As a professional of tourism, you want to make sure that your company is on the map for all tourists. Tour operators are still a big thing in China and many of you have contacted us asking for help to start working with them. However, collaborating with Chinese tour operators can become tricky if not done properly. This blog post will discuss some of the reasons why you should steer clear from these partnerships if you are not ready to put in the effort as well as how to gain Chinese tourists without working with a Chinese partner.
It is not always easy to break into the Chinese tourism market because the competition is very fierce and especially when we know the market dominance by some strong players such as Ctrip, How to compete with such players in the market ?
What you Should know with Chinese Travel Agencies
Some will turned their choice to those famous travel Chinese agencies offering you an interesting package with help concerning all the Chinese visa procedure … etc. But the question remains, is it profitable for you?
Unfortunately there is a flip side to every coin, working with these tourism agencies, presenting several disadvantages: not so much flexibility regarding and not so profitable margins. Among these agencies, the largest are: Agency of international tourism of China (CITS), the China Tourism Agency (CTS) etc…
The idea is to captivate by yourself potential customer’s attention, how? We are living in the booming of digital age, where everything is going through the online. 80% of Chinese users make their purchases online, this percentage is included trips researches. Adding to this, a potential of 680 million Chinese users on Internet users.
What are the reasons you want to collaborate with Chinese tour operators ?
1. If you don’t know how to promote your tours and if you don’t want to put any effort into promotion : then opting to work with a chinese tour operator is probably the best way to advertise your services because they have an excellent understanding of chinese consumer’s wants and needs.
2. You don’t want to put in the money : chinese tour operator’s main advantage is that they already have an existing customer base, experience with dealing with chinese customers, understanding of the market, they are more inclined on negociating attractive deals with local airlines.
3. Last but not least they already have connexions and networks in the chinese tourism industry.
Reasons not to collaborate with Chinese tour operators as a foreign travel agency ?
Downsides of working with chinese travel agencies
1. Chinese travel agencies have quite a bad reputation among western travel service providers because of their unethical business practices.
2. Foreign tour operators should avoid collaborating with chinese travel agencies because they are quite untrustworthy and will not hesitate to take advantage of you…
3. Foreign tour operators should also be wary of the risks implied with working with an unreliable partner because this can cause quite a lot of trouble, especially for the foreign service providers.
4. Foreign tour operators need to understand that if this partnership does go sour, it can be very hard or impossible to recover from such a difficult situation, because if they still wish to operate on the chinese market, having their reputation stained can be a consequent blow to their image among chinese consumers.
5. You will likely not be in charge of how they present your tours.
6. It wil be difficult for you to negotiate a good commission rate.
How do you convince tours operators to work with you ?
Taking care of your online reputation / e-reputation
Chinese Travel professionals will check the Reputation of your Agency on Chinese social media and forums, which means to check whether you have any positive comments or reviews. If they find nothing, they will just find another one. They do not like to take risks dealing with new players.
You have a strong presence on chinese internet and social networks
Branding is everything in China. Due to a long history of frauds and scams as well as quite loose regulations and laws, Chinese people in general have the mindset of trusting and prioritizing branded products or business partners. This is also why “guanxi” is important to do business in this country. Properly you have heard about this phenomenal. Chinese people prefer to a great extent to work with friends through friends, acquaintance through acquaintance instead of totally strangers.
Secure leading positions on Baidu search engine for keywords linnked to Travel and Tourism
Chinese travel agencies search on Baidu for potential suppliers. To attract quality leads, the best way is to appear on B2B search on Baidu, like Local Tour Operator in.
Plot twist, if you already have any of the above, you can sell your tours directly to Chinese tourists and you won’t have to pay a commission or rely on someones else’s goodwill.
Marketing to chinese travel agencies
Below you will find some tips regarding marketing strategies aimed towards chinese travel agencies :
An attractive website with quality content
If you want to attract your customers, you must have an attractive website with quality photos. You need to make your audience dreaming about the destination you’re selling. Do not bet only on stunning photos but also on the practical aspect of your website by giving some tips, where to go, must see places… etc. And trying to add videos in order to make your customer live the experience as close to reality as possible.
Read also : How to Attract Chinese Tourists ?
Case study : Australia’s Tourist Office
Take a look at the official website of tourism in Australia; it’s a nice looking website that combines a dreamy destination but also provides tips and insights about the destination.
This is one of the most important point on which you should focus your strategy. How to promote your content ?
Here is the essential SEO, if you want to get a good ranking on Baidu or Google, you need to optimize your SEO. Most of people will look on search engines to compare offers on Internet between travel agencies, this is where the keywords great battle begins. Continuing with our example of Australia, if you are properly referenced on the word “Australia Travel circuit”, you can get a good ranking on Google or Baidu. But a good SEO is not based only on the right keywords but also in a efficient SEO strategy.
- Produce content with quality backlinks related to your website (internal, external and social connections), you can optimize that content by producing a maximum of articles for example on a subject related to kangaroos in Australia. You must ensure that other qualified websites is referring you in their articles or on social networks.
- If you want to optimize your SEO on Baidu for example, you must have the TrustRank reflecting the quality of your content.
PPC / Baidu advertising
This is the paid method that allows Baidu to pay for every click you receive an Internet visitor. It’s a technique that works pretty well on a short term and allow you to boost the activity by spot results.
Most of Chinese people is searching on social networks before making any decision. Social networks is one of the primary sources of information for Chinese. However, regarding the tourism sector, it is better to focus on a well-established SEO strategy rather than a costly marketing campaign on social networks.
Social networks are a good way to boost your marketing campaign but using other supports can also be interesting.
In China, a lot of forums are powerful and have a lot of visitors. Travel-focused forums such as Mafengwo and Qyer collect a great amount of user-generated content sharing about their traveling experiences as well as advice. Chinese tourists search for travel guide, new places of attraction or recommendation for good hotels on these forums. Therefore, having positive Reviews on Forums will bring you attention of Chinese Tour Operators.
Travel KOL 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. Travel KOL are the largest source that effects the destination, hotel or airline choices in China. Key-Opinion-Leaders (KOL): A powerful tool for companies to increase their products’ exposure and build up the brand image.
A Chinese travel agency is a private retailer service or public governement Agency that provides travel related services to the public on behalf of suppliers such as activities, Trip, holiday packages, Cruise, Flight ticket, hotel Booking etc…They are based in China, have direct access to Chinese consumers and search to collaborate with International Agencies when they have Chinese clients.
To conclude, it is quite possible to promote its travel agency by optimizing on a good digital marketing strategy without going through the process of travel agencies.
To read also :
- China’s Outbound Travelers Are Moving On To Change The World Of Tourism In 2016
- Five Reasons Why Chinese Outbound Tourism Will Continue To Grow Even In Times Of Crisis
- Digital Solutions to success in China
- Social Media to attract Chinese travellers
- Luxury Trends in China
Contact us to discuss your project in China, we would be glad to help you achieve it !
- We can adapt to any budget
- You want to know more contact us
- Ask to meet our tourism consultant
- Ask to see our case studies
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