Effective marketing strategies for China outbound travel this summer

As the main summer holiday period approaches for global marketers, Western brands are thinking about how they can attract China outbound travel to their destinations and services. With 145 million Chinese travellers taking overseas trips in 2017 and spending over $261.1bn in the process, the market is truly rocketing. In fact, China has now exceeded the USA as the world’s most powerful outbound market. In this blog, we will detail the key things to know for success.

Top destinations for Chinese outbound travellers

During July to August, sophisticated Chinese travellers like to take overseas trips and experience new destinations. These highly-informed, digitally-engaged and increasingly affluent travellers head to holiday hotspots that include Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the USA, Canada, the UK and Europe (particularly, Italy and France.)

Things to know about Chinese tourists

The China outbound travel market tends to display a number of characteristics when holidaying in the West:

1. They are short on time and prefer to visit attractions that offer efficiency and experiences, such as parks, historic buildings, museums, food, shopping centres and guided tours. They also like big attractions that they can ‘tick off’, especially if visiting a Western destination for the first time.
2. When visiting Europe, they enjoy arts and culture, the blue skies and smaller cities.
3. They love to spend, especially on shopping (although they may economise on transportation, accommodation and food.)
4. Chinese travellers are increasingly keen to travel in smaller, self-organising groups. They like to experience local cuisine too as part of their trip.

It’s vital to note, however, that the Chinese market is not a single one, and there are significant demographic differences that exist across the country’s regions. A Chinese digital marketing agency can assist with audience segmentation and targeting and offer valuable insights that will help to maximise the success of your digital marketing campaign to Chinese outbound travellers.

Digital Marketing channels

Digital marketing channels are the obvious focal point for a Chinese marketing campaign. For example, Western brands are recommended to:

– Create a localised Chinese language website with local hosting and targeted content. Ensure that you incorporate the appropriate Chinese payment solutions (including mobile payments) and customer services facilities.
– Build your social media presence on WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book, YouKu, and other more specialist platforms that may be appropriate for your offer and audience. Create interesting, informative, fun and shareable content that is targeted to your Chinese audience. (For example, know that Chinese value relationships, so build trust and engagement by inviting them to see you and offer incentives, competitions, special offers/products and gamification to capture their attention.)
– Consider using Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to help launch specific campaigns for potential visitors, as well as to build awareness of your brand.
– Invest in an online marketing campaign which posts to your localised Chinese landing pages.

Branding pointers

Remember to emphasise the heritage, history and quality of your brand – using human interest angles where possible. Chinese buyers love the cachet of Western brands. Equally, try to relate your own brand story to Chinese culture. For example, if you run a historic hotel, relate its rich history to key milestones in Chinese history.

Campaign tips

As well as Chinese digital marketing activities for the China outbound travel market, there are complementary offline activities that can further boost your results.

For example:

1. Develop specific products or services for the China outbound travel market – It’s important that your offer genuinely interests Chinese visitors and meets their unique expectations and cultural needs.
2. Train staff so that they are ready to welcome Chinese visitors – and make sure you have Mandarin speaking staff.
3. Update your signage and other branded materials so that they offer Simplified Chinese information
4. Make it easy for Chinese customers to pay by offering China UnionPay, AliPay and WeChat Pay.
5. Treat your Chinese customers as friends that you hope to see again. Offer them thoughtful touches such as gift-wrapped purchases or greetings cards. Have quality business cards ready too.
6. See if your country’s national tourism board runs a specific welcome campaign for Chinese visitors, and register your business as one that is keen and ready to welcome China outbound travellers. For example, in the UK, there is a GREAT China Welcome Charter operated by Visit Britain. (https://www.visitbritain.org/about-great-china-welcome-charter)
7. Know that Chinese customers expect an excellent level of service, and take all steps to deliver it. This includes competitive prices, punctuality of service, last-minute itinerary changes and flexible terms.

Case studies for success

In America, the Las Vegas Conventions & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has built a well-known social media presence in China, with strong content and engagement on WeChat and Weibo, plus video content on Youku, iQIYI, Miaopai and Tencent video. The authority has worked in partnership with its office in Shanghai to build Chinese outbound tourism to Las Vegas for over ten years, investing in sales missions, familiarisation trips and hosting branded events.

In Canada, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Toronto has hosted high-profile Chinese events (including last year’s Canada-China Cultural Innovation Forum) and Chinese language weekend tours. It offers information sheets for the gallery in Mandarin, as well as private tours and Chinese speaking staff.

In London, the Mayor of London’s own city promotional agency, London & Partners has a Chinese-focused strategy for the UK’s capital, recognising the pace of growth in this market, the promotion that Chinese tourists give and the value of their spend within London (averaging $2,587 per visit.) Chinese travellers visit London for museums, sport and film and predominantly comprise young and well-educated Chinese. The city agency partners with WeChat and Sina Weibo and creates content that focuses on London’s culture and its art and design scene. It has created a Weibo based Virtual City with information about key attractions and opened partner offices in Shanghai and Beijing. It also carries out dry audits at key attractions to ensure that they have Mandarin audio guides, Chinese signage, UnionPay and AliPay payment services, Chinese speaking staff and so forth.

Find out more

At Market Me China, we help western brands from across all industries to market effectively to Chinese customers. If you are ready to attract Chinese tourists to your destination, service business or retail store, we can help you to achieve your goals. Please contact us for a no obligation chat about your needs and to find out more.