to China´s Firewall and to comply with China´s government regulations by having an Internet Content Provider (ICP) License. If not having a business license in China, you might need an agency to do this registration for you.
- Have a mobile or responsive version working. As mentioned in the first blog of this series, 80% of Chinese netizens are mobile internet users.
- Increase visibility via SEO. Baidu is by far the most used search engine in China ( 77% market share vs. 10% of Google China ) and offers advertisement similar to Google. Same as with a .cn website, you need an agency to do this paperwork if not having a business license in China.
ONLINE TOUR OPERATORS
Other sources of information and booking platforms are online tour operators (OTA) like Ctrip, Qunar and eLong; travel e-Commerce sites like Tuniu and vertical travel websites like QYER, Mafengwo, and China’s TripAdvisor. The latter relies heavily on user-generated content (UGC) in the form of travel diaries and itineraries. For UGC websites you can start by creating a company profile, share content and manage reviews. OTAs have attractive advertisement packages at your disposal. You can also utilize SiteMinder’s Channel Manager to connect your hotel and reach global guests
WeChat and Weibo are the platforms with more active social media users. Under the social media constellation, WeChat is well known as being the rising star and allows its users (1 billion monthly users in March 2018) to pretty much do everything in one place. For tourism providers, the app can be used to
- Create brand awareness: By having an official account, businesses have something like a website in WeChat, which allows them to share information, link external websites, promote campaigns and provide customer services within the app. From the kinds of accounts available, a subscription account is good for constant content sharing allowing one post a day, whereas, a service account only allows four posts a month, but includes eCommerce functions. Via WeChat Moments users can share stories, supported by photo and video materials, similar to a Facebook wall. A good way to promote your destination.
- Communicate with possible and current clients/partners: With WeChat´s messaging, voice & video calls and location sharing, it is possible to share itineraries, send locations or meeting points, as well as to communicate with business partners in group chats.
- Offer customer service: Besides online chatting, WeChat has an integrated chatbots function. Moreover, mini-programs can be used to create an in-destination guide and add eCommerce and booking functions. Other features are WeChat Payment.
MAKING VIDEO AND LIVE STREAMING
Increasingly popular are the video and live streaming platforms. According to Mafengwo´s independent traveler report, 42% of Chinese FITs from the post-90s generation get inspiration to travel from video content. Youku is a source for long-form, professionally made videos. Whereas, Maiopai and Toutiao Video are platforms for short, mainly semi-professional and self-made videos. Short videos and live streaming, for example on Yizhibo, are commonly used in China to promote events, launch products and give short pieces of information.
Travel KOLs are the biggest hit in China when it comes to planning that long-awaited trip! In China, young travelers tend to choose planning their own trip as supposed to joining a tour group. With a four days three night trip, for example, the average Chinese user spends an average of 42 hours on the internet for research. On top of all of this, travel KOL are the largest source that effects the destination, hotel or airline choices in China. Key Opinion Leaders are a powerful tool for companies to increase their products’ exposure and build up the brand image.
We are a Digital Marketing Agency based in Shanghai and we are specialized in online reputation and branding, focused on Chinese digital growth. Feel free to contact us if you want to develop a market for your product or service in China.
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