The incredible increase of e-tourism in China
China has experienced a particularly impressive growth over the last 5 years and although some industry are stoping to grow, this is not the case of two sectors: tourism and e-commerce.
Chinese tourism market is indeed very sought after. It is not before the late 20th century that Chinese got 2 days off per week and 9 public holidays per year. After that, tourism started to be on the rise. Between 2000 and 2012, the market has increased by 8 times and they are now the first number of tourists traveling abroad (almost 100 million in 2013) and they are the most spendthrift (75.5 billion euros in 2012) too.
China is also hosting the largest number of netizens with about 600 million Internet users in 2014. This represents almost half of the population and it is more than the actual European Union’s population. On the 600 million users, almost half had already made a purchase on the Internet and this is increasing of 30% each year. By 2015, China will be the first e-commerce market in the world.
How does the chinese tourist think ?
As you may have noticed, the growth of these two sectors has produced a change in the way tourists decide to choose their holiday destination. In Western countries, we decide a particular destination thanks to family or network advice. While in China, it is mainly the Internet that will tip the scale to a corner of the globe or another.
Internet has become an indispensable tool for over 50% of Chinese if they want to go on holidays abroad. When it comes to choosing a destination, book a hotel or a flight, the first reflexes they will have, is to search and seek for information on the web. Before taking the final decision, they will cast a glance at the social networks. Read reviews, watch travelers’s pictures, check out on forums the reputation of the travel agency and its services and then ask its virtual network.
If you want to capture Chinese tourists’ attention, you need to know what influences them the most and what are the place where they seek for information. Then, you will be able to control information, the image that your brand vehicle and know the best ways to sell travel services on the Chinese Internet.
Favorite on-line places you don’t want to miss
If today’s large traditional agencies such as CITS or CIT, are not winning unanimous support, new players take place into the market. Ctrip, eLong Qunar, Ivmama, Tuniu manage to distinguish themselves and even control a big piece of the market as they occur only on the Internet and therefore riding the wave of the e-commerce and e-tourism in the same time.
Baidu is never off the Chinese tourists lips these days. This is the main search engine in China (similar to Google) with 70% market share. It offers countless features and functions including Sina. This site offers the possibility for Chinese to share their experience and give feedback on their travel. Other blogs and forums exist as well and mostly appreciate by the population. Among them are Tuniu or Baidu Tieba.
If you want Chinese tourists to find you through Baidu, your site must be well ranked on this search engine. A good ranking is necessary in China and, of course, possible if you choose appropriate keywords to match your agency services. Afterwards, you will have a much better percentage of customer really interested in your services.
Your website must be hosted in China, written entirely in Mandarin and be consistent with Baidu’s standards. Let’s not forget Baidu uses different algorithms from Google, the ranking is therefore not based on the same criterion. SEO or SEM campaign can also help you gain visibility by enhancing your position on the search engine and target interested customers. Several foreign companies based in China can help you build that kind of strategy.
Bein referenced on Baidu is the first steps to attracting Chinese tourists
After establish yourself on the Chinese search engine, then travelers will be able to solicit your company for its services directly on your website, which they are used to do in general. Press is also a good way to have visibility and reassure clients on your services but don’t forget to choose specialized one to match your target. Online ads and commercials are taken too, but the target is too vague to be truly qualitative.
Social networks are the most used channels in China and particularly in this sector. 92% of active Internet users use social networks. On these platforms, some accounts are entirely dedicated to the promotion of travel, not in a commercial way, but through travelers posting their latest discovery. To discuss with forum’s users and try to make a name for yourself, one thing have to be done: register on Sina Weibo, WeChat and Tuniu. These are the places of choice for Chinese who share their last trip abroad.
Key Opinion Leader are very important
Among them, Key Opinion Leader (KOL). In China, they are present on every social networks and are very popular among Chinese. Whether for cosmetic brands, clothes brands or for travel agencies, it is always in your favor to be named by one of the KOL. Several agencies also had the good idea to offer free trips to stars or celebrities in exchange for them to post their holidays on social networks and, by that, share with their entire virtual community. Yaochen (the Chinese actress) made the buzz by posting photos of her holidays in New Zealand. This led to a crave for the country never seen before.
A precious help
If you want to start in the Chinese e-tourism, you need to know some websites. They do not value their own airline or resort but offer to host and reference your service to allow Chinese tourists to compare them with other company. The good side of these platforms is that they have a reputation that will automatically impact your agency and your services.
There are several e-tourism firm that emerged in the past year. Ctrip is one of them, brand new, the application has wreaked havoc and the company dominates the market with its 8000 employees. Qunar, the new application of Baidu is unbeatable in terms of traffic. Finally, eLong, the oldest, which loses its influence and is about to close down. These platforms, such as the famous B2C and C2C ones, let customers interact and share with each other after their trip.
These companies go up in the ranking of the most successful companies in China and for the first time this year came up in the top 100. This is why they will help you improve your sales faster. Register your hotel complex, seaside resort, your restaurant or your business is more than necessary to succeed in the Chinese market. Chinese consumers are very oriented and influenced by the price. More than knowing what others think about a destination, they want to compare prices. These platforms are the perfect tool for them, so do not hesitate!