If you are looking at this article, then it is no secret for you that Chinese outbound tourism is an incredible opportunity for your business. You’ve probably tried to contact Chinese tour operators, maybe you even tried to promote your services to Chinese travelers but with no success so far. Don’t worry, that is normal, China tourism is a very specific market with its own internet, marketing tools, and consumer habits. So let’s deep dive into it and see how you can reach out to Chinese tourists!
Chinese tourists love to travel in groups
The number of Chinese tourists has exploded in the past few years and is willing to increase more and more. We could count almost 150 million Chinese who traveled overseas in 2018.
In their way of traveling, the Chinese tourists love to travel in groups: they like to have everything taken in charge and organized, this is why tour guides are very important.
Chinese tourists, also prefer to interact with Chinese, so you have to find Chinese partners if you want to reach them. They will trust you more and think this is more convenient
Therefore, as a tourism company, it would be profitable and strategic to make a partnership with these guides. Chinese partners are hard to find and hard to deal with if you don’t know how to do it. So here is how you can find a good Chinese tour partner as a tourism foreign company.
How to find a Chinese tour partner?
As you may imagine, there are very specific ways to find a Chinese tour partner, as the tools and platforms available in China are very different from the one you may use already. There are different ways to approach them, such as:
Unlock Keytool for Chinese travelers with Wechat
The first one is Wechat, which is the most commonly used social media in China, used for both professional and personal use, in almost any type of business and relationship. Chinese tour guides must have a Wechat account, in order to communicate with their customers and their partners. Most of the time, they have an Official Account (Service Account or Subscription account), where they post their offers, their updates and keep contact with their customers and partners.
Having a wechat account is not even an option if you want to work in China: you have to have one. The platform offers many tools which will be useful for your business, such as:
- WechatPay, which will allow the customers to pay directly on the app for your services
- Group Chats, to centralize information and contact your customers and suppliers
- Ads, to promote your services
- Official Account, to centralize all information, share the latest news and updates, and also a way for the customers to contact you. When they follow your official account, you can send them H5 brochures which are similar to newsletters. It is a great tool to have information on your customers and to keep them connected to your business.
- Channels, a new feature of the app, which is to share short videos and can be used to promote your services with KOLs or with your official account.
Of course, we can help you to manage all these tools which are a key to enter the Chinese market, feel free to contact us for more insights.
Promote your Tourism services on Baidu
It’s on Baidu that you will find their website and more information about them. Baidu is the number one browser in China, so it is the best place to have your website referenced, both for you and for the Chinese tour guide.
Baidu is basically the same as Google or any type of browser, so it is where Chinese customers and suppliers will be able to find your website. Since it is the same as Google, it means that the mechanism and the strategy are similar: it is all about SEO, keywords, and traffic to have your website well ranked and appearing on the top of the list of the results.
Your website has to be in Chinese since you are targeting Chinese customers and you also have to make sure it is not with Google plugin because otherwise, they will not be able to access it. Above all, your website has to be design according to the Chinese standards, which are not the same as the western ones. If you need more precision, we can help you with this, to optimize your targeting strategy.
Of course, your website has to be connected to your Wechat official account, so customers and suppliers can easily switch from one to the other, if they need to contact you or if they need more detailed information.
Use Tourism Forums such as Mafengwo
This platform is considered as the Chinese Tripadvisor, this is where individuals and KOLs share feedbacks and give reviews on their experience, as it is very important for Chinese customers. It is also possible to book tours and tickets on the platform so you can easily find partners there and making your choice by checking their ratings.
Therefore, this platform can be very good for you to check the trends, see what the Chinese like, and get to know their needs, and wants better. You can find potential partners on the platform and you can also see how Chinese appreciate your services once you are settled. It is very important because Chinese customers will rely more on feedbacks on a community platform like Mafengwo, rather than the one on your website.
Trust is the Base when it comes to China outbound tourism
Feedbacks & reviews
In China, there is a strong culture of rating, reviews, and feedback. The Chinese customer will rely a lot on this information to make their decision to buy or not a ticket or a product, so they will be even more willing to give their feedback on their experience afterward.
Therefore, once you found a list of Chinese tour potential partners, you can easily check their ratings on the various platforms mentioned earlier, and the more feedbacks it has, the better it should.
Also, collaborating with a good rated Chinese partner will attract many customers to you, so it is very important to also be rated well, otherwise they will not accept to collaborate with you.
The Chine company should be able to provide you a license and document issued by the authority to prove to you that it is a legal business. You can also check if the company has some accreditations such as the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), which is the world’s largest association of travel professionals, or the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) which is the major accreditation and authority on this region.
There is also the CNTO (China National Tourism Administration) which is mainly for the tours in mainland China for foreigners.
However, it can be very easy to have fake licenses and accreditations so make sure to check their accreditation number, having the logo displayed on the website is not enough.
Obviously, the most common issue would be to get scammed by your partner but you can easily check if your potential partner is going to be reliable or not, by checking the reviews (issues of non-respect of the planning, delays of payments, lack of quality…). Besides this, as a foreign company, you might struggle to interact with the Chinese tour guide for many reasons:
- barrier of language
- culture difference
- different communication tools
In that sense, it is better to be able to speak Chinese in order to avoid any misunderstanding, and also you have to know the Chinese culture in order to satisfy the clients as much as possible. Indeed, tours and taking pictures of famous places are the main focus of the travel experience for Chinese, while for Western it would be more about providing a unique experience off-road. There is no problem for Chinese travelers to have the exact same experience as thousands of people, as long as it is at least as good as expected.
How to contact Chinese tour operator & should you?
As mentioned earlier, you can contact them through the Chinese platforms mentioned earlier (Wechat, Baidu, Mafengwo,…) and it can be even better if you do so in the Chinese language because you are never sure if they speak English and it will always be easier for them to deal with you in Chinese.
You have to fit the Chinese culture: reviews are extremely important, and your product or service does not necessarily have to be unique in its category, it has to be good and well-rated. Since taking pictures is very important in their journey, you have to make sure that what you are selling will be good on camera (good looking food, attracting activity,…), and it is very important for the Chinese customers to be able to picture themselves in what you are offering.
Also, be good at pricing. Chinese customers often spend a lot of money when they travel but they do not want to over-pay either. Indeed, if your product is the cheapest, they will not buy it because they will perceive it as bad quality. However, if you are the most expensive one, they have to know the reason and have to be seduced by it to purchase. Most of the time, the would prefer to choose the average price so they know that they are not getting scammed by overpaying, as much as they will have a good quality service because they put more money than on the cheapest service.
So how to find a good Chinese tour partner?
To sum up, your Chinese partner has to speak Chinese in order to communicate with the travelers, as much as it is better for you to speak Chinese to communicate with him. You can easily find them on the Chinese platforms (Wechat, Baidu, Forums, …) and to make your decision, rely on
- feedbacks, ratings, and reviews
- the legal aspect of the guide
- accreditations & labels
Here you will find an existing list of Chinese tour companies that you can rely on
For more insights, you can check the following articles
And if you need any help to make a great partnership with a Chinese tour guide, GMA (Gentlemen Marketing Agency) is here for you. We are a marketing company since we are already helping more than 300 tourism players to communicate in the Chinese market, we could advise you with our expertise.