Some regions of France have a strong tourist potential for international traffic, but still lack elements to increase their visibility. Through the case of Normandy, let’s study how to make a region more attractive for Chinese tourists, especially by using the online branding through social networks.
Tourism Statement in Normandy
Normandy has chosen to focus on tourism for its regional development. For the past ten years, it has been able to enhance its heritage and thereby increased its tourism revenues. 2014 was a particularly important year for the region, with the subsequent organization of the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014, the world kayak polo championships and the D-Day 70th anniversary with the venue of President Obama.
From now on, foreign tourists account for 28% of tourism in Normandy. It is mainly a local tourism (United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium) and a commemorative tourism (United States). The share of other nationalities come to discover the territory is tiny. At most Chinese tourists know Mont Saint-Michel well for its architecture that fascinates them, but only french-speakers will risk in the region.
Why Normandy attracts too few Chinese tourists
Normandy attracts too few Chinese tourists compared to its potential. The reasons are very simple: the region does not have (yet!) Infrastructures adapted to the reception of the Chinese public. Admittedly, most indications for tourists have been translated into English, given the high numbers of Americans and British attracted by historical remains (the landing beaches, the American cemetery …). The English translations on highway markers and in museums are already a big step forward towards the reception of international tourists.
This is not enough. The fascicles edited to accompany the visit of tourist monuments are, for example, too rarely translated into Chinese. But it is always more pleasant to read technical information in one’s mother tongue, even if one understands English well. To get a new audience, you have to anticipate its arrival!
Normandy hosts and restaurants struggle to express themselves in English even though their business is held in the most tourist areas. Menus are rarely translated, the visibility on the net is non-existent, which makes difficult a scheduled passage. However, tourists from as far away as this must count their time on the spot, each anticipation is a welcome facility.
Independent and connected Chinese tourists
Chinese tourists no longer travel in organized tours. They are now independent travelers, mostly English-speakers and hyper connected. The trip is not even planned with a computer: Chinese tourists use their Smartphone to inquire as to book their tickets and accommodation in advance via online platforms.
The travel advice forums and advisory platforms (such as Elong and Ctrip, which can be compared to the American Tripadvisor model) have a great influence on the choices of future tourists. Indeed, the Chinese netizens like to share on social networks all their experiences of daily life, and will note their taxi, restaurant, food delivery by Taobao …
E-reputation is an integral part of the tertiary sector in China, it is much better accepted than in Europe. Your adviser at the bank but also the receptionist of the hospital will systematically ask you to note their performance. The customer service needs to be very responsive when a customer declares dissatisfaction because a bad e-reputation receives such an audience that it can be devastating for a business.
Refer your offer on Baidu, Chinese search engine
If your website is referenced on Google only, and your contact address is in Gmail, you do not have to look any further why your tourism offer does not appeal to any Chinese customer. Like Facebook, Google is blocked in China, making it impossible to use Youtube or Gmail. Since the government restriction in 2018 on the use of VPNs, it is becoming more and more difficult to cheat.
To reach Chinese customers, you must be referenced on Chinese search engines and social networks. Exit Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Google: you have to distil your content on Baidu, Wechat and Youku.
Baidu is the most used search engine in China. 70% of online searches by Chinese Internet users go through Baidu. Wechat is an instant messaging system that has exceeded one billion active accounts, a considerable result even if we know that the same user can use multiple accounts (private, professional, etc.). Youku is the Chinese equivalent of Youtube.
Your visibility on the Chinese web is essential to make you known. The big question is to drive traffic to your website. To properly reference your website on Baidu, you must gradually add content in Chinese then do a whole job of internal SEO that our Gentlemen Marketing Agency can help you develop. Keep in mind that if your website is visible on the front page of Google.com, your out-of-border existence is probably in the zero state. How to be convinced? Connect to another country’s IP address through a VPN, and start a Google or Baidu search. Suddenly, your site is no longer ranked first or disappears completely … For China, this SEO work is to start again from the beginning.
What is a quality website for Chinese customers?
What is a quality website for better SEO on Baidu, and by extension a larger attendance of Chinese Internet users?
– A site hosted on a Chinese server, because the Chinese servers are referenced in priority on Baidu compared to foreign servers. It’s a question of page loading speed, because the user does not like to wait too long.
– A site translated into Mandarin Chinese AND English, which makes you accessible to all Chinese urban population and expatriates in China.
– A clear and well built site, which is pleasant reading and where the user is not lost among the headings.
– QR codes to redirect people to your official accounts on social networks, like for example an official Wechat account that you have created to be closer to your potential customers.
Why Wechat is used by Internet users in the preparation of trips
Wechat is used by companies to advertise. This is in the form of an official account, where Internet users subscribe and can receive some information per month on the company (promotions, exceptional event …), but also in the form of ambassadors (also known as influencers). Internet users who, for remuneration, agree to solicit other Internet users by advertising the company on discussion groups and their own Wechat profile.
Using Wechat to make yourself known is a fairly popular method because it has the advantage of not spaming; Ambassadors target targeted discussion groups where Internet users are specifically looking for this type of product, and Wechat can be used as a small search engine to find official brand accounts. It is the Internet users who are looking for information, not you who invade them in their personal space. Therefore, you just have to do everything to be visible in the first results on Wechat, sharing content and being actively engaged on groups.
Develop your e-reputation on Chinese social networks
As said before, Chinese tourists will take the time to read and learn about travel forums before planning their departure. Two popular travel forums recently were Mafengwo and Qyer, where Internet users can share their holiday experiences. The two websites Ctrip and Elong receive the greatest confidence from the Internet about the reviews of hotel services. Be careful, however, popular websites can become outdated very quickly, so keep up with the latest trends.
Forums having a powerful impact on the e-reputation of a company or tourist offer, it is essential for any professional to control what is said on it. The first tip is to create positive discussions around your offer. The second aims to limit excessive negative comments, if possible by exercising control over their publication, if not by answering each without fail to show the deployment of your after-sales service.
Finally, banner ads on Baidu or Pay Per Click will create traffic on your website; this is by increasing your visibility as well as giving you more confidence in your prospects, who will see you better referenced on the web and will be more inclined to give credit to your offer.
Do you have a project related to Chinese tourism abroad? You want to make your tourist offer more attractive for Chinese tourists or develop a website for Chinese customers?
Our Gentlemen Marketing Agency is specialized in digital marketing. We are based in Shanghai, China, close to the latest trends in the Chinese market. We can help you generate leads in the tourism sector. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information !