Airlines in China : Most Effective Marketing Strategy
Airlines Marketing is a big step for every international airlines company which want to develop their service in China.
China’s airlines face opportunities and challenges
China’s airlines face opportunities and challenges from expected increased market competition which begin to grow so fast. China’s big three airlines are Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines, and their subsidiary airlines have been a bright spot in the airline industry globally, averaging until recently returns of 15%.
China is moving ahead with new reforms which are being relaxed for the new entrant airlines. The goals of the reforms tend to increase market competition. As the demand for airline travel is growing up in China, the stage is set for market expansion.
Travel industry in China
Travel in China is a huge industry. The number of travelers in China could easily rise by 50 or 60 %. Combined with China’s newly middle class, this segment will represent 80 % of urban consumption by 2022, up from 30% in 2012. With only 4 % of the population owning passports, China still surpassed the United States and Germany as the world’s leader in international travel since 2012. In 2017 more than 127 million Chinese traveled abroad, spending USD 126 billion in their destination countries. These growth spots are creating opportunities for new air routes.
The Airlines agencies must change their marketing strategy in order to handle the new demand. In fact, actually, the distribution is disproportionately centered on direct sales and traditional travel agencies, with little e-commerce. The Airlines have to adapt the new marketing strategies to the new wave of Chinese millennial travelers (20- 30 years old), who are more open-mind, independent, looking forward to traveling. They are also Internet-savvy, 80 % of them are booking online.
The ultimate guide for Airlines Company
Promoting airlines in China
What challenges will you face when promoting your airline in China ?
Chinese airlines offer insanely cheap deals to lure back travelers
With the drastic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Aviation and Tourism/Travel industry, Chinese airlines are coming up with many interesting deals, to attract potentials travelers. According to Civil Aviation, China has registered a deficit of RMB40 billion in the first part of 2020. At this moment China’s aviation industry is only starting to taking its first steps toward recovery.
For example, earlier this year China Southern Airlines sold travel tickets at only 10% or even 20% of their original prices.
With the Chinese government’s intent to relaunch work and factories, domestic flights are slowly starting to resume, and as expected China’s national aviation industry is also warming up again. Because of the large-scale expansion of the Coronavirus cases overseas and as well as long-haul flight restrictions, international travel still shows a downhill trend. As many assume the improvement of international travel will require more time.
The local market is very well developed
The international market is experiencing speedy growth, mainly driven by an intense expansion from Chinese airlines. In recent years foreign airline companies have been steadily losing their market shares in China resulting in a decrease in foreign companies’ presence, especially in the global Asian area. For the year 2018 Chinese airlines increased their international passenger traffic by +14%. At present, there are now 29 Chinese airlines companies competing for their share of the national and international market. It is also important to note that in the past years competition from Chinese companies has also been accentuated on short and medium travel within the Asian area.
Interesting figures :
- The number of Chinese airlines operating international services went from 15 to 29 over the last three years.
- The number of Chinese airlines operating long-haul services has grown from four to 10 over the past four years.
- Chinese airlines are pursuing a more rapid international expansion (2019), which will impact foreign competitors.
The three largest Chinese airlines :
Coupled together, these three companies account for 61% of international seat capacity only from Chinese airlines, and 33% of total international seat capacity (including foreign airlines). Each of these airlines has more than 100 international travel itineraries and is globally of similar in size.
Then concerning medium size airlines :
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Sichuan Airlines
- Juneyao Airlines
- Shanghai Airlines
- Shandong Airlines) account for 15% of the chinese market.
Concerning the 18 smaller companies, they account for 12% of the market.
Chinese airlines ranked by international seat capacity & number of international routes (2019)
For your airline to succeed, you need a strong marketing plan
Get creative and think outside the box when promoting your airline in China
Ensure that you’re providing excellent customer service at all times, even if it’s not on time or delayed
Providing good customer service is all about building good relationships with your customers, being thankful to them, and promoting a positive, helpful, and friendly service that will ensure that they leave with a great impression of your brand.
Bear in mind, a happy customer will return often and is likely to spend more !
Small tips on how to provide the best customer service :
- Know what your customers expect to be good customer service and take the time to find out customers’ expectations.
- Follow up on every review, both positive and negative feedback that you receive.
- Continuously look for ways to improve the level of customer service that you deliver.
To build good customer relationships :
- Greet customers and approach them in a way that is natural and fits the cultural values of the person.
- Show customers that you understand what their needs are.
- All of your staff need to have good communication and sales skills.
Get a chinese website so you can rank efficiently on Baidu
It is vital to have a website in Chinese to attract Chinese consumers. A Chinese website with the right keywords will allow you to rank higher on Baidu search engine which is China’s most used search engine. In addition, your website should also incorporate an easy online payment setup because Chinese tourists are very much used to this payment system.
Baidu is China’s largest search engine holding over 70% of the Chinese market share. The search engine accounts for 4 million searches per minute which is more than Google displays, Google sits at around 3 million searches a minute.
Make it easy to book tickets: OTAs, WeChat, your own website
Allowing your clients to book their tickets easily and on a wide array of platforms, will make your customers more inclined to book their tickets with your company.
- WeChat : The app started as an instant messaging app but now has developed an ecosystem where users can perform a wide variety of activities such as making transactions, ordering food, booking tickets, calling a taxi, playing games… The more users commit to Wechat and the longer time they spend on the app, the greater the marketing opportunities it offers.
- OTAs : Chinese tourists usually book their hotel rooms through OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) or through the hotel’s official website. One of the most popular online booking websites in China is Ctrip, the leader in the industry. Ctrip provides all types of services from booking flight tickets, hotels, packages, to useful content about destinations and even reviews about hotels.
- Your company’s website : The first step to having a presence in China and allowing potential tourists to learn about their structure is to create a website in Chinese. The truth however is that most Chinese people are not able to speak English, so it is essential to provide your company’s infos and services offer in Mandarin. It is therefore essential to provide relevant content and your website should provide information on what Chinese travelers want to know.
Promote your airlines in China with a social media campaign
Just like with any other type of marketing, the use of social media is the main strategy for most Chinese companies because it enables businesses to be viewed as less intrusive and it gives a more personalized feel for the consumer. Moreover, social media encourages their users to share posts and pictures which helps in spreading of word of mouth, another form of advertisement.
Use influencers marketing to promote your airlines in China
KOLs are key : Marketing your brand through the use of Chinese travel KOLs is a great way to increase your visibility on Chinese premier travel review platforms. China’s most popular KOLs have built incredible fanbases amounting to millions of followers through their credibility and professionalism in providing top-quality and trustworthy travel recommendations and info.
What is the right Airlines marketing strategy in China?
Having a good pricing
For attracting more Chinese travelers, you have to include an affordable price for the new travelers, training the pilots with better scheduling for pilots, crew, and aircraft and understanding the slot restrictions in major airports. Each airline will have to assign existing resources efficiently but expand early to serve the new customer segments and geographies, including new airports and existing secondary hubs.
It’s still more beneficial to have a Chinese website, for providing a better experience to your Chinese Customers. They trust and understand more a Chinese website than an English website. Keep in mind that Chinese customers get information online, so with nearly than 900 million internet users, it will be benefit for you to have a Chinese website.
Last but not least, you must have a customer service available 24h/24, because Chinese travellers search information anytime and everywhere. For more credibility you have to be there to reply to any request around the clock.
For example, we worked with Aeroflot – Russian Airlines.
In fact Aeroflot-Russian Airlines is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation. Our Agency helped them to improve their website for the Chinese tourists.
- Content Management
- Social Media strategy
- Strong E-Reputation on the Market
- Good engagement on Forums / social Media
Having a good reputation online
Online reputation is very important in China. Doesn’t matter if you have a good Chinese website or an affordable price, without good reputation, it means nothing. So, every Airlines company has to work on its reputation, make sure that bad comments don’t affect your company. This is the reason why you have to work with a good digital marketing agency, for keeping your company image still high.
It’s also important, to consider PR and post press releases to communication about your Airlines Company and destinations.
A booking platform
After making sure that you have a good reputation and Chinese web site, Chinese travelers turn to the Booking platforms and forums, for more information. So for more visibility you have to be present on the booking platforms and forums such as CTrip, Qunar, Douban, Qyer , Mafengwo….
Social Media Marketing
The Chinese social media landscape is very powerful. Now, every brand or company adopt the social media marketing as weapon for attracting more and more Chinese customers. It’s not fake news!!!
In fact, Wechat is the most popular Chinese social media, with more than 800 million active users, it take part of Chinese daily life through all its functionalities such as billing, booking, pay a taxi, …..
Moreover, we have Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), with more than 550 million of active users. It’s also very used in China.
Actually, Chinese KOLs and Bloggers are big influencers. Every Chinese customers trust them. They are able to influence the Chinese customers’ decisions just through their posts, comments or video. So, it will be more profitable for Airlines Company to work with the Travelers bloggers in order to enhance the company image and generate more traffic.
How to increase your Booking ?
It’s the process to convert a traditional user who visits your website ‘company or just wants to buy the aerial ticket you’re offering. So by extension, we can call it: Lead Generation, with the main goal to attract visitors to your platform and turning them into customers. Being able to have all the information about an user who approached you (name, email address, phone number, etc) is the key that make you tailor your offer and contact them.
You need a Tourism Marketing Agency specialized of the Chinese Market ?
Contact us to discuss your project in China !
- We have experience in Airlines Marketing in China.
- We help you to develop your business in China with effective Solution
- We have 7 years of experience in the Chinese market