In 2017, Chinese outbound tourism continued its continued growth pattern as incomes and thirst for new travel experiences grow. In 2017, the China National Tourism Administration reported that Chinese tourists made 131 million trips overseas that year, an increase of 7 percent from 2016. Chinese tourists also spend more per capita than other international tourists: US$762 as opposed to the average of US$486, according to Nielsen’s Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trend: 2017 Survey.
No wonder attractions all over the world are paying more attention to Chinese tourists and seeking to tailor their Chinese marketing plan and provide a better experience on-site. However, many attractions do not go beyond setting up a Wechat and Weibo accounts. To drive awareness, a more integrated tourist experience, and enhanced sales, our team proposes attractions leverage an optimal blend of Chinese digital marketing, e.g. WeChat, Weibo, Baidu search engine marketing and build positive word-of-mouth reviews.
To facilitate a more informed evaluation of the right digital marketing mix for your attraction, this article taps on a data-driven customer journey approach (inspiration, planning, booking, experience, and advocacy) to evaluate the most appropriate channels to reach out to Chinese tourists. Please see a summary below of this customer journey, with key Chinese brands, that we will explore in greater detail later.
Figure 1: Chinese Tourists’ Customer Journey
Recapping Chinese digital channels:
Before we start with our customer journey approach, let’s briefly recap the key Chinese digital channel landscape:
Figure 2: Chinese Digital Channels
Source: Official Press Releases of various platforms
Inspiration & Planning:
Based on latest research, Chinese tourists have a few unique characteristics when planning their travel:
[A] According to 2016 research done by Worldpay carried out in partnership with Opinium, who conducted desktop market analysis and surveyed 12,000 online tourists in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, and the US.
[B] 2017 China National Holiday Travel Trends Report, China Tourism Academy, and Ctrip.
In the Chinese context, planning and booking are often integrated.
Experience & Review:
As mentioned earlier, Chinese tourists are trending towards experiential travel. To keep up with this trend, it is critical to position your destinations, attractions, hotels or restaurants for integrated service delivery:
[C] Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trend: 2017 Survey, 18 Feb 2018, Neilsen.
As you can see, it takes an integrated approach to succeed in digital marketing to Chinese tourists. You need to consider a customer journey approach (inspiration, planning, booking, experience, and advocacy) to match the digital habits of young Chinese tourists to enhance engagement and conversion.
It also requires timely promotion and integration of online and offline experiences, e.g. QR code promotions and training of your frontline service staff, to deliver a better experience to Chinese tourists and build up a positive brand image online as well as generate more UGC (user generated content).
Your team may also wish to evaluate incorporating more familiar Chinese payment channels, e.g. WeChat Pay, UnionPay. Chinese tourists, especially the younger segments, are used to a cashless lifestyle and are likely to spend more when these channels are available.
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