This article is meant as a follow-up to an earlier piece that our team wrote last year. Marketing to Chinese tourists requires continuous adjustments as tastes and technology shift so it is timely to update our customer journey approach with best practices from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) who have attracted 3.4 million Chinese tourists in 2018. These guys must be doing something right in terms of 360 marketing!
Diving into the STB's playbook, we will start some big picture trends, then move on to STB's target groups of tourists. This will help businesses better position themselves and get a bigger bang for their marketing bucks.
You may have noticed that there are a few interesting groups highlighted in the above strategy:
(1) Tier 2 cities: Tier 1 cities tend to have more air routes, so it is harder to persuade tourists to choose Singapore. It probably makes perfect economic sense for your business as well. To see the geographical spread of Tier 2 cities, you may check out this beautifully crafted list compiled by the South China Morning Post.
(3) Post-90s generation: 39% of outbound travel, and most likely to be FIT! And they love video content - more on that later.
What next for other hospitality businesses?
The infographic above outlines how STB plans to engage Chinese tourists from digital touchpoints all the way to offline ones such as the airport and Sentosa (Singapore's best-known attraction). Let's start with the offline touchpoints:
- STB are targeting tourists who are already in the country since the airport is included as a touchpoint. More to the point, such tourists are more likely to convert and spend money.
- So how do offline businesses target tourists who are already in the country? Let's start with the basics:
- A Chinese website: Because you need to attract tourists to your website before they can convert at your brick-and-mortar store. Plus you can control your own content without worrying about the whims of third-parties. We know machine translation is bad, so who can you hire? Assuming you can read a little Chinese, Baidu's professional translation services are a good option starting at CNY120 per thousand English to Chinese words.
- Understand common itineraries: Let's assume your business is targeting FIT traffic, through some detective work at the Chinese OTA websites such as Ctrip and Tuniu, you will be able to figure out their common itineraries and shortlist keywords that will help you with more targeted marketing on your website.
- Get your business to the eye-level of tourists: The highest ROI activity is to start with a free Dianping account (Chinese equivalent of Yelp and Groupon) to update details related to your business, such as your address and products or services. Although an official WeChat account is helpful, it is NOT going to drive tourists to your business unless you invest significant time, energy and money on quality, original Chinese content.
- Develop a good experience: As you can see for Wildlife Reserves Singapore below, they have developed Chinese digital touchpoints while supplementing it with Chinese programs. Of course, not every business is different but it is worth thinking about how your business can key personas such as young families and post-90s tourists traveling with their friends. In terms of WeChat and Alipay, these are options you can explore AFTER developing Chinese programs.
Bringing it all together to provide a better experience
As you can see, it takes an integrated approach to successfully market to Chinese tourists. You need to consider a customer journey approach (inspiration, planning, booking, experience, and advocacy) to match the digital habits of key personas to enhance engagement and conversion. Once your business has engaged Chinese tourists, you can look forward to conversion as well as positive digital word-of-mouth as experiential travel is becoming more important worldwide!
Our team specializes in value-driven digital & content marketing for your business. With expertise in end-to-end Chinese digital marketing (Baidu SEO, WeChat and Dianping marketing), we can help you to adopt a more customer-centric approach to reach your target segment. If you are keen to get started, please check out our website and get in touch!