How to use Ctrip Digital Marketing to attract Chinese outbound tourists

The Chinese outbound tourism market is worth US$288 billion and represents nearly a quarter of the world’s total tourism spend (2018 figures). By 2020, it is expected that Chinese tourists will make a whopping 160 million outbound trips. In this blog, we will look at how Ctrip digital marketing can be used to engage with Chinese outbound tourists as part of an integrated marketing strategy.

Why Chinese outbound tourists are so attractive to Western destinations

There is plenty about the Chinese outbound tourism market that appeals to Western destinations and tourist services. For example:

– China has a population of almost 1.4 billion and its middle classes are growing fast. Chinese outbound trips are growing at a CAGR of 15% according to McKinsey, and this is expected to grow further as incomes continue to rise.
Chinese outbound tourists like to spend more when they travel abroad – on hotels, services, experiences and dining out. The top 10% will spend US $2,225 daily, seeking prestige in the products and services that they buy.
– Chinese outbound tourists particularly love fine dining and city trips – which is good news for Western metropolitan centres.
– Younger Chinese travellers are ready to seek out smaller and less known destinations which are less known for their prestige and more suited for authenticity, independent travel and the experience of local customs (all of which they can then share as engaging content on their social media!)

So how can Western brands use Ctrip to market their destination services to Chinese outbound tourists?

Get your preparation work in place

Before using Ctrip, it pays to have done your leg work. So, make sure you have:

– Defined and narrowed down your target audience (ensuring that your product or service fits their needs, or repurposing / re-presenting it accordingly to do so.)
– Localised your brand and content (including your website) in a way that will appeal to your target Chinese outbound tourists
– Created a Chinese channel strategy, which combines the use of your OTAs with social media and other online channel platforms.

Many Western travel brands will deliver these activities with the support of a Chinese marketing agency for fast, effective results and an excellent ROI. Access to native Chinese marketing expertise also avoids the risk of cross-cultural gaffes, administrative delays or falling foul of the country’s strict content publishing and advertising rules.

What is Ctrip?

With 20 years of successful operation under its belt, Ctrip is the biggest online OTA (Online Travel Agent) in China. Based in Shanghai, Ctrip is responsible for 65% of the online travel industry in China. Ctrip invested in Tuniu & Tongcheng, and is the largest shareholder of eLong & Qunar. It also got investment from Priceline. Baidu holds 25% of Ctrip share. It owns Sky Scanner and is known more familiarly under its brand in the West. (Source: Ctrip)

Travellers can use the platform to book flights, hotels, travel services, entertainment and more. There is a vast travel journal section filled with inspiration and KOL content, and users can share their own journals and trip moments. Business travel services are also provided for over 5,000 multinationals. (Source: Ctrip)

Who uses Ctrip?

In 2019, around seven million Chinese tourists booked outbound trips using Ctrip for Chinese New Year alone. It has 20 million daily active users, 70% of which earn 12,000 RMB or more a month. It’s particularly popular amongst the trendy, young and aspirational middle-classes aged from 20-45, most of whom are keen to move away from the group tours of old and to organise their own travel experiences, booking flights, accommodation, restaurants and services separately and independently. (Source: Ctrip)

Ctrip insights of Chinese outbound tourism

In 2018, the total number of Chinese outbound tourists reached 15 million, increasing by 15 %, compared with 2017. In contrast to group tours, 70% of users are FITs (Free Independent Travellers) who will book travel products separately and combine them according to personal interests, so as to maximise flexibility.(Source: Ctrip)

The top 20 countries in 2018 included Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea and Indonesia, by volume. Every one out of five Chinese outbound tourists booked on Ctrip.(Source: Ctrip)

How can Western destination brands use Ctrip digital marketing?

For Western destination and tourist brands looking to appeal to Chinese outbound tourists, Ctrip digital marketing is essential. The platform invests heavily in its big data, AI and cloud deployment offer valuable and heavily informed marketing services. It uses its big data capabilities to record minutely detailed analytics about user preferences and behaviours, generating insights which can greatly assist with targeted, effective customised marketing campaigns. These include tightly targeted push adverts for customers and tools which allow business users to predict key user periods and service purchase drivers.

Types of advertising available on Ctrip

There are various features on offer in the ‘one-stop-shop’ which offer value to Western destination brands – from hotels and restaurants through to retail outlets and tourist services. The most obvious, of course, is the range of advertising options provided. Ads are placed to touch users in every stage of their travel – from pre-trip research through to post-trip evaluation. Different ad types are offered accordingly – such as:

1. Retargeting Banner Display

Retargeting adverts are targeted precisely according to buying behaviour on the platform, for the best possible results.

2. Hero Apps

Ctrip affiliates with Hero apps to drive potential customers through multiple channels. For example, the advertiser can request the targeting of Chinese outbound tourists who travelled to Thailand more than once in a certain year and stayed at a 5* hotel.

3. Brand Placements

These place your brand in front of target customers at the search stage, providing a natural point of influence to buyers which remains relevant and welcome. (Remember, Chinese customers are not averse to online advertising in the way that many Western customers are, and they view it as a source of information to help their decision making.)

4. Trip Moments

Ctrip has its own integrated platform within Ctrip APP which is like Instagram and which boasts an incredible 1.5 million posts that span 16,000 destinations. This offers the opportunity for branded content and integration with multi placements, such as Discover/City page native feeds placement, keyword searching placement, and product placement in post.

Other types of advertising also exist in Ctrip, such as joint promotion, advertising within is VIP club and official Ctrip WeChat and Weibo accounts.

Need help to get started with Ctrip Digital Marketing campaign?

To see the right results from your Ctrip Digital Marketing campaign, you must expertly leverage the platform’s rich analytics and select the right kind of advertising for your brand, audience and offer.

A Chinese marketing agency can fast-track your success in the Chinese online marketing field, supporting everything from your Ctrip campaign set-up (which is done in Chinese) to your post-campaign analytics. At Market Me China, our native Chinese marketing experts can create impactful integrated marketing campaigns which make the most of Ctrip digital marketing capabilities, and maximise leads to your tourism business. We are knowledgeable, flexible, friendly and helpful – acting as a natural extension to your own team to provide the skilled support that you need for Chinese digital marketing success.

Ready to find out more?

Contact us today for a no-obligation chat about your Western travel brand’s needs and the ways in which we can help you.

(Image source: Ctrip)