Wonder how the Chinese tourists are travelling and spending domestically as international travel is off the menu during Golden Week?
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Sunday that 425 million Chinese hit the road from Thursday to Sunday, the first four days of the eight-day national holiday, a drop from 542 million in the same period last year. Tourism revenue over the period was 312 billion yuan (US$45.9 billion), a drop of 31 per cent.
This isn't 'business as usual' but in my opinion, this is a terrific demonstration of the Chinese willingness to spend on travel given that Singapore Airlines are looking at a loss of over 80 per cent of its traffic (far greater than 31 per cent) for the rest of 2020 and are looking to serve meals on planes and branch out into food delivery. So how can foreign destinations tap on this Golden Week to recover faster and stronger? This is a matter of life-and-death for many destinations as the Chinese are most likely to ease travel curbs first worldwide.
What can you learn from Chinese destinations?
From October 1 to 4, 58608 flights and 6.48 million passengers were transported across the country. The top eight airports with the most inbound and outbound passengers are Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xian, Kunming.
A couple of these cities did a great job in promoting themselves and it is worth taking a closer look at Guangzhou which tops this list to see how to successfully market to the Chinese. Guangzhou chose to highlight around 200 activities focusing on four themes, including cultural tourism, music and art, interactive museum tours, and public entertainment. To make it more attractive to social media savvy Chinese tourists, Guangzhou has designed and launched various over 100 online "social media shareworthy" sites and a similar number of tourist routes.
Partner local brands to maintain share-of-voice
Travel for most folks (including the Chinese) is a low-frequency and high-cost activity. This means that potential travelers will be continuously doing travel research even when borders are closed. By stopping your brand activity in China, you are running a BIG risk of falling behind in share-of-voice behind your competitors who are not running "buy-now" advertising campaigns but partnering local brands to retain trust, stay relevant and provide nuggets of information to travelers while optimizing their limited budget.
The Singapore Tourism Board is a pioneer in this approach as per the screenshot above. They have partnered a local local stationery brand to provide a "scrapbook" of Singapore's attractions during the start of the new Chinese school term at the beginning of October. You can scout for similar partnerships by defining the target audience (parents of school children), when (back to school when search spikes for related terms), and how to stay relevant (find a partner that complements your brand).
- Stay organized when planning activities for Chinese tourists. Hammer out the key themes and plan activities around these themes. Take reference from Guangzhou which came up with a plan that is easy to communicate while providing options that are in line with post-pandemic preferences (not going into that here as this has been covered extensively elsewhere).
- Stay focused on the "big six" markets of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Chongqing which show the right blend of willingness to spend and wanderlust. China is an enormous country while your marketing dollars and time are limited so stay focused when looking for local brand and media partners.
- Without quarantine restrictions being relaxed, maintain your share-of-voice in China while postponing the "buy-now" advertising campaigns which will be greeted with sniggers and zero ROI. Partner local brands to retain trust, stay relevant and provide nuggets of information to travelers.