5 fun and creative ways to market your travel brand in China

If you’re serious about building your travel brand overseas, the vast Chinese market is an obvious target, with plenty of sophisticated Chinese customers looking to explore overseas destinations. However, the lucrative China travel market is also heavily saturated with competition. To gain a foothold, your Western travel brand must work hard and be strategic! With this in mind, here are five fun and creative ways to market your travel brand in China.

1. Use Beautiful Imagery

Chinese customers love social media and brands can use beautiful imagery to engage potential travellers. Consider launching a storytelling campaign that uses editorial-worthy imagery to market your destination or travel service in the most appealing way. You could work with a known photographer to place their unique artistic slant on the images, or even host a competition that asks travellers to share their favourite photo of your destination. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, so invest in the imagery that evokes the emotion, beauty and desirability of your offer!

You can take imagery to the next level by creating videos as well. Create a story or film that revolves around your destination or service. It could be a traditional love story, a funny and heartwarming story about a family holiday, or something adventurous. Evoke emotions to excite potential travellers and connect these feelings to your brand.

2. Gamify your marketing offer

Chinese customers love games, particularly digital games that they can play on their phones. So consider devising your own travel-based game and invest in something fun and shareable. It could be a digital maze, for example, that players navigate on their own travel journey, or a game to guess the contents of a suitcase! Make it engaging, add a prize that links to your offer, and share it widely. Add a leaderboard so your competitive players can replay to up their scores, and request their data for further marketing in return.

3. Work with the right KOL

Chinese tourists use platforms such as Baidu, WeChat, DouYin, Little Red Book and Weibo to research potential travel destinations and find information. Consider working with a relevant KOL for your target market, and create a partnership with them to make tailored video travel guides. This type of influencer content can really bring your offer to life, by using their own skills and talents to add a positive twist to your messages and market your travel offer in a way that will naturally appeal to your target market. You could create a series of little micro guide videos with a fun slant and top travel tips, for example, and live-steam these online as a ‘ticketed event’, with the ability to chat with customer services representatives and book your offer directly online as part of the event. When combined with direct and immediate calls to action, the engagement of live streaming can be incredibly powerful in China.

4. Collaborate with aligned brands

Why not consider building partnerships with brands that align with your own offer, to bundle up a package deal? For example, if you market a hotel in a Western destination, why not partner with local restaurants, visitor destinations and transport companies? Work together to create a tailored package that offers reciprocal deals and special packages to your Chinese market. Chinese customers love personalisation so you could devise a special programme that includes Chinese language-speaking guides, special tasting menus, private tours and so forth. Show how much you value your Chinese customers by going the extra mile to delight them!

5. Use Giveaways

Chinese tourists love giveaways, and you can use creativity to offer quirky little freebies that add value, in response to data collection and permission for further direct marketing. Remember that Chinese customers are increasingly concerned with sustainability, so some good examples of relevant giveaways could be:

  • An eco-friendly bamboo travel brush, or recyclable disposable cleansing wipes to freshen up after a long flight
  • Some restorative teabags, presented in cute packaging with a story about the destination
  • A free cocktail upon booking your meal, free gift wrap upon buying a product in a local store, etc.
  • You could also offer digital giveaways, such as a special travel filter or shareable stickers based on your destination offer, for sharing those all-important vacation snaps!

6. Bonus idea – Promote Safety

Chinese customers are keen to know they will be safe when they travel abroad. Parents also want to know that their children will be supported when they spread their wings and travel overseas alone. So consider creating a branded app that offers safety resources. These could include direct links to your customer services function for contact upon arrival, travel and health tips, useful numbers, and ‘what to do’ guides so that travellers feel prepared for every eventuality. This is an example of how travel brands can go beyond basic promotion and get to the heart of what travellers need to enjoy overseas destinations in comfort.

Other quick ideas for your next Chinese travel marketing campaign:

  • Ask Chinese customers to share their funniest travel story or photo, with a prize for the best submission.
  • Consider building an online community for travellers to your destination, where users share their top recommendations for local restaurants, tourist destinations and services, in return for building loyalty points.
  • Partner with local destination guides and travel brands to offer a competition, such as a free stay at your hotel.
  • Tell the story of the people behind the destination. For example, if you market a spa hotel, tell the story of the employees who work there and the passion that they have for offering the best possible experiences, so Chinese travellers feel welcomed and valued even before they arrive. You could share a greeting from the manager or a reminder from the driver that your customer’s airport transfer is ready and waiting for their arrival!
  • Put faces to names and personalise your brand to humanize it and build engagement and warmth.
  • Send out personalised ‘invites’ for a new offer at your destination or travel service, with beautiful design, and a tailored message, to show how much you value your customers. This could work particularly well for a repeat booking.

Get expert Help

Market Me China is here to help your Western travel brand create powerful marketing campaigns to attract, engage and convert your Chinese target market. Whatever stage you are at on your marketing journey, our team of native-speaking digital marketing professionals is here to get you results! Please contact us to find out more.