Chinese tourism overview

China has the world’s largest pool of tourists and in the past decade, Chinese tourism has seen outstanding growth. Now more than ever, Chinese people are traveling and spending more on travel and their destination.

In 2016 the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) forecasted that by 2020, Chinese outbound trips would total 150 million per year.

Most Chinese tourists mainly come from :

  1. Shanghai
  2. Beijing
  3. Guangzhou
  4. Chengdu
  5. Chongqing
  6. Nanjing
  7. Kunming
  8. Wuhan
  9. Xian
  10. Hangzhou

In recent years, changes in Chinese travelers’ behavior have also been noted. They are adopting more “Western” travel habits. They want not only to see famous places and go shopping but also to engage in an in-depth experience of the local lifestyle and culture.

What Influence a Chinese Tourist Choice of Destination?

52% of Chinese tourists use internet in order to organize their trip aborad and the choice of a destination depends on several factors :

  • Tourist attractions
  • Local cuisine
  • Air quality and access to nature
  • Availability of convenient mobile payment options like Alipay and Wechat Pay
  • Reputation, online reviews by other Chinese tourists
  • Promotions that overlap Chinese holiday times
  • Availability of Chinese speaking staff and Chinese signage

The favorite European destinations are :

  1. Russia
  2. Italy
  3. France
  4. England
  5. Germany
  6. Spain
  7. Greece
  8. Czech Republic
  9. Switzerland
  10. Portugal

 

A deeper understanding of modern Chinese Tourists

Millenials: Independent Travelers

Chinese millennials, between 20 and 39 years old, make up 31% of China’s total population.

While other travel groups pay greater attention to climate and prices, millennials are ready to pay more and go farther in order to experience unique cultures, cuisines, and greater shopping options.

This group is also more spontaneous and makes the largest number of last-minute bookings. Usually, their trips are inspired and encouraged by KOls on platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu.

The new middle Class: Authentic Travel experience

Chinese middle-class travelers are characterized by the attempt to imitate the middle-class lifestyle they observe in other cultures. They want to experience the daily lives of people in the countries that they visit and have adventures. They also like to visit historical and heritage sites as a part of a process od reflecting on their own cultural way of living.

Families Tourism

Families think more about better services for parents, they also try to experience everything as an investment in the education of their children. Usually they travel during the Chinese New Year so it is interesting for companies to promote during this period.

Seniors Travelers: Group Tours is still popular

Seniors have a strong desire to explore, but are socially conservative and doubtful, which is why they travel in groups. For linguistic and cultural problems, they rely on organized but small tourist groups to allow them to see local life and have a little freedom.

Luxury Travelers: High Expectation

As a consumer group, they expect more personalized and tech-enabled services during their stay.

GROUP TRAVELERS: Not only for the seniors

Usually, Chinese travelers moved in guided groups, but now they are becoming increasingly independent, especially the millenians. Semi-independent groups or private family and friends tours have also developed for reasons of freedom, convenience and comfort.

How to attract Chinese tourists?

How a brand can attract Chinese tourists? What promotion channels to use? How to do it especially in the period of crisis due to covid19 (you want to be ready for the crisis ends!)?

These are some of the most common questions asked during this period, so let’s go deeper into the various issues.

As has been said previously, in addition to cultural monuments, local cuisine and visa procedures, what tourists base on choosing a destination are :

  • The availability of online payments such as Wechat pay and Alipay
  • Online reputations from other Chinese tourists
  • Promotions during Chinese holidays
  • Invest in staff who speak and write Chinese in order to have conversations on clarifications or questions without any misunderstanding given the different Chinese culture and language.

All of this is essential to attract Chinese tourists. So what a company should focus on to better promote its brand are all these factors that determine success.

An important factor in choosing the destination and places to visit depend 51% on films and TV series and 52% on videos on social media. This is why live streaming on Chinese platforms is very important.

Digital marketing platforms to attract tourist

To attract tourists, companies must focus on growing their brand and brand awareness, especially in this period of crisis due to Covid-19. How to do this online?

Here there are some steps to follow :

Branding is key in China

Marketing is fundamental to promote products or services, and to create credibility

Try to make your company visible to tourists, create different strategies according to tourists, and what interests your target based on what has been said above.

For example, the new middle class wants to experience the daily lives of people in the countries that they visit and have adventures. They also like to visit historical and heritage sites as a part of a process of reflecting on their own cultural way of living.

Therefore you, as a company, have to promote your brand based on your target Chinese travelers, on what they like to visit, on what they want to do. Try to think as they would think.

The choice of social media platforms and e-commerce platforms also depends on your target consumer.

Focus on social media platforms to promote your brand’s value and products

Xiaohongshu: Collaborate with Kols and get Great review for your Destination

kol-xiaohongshu-hawaii

The Little Red Book app, known locally as Xiaohongshu, is an app intended for women between the ages of 18 and 35 to share shopping tips and product reviews. In 2014, the platform launched its cross-border e-commerce platform called RED store in response to the high demand for foreign luxury goods.

This app allows Chinese consumers to purchase products from abroad directly from the app. RED has many partnerships with international brands, which makes it much easier for customers to receive authentic experiences.

This is the best platform to influence travel and shopping experiences by sharing them with other people.

WeChat to Market a destination

Wechat-brochure-tourism

WeChat has grown to become the most popular social and mobile app in China where it has over 1.1 billion registered accounts.  This social media platform allows users to send text and voice messages to each other as well as play video games, watch videos, shop and pay via mobile payments.

WeChat  mini-programs that essentially operate like a separate mobile app, except that they function within WeChat. WeChat offers a completely seamless, mobile-first consumer experience where brands can increase awareness and loyalty.

Weibo: Get Visibility with Buzz Marketing

Sina Weibo (新浪微博) is a Chinese microblogging website similar to Twitter. Launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009, it is one of the biggest social media platforms in China, with over 445 million monthly active users.

It is where celebrities, brands share their thoughts and feelings, it is the best source of news and gossip.

People post something and others can comment or repost. The posts include images, texts, articles, videos via Miaopai, live streaming via Yizhibo and external links on e-commerce platforms to buy products such as Taobao and Jumei.

In April 2020, Weibo has also decided to dive into the world of social commerce and launched its Weibo Store. The Weibo window gives you the function of direct sales through the collaboration of e-commerce sites such as Taobao and Tmall through links. This could be a huge opportunity for brands.

Use digital video and live streaming channels to attract tourist

The outbreak of the coronavirus has pushed the tourism industry to pause, but live streaming has brought more possibilities for tourism businesses and platforms.

Fliggy officially launched  “the house travel plan” with nearly a thousand tourism businesses and KOL’s from more than 30 countries and regions.

They will continue to bring users with more than 100 global live streaming activities every day. On Feb 23, nine well-known museums in China, including the China national museum and Sanxingdui museum, will also log on to  Taobao live streaming, allowing users to visit museums online.

Chinese tourists are influenced a lot by video and live streaming on social media. That’s why live streaming on Chinese platforms is very important to create brand awareness.

The best video streaming platforms are:

Youku

In 2012, Youku merged with Tudou to form the giant online video platform Youku Tudou. The platform is one that, in 2018, reported its user base at 580 million unique monthly visitors and successfully bid for ownership to streaming rights for the FIFA World Cup. Three years before that, it was acquired for $4.8 billion USD by China’s most important and dominant tech and e-commerce company: Alibaba.

Youku Tudou is often referred to as the YouTube of China. One visit to its homepage and it is obvious why. But while YouTube is the mecca of user-generated content, Youku functions analogously closer to Hulu or Netflix. The phrase “online video platform” may be an appropriate catch-all term, but Youku is more precisely an internet television company. It pays for and produces content and earns money through a monthly subscription service.

YiQiyi

Owned by Chinese tech giant Baidu, iQiyi is another important video platform that claims nearly half-a-billion users and over 5.5 billion hours of content streamed each month. Much like how JD and Alibaba compete at the top of China’s e-commerce landscape, iQiyi is in a battle against its top rival, Youku- on top of other popular services offered by Tencent and Sohu.

iQiyi makes its distinct mark in a few high-profile ways. First, it partnered with Netflix in 2016 to stream exclusive Netflix content in China (though that agreement has since expired). Second, it also acquired the popular South Korean show My Love From the Star. That show is such a hit that it has been streamed on iQiyi over 14.5 billion times since December 2013.

Taobao Live

Alibaba, like other major Chinese companies, understands the massive commercial and e-commerce opportunities associated with live-streaming and has made Taobao Live a focal point of their strategy for years. As a result, the platform is Alibaba’s live-streaming arm that has not only helped with the rise of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs)— many of whom earn millions of dollars by partnering with companies to highlight their products in videos— but it also expects the Taobao Live to generate over 500 billion sales transactions over the next three years.

If recent history helps to gauge the future, 500 billion sales transactions seem well within reach. Taobao Live is by far the most popular platform for live streaming: 79 percent of all e-commerce live-streaming transactions in China occurred on its platform. On 11/11 Singles Day 2018 alone, Chinese KOL Viya helped generate RMB 330 million during a Taobao live stream. More recently, almost 10 million people watched her Livestream from Auckland, New Zealand, and spent nearly $NZD 30 million.

Tencent video

The biggest Chinese online video platform by daily average users (DAU) is Tencent Video—by a significant margin. In 2018, it averaged nearly 33 percent more daily users than second-place iQiyi and almost 70 percent more than third-place Youku. The company also announced in 2018 that it had reached nearly 89 million paying subscribers.

Tencent Video promotes and produces its own content for 89 million subscribers to consume. Chinese television lovers might be familiar with popular and highly rated TV Dramas like Nothing Gold Can Stay or Candle in the Tomb, both of which garner praise from critics and viewers alike. And Westerners will be familiar with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary Blue Planet— the UK’s most-watched TV programme of 2017— which Tencent Video co-produced.

Douyin

Though paling in comparison to Taobao Live when it comes to e-commerce live-streaming transactions, Douyin is a platform that any business looking to make inroads in China must be cognizant of. The short-video streaming platform is China’s counterpart to TikTok, of which pop-culture inclined Westerners are becoming steadily more aware. While TikTok and Douyin are the same in some fundamental respects, the commercial facet of the latter app is much more developed.

Douyin daily users—numbering in hundreds of millions—can do much more than view short videos. Purchasing a featured product, booking a hotel, and becoming a KOL are all possible through Douyin’s platform. Though, as a percentage of overall e-commerce live-streaming transactions, Douyin is a distant second to Taobao Live, brands would be wise to take note, lest they miss out on perhaps the next biggest thing in Chinese e-commerce.

Kuaishou

Tecent’s live-streaming platform is the second biggest player in the short-video market—one that counts more than 820 million monthly active users—Kuaishou is nothing to scoff at. Kuaishou also targets a different kind of user and features a different kind of product than its short-video competitor Douyin.

Kuaishou tends to target users from lower-tier cities and small towns. This should excite businesses looking to capitalize on this user base, given that lesser-known provinces like Shaanxi, Hubei, Fujian and Yunnan saw 10 percent growth in consumer goods sales, as opposed to 7.9 percent in Shanghai and just 2.7 percent in Beijing. Many Chinese e-commerce experts predict that it’s in these regions and cities where consumer growth will continue to be strong, as WPIC’s Jacob Cooke did in a recent TV interview on Bloomberg.

China’s leading e-commerce and online video platforms, as well as the digital marketing opportunities they present, can be challenging to navigate without the right tools and knowledge.

KOLs collaboration

KOLs (Key opinion leaders) are one of the best ways used to promote in China as they reach a wide audience.

Chinese consumers tend to trust information delivered by people much more than the one promoted via traditional channels, therefore this could be a good choice for a company which want to promote its company in Chinese market.

KOLs could be celebrities, influential bloggers, intellectuals. The choice of the key opinion leader depends on the type of product you offer, for example if you sell in fashion, celebrities may be the right choice, but not only, even an expert of that product could be a good choice.

The use of KOLs on live streaming is a very successful strategy to promote your brand.

Promotion and availability of online payments by using Alipay or Wechat pay on tourism e-commerce platforms

On these platforms you can publish travel guides, interact with consumers and promote your brand.

Mafengwo

MaFengWo (马蜂窝) is similar to TripAdvisor, it is considered the “travel bible” by younger Chinese netizens, providing long-form tourism-focused content to help users with their travel plans. Founded in 2006, it has evolved its way to become the ultimate social-media-travel platform in China with a user base of over 100 million users.

Ctrip.com

This app has achieved a leading position with regard to hotel reservations, travel tickets, tour packages and corporate travel management, and other services related to China.

Since launching in 1999, Ctrip has experienced unstoppable growth, becoming the largest travel platform among Chinese travelers.

Even in economic terms, the trend is more than positive. The Ctrip app is estimated to have generated over 350 billion Yuan in the value of services offered.

Fliggy

Alitrip, also named Fliggy, is one of China’s major online travel booking platforms and is part of the Alibaba group. It provides direct access between costumers and airlines, hotels, railway operators, and more.

Qunar another Chinese OTA

Qunar is China’s top travel-related search engine and travel information platform. It helps consumers find and compare value and experiences for flights, hotels, packages, and other travel services.

qunar app register on chinese OTA

Tuniu

It is an online leisure travel company in China that offers a large selection of packaged tours, as well as travel-related services for leisure travelers.

 

The Chinese case study on using live streaming to attract Chinese tourists

To help accelerate the recovery of business and production following the COVID-19 epidemic, before the Labor Day holidays, the Moganshan district in Deqing County provided a series of special offers for family stays through the Livestream to attract tourists who were captured in seconds.

It was a successful attempt by Shen Chanying and his companions, who recently have done live streaming on Taobao Live, the Livestream unit of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Their efforts were to show the cozy family houses and local specialties in Moganshan, a city known for its mountain tourist site of the same name. They also expected to introduce Moganshan’s green and slow-pace lifestyle to urban people via live streaming.

The tourism industry, a pillar of Moganshan’s economic structure, has suffered hefty losses as a result of the outbreak, while local agricultural products, such as tea, aquatic products, and fruit, have been hard to sell.

Livestreaming has succeeded in boosting online sales, and also increase the influence of the town.

Thanks to these efforts, Moganshan’s tourism industry is recovering steadily.

Do you want to know more about How to attract Chinese tourists? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

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