Why China should be your focus for your travel brand in 2024

If you’re a Western travel brand, you may be considering an extension into overseas markets, particularly as the post-Covid world continues to open up to ‘business as usual’ normality. Many successful travel brands are ready to extend their businesses into new markets and are looking towards China for its excellent growth opportunities.

In this blog, we’ll look at why China should be your focus for your travel brand in 2024 and consider some strategies that Western travel brands can take to successfully position themselves in this exciting, lucrative and rapidly evolving market.

Why the Chinese travel market is so attractive

Research suggests that the number of Chinese tourists taking overseas leisure trips grew elevenfold in 2023, compared to 2022. Chinese travellers want to enjoy cultural experiences, shop in luxury Western retail spaces, experience adventure and broaden their horizons. The younger generations in China are particularly keen to enjoy tailored, rich experiences they can share with their friends, often via social media accounts. For Western travel brands, the China market represents a huge opportunity.

The rebound growth in outbound Chinese travel is already being seen in the way that travel brands are upscaling to meet demand. For example, British Airways is doubling its Chinese cabin crew to more than 100 staff this year, with its teams split between Shanghai and Beijing. This is in response to surging demand for high-end leisure experiences from Chinese customers travelling to the UK.

In summary, here are three reasons for Western travel brands to target Chinese travellers:

1. Chinese travellers are affluent, with generous levels of disposable income to spend
2. They are keen for rich, unique, heritage experiences that are tailored and personalised to their needs, offering plenty of opportunities for travel brands to target their offers
3. They are keen to travel widely, to experience unique adventures and to share their positive experiences with friends and family – offering a potential referral market.

Additionally, the Chinese market is vast and offers a huge scope for Western brands to build a successful business!

So what should Western travel brands think about to attract Chinese customers?

When Chinese travellers seek outbound travel opportunities abroad, they do so for a variety of reasons, from cultural enrichment to the chance to shop at luxury Western retail brands. This means that Western brands can delight Chinese customers with thoughtful, personalised and tailored experiences designed to meet their needs.

Here are some steps to position your business effectively for the outbound China travel market.

1. Invest in Research

It’s vital to deeply understand your Chinese target travel market. Chinese tourists can be segmented into a variety of groups according to a variety of demographic data, including age, interests, income and spending patterns. Primary research can help you identify and segment your target markets, building up user personas that allow you to target your marketing strategy. For example, you might want to target Gen X travellers in a certain tier city (with direct flights to your nearest city), and then deliver a social media campaign on the platforms they are most likely to use. Information is everything!

2. Perfect your Offer

As part of your information-gathering process, seek to understand what your target Chinese travel customer wants from their travel experience. Consider whether you can deliver this, and assess your services or products. For example, you might manage a traveller accommodation which meets your target Chinese customer’s desire for local history, authenticity, luxury and rich experiences. Again, by understanding each target group’s needs, you can better position and package your offer to meet them.

3. Focus on Service

Affluent Chinese customers want to enjoy luxuries abroad and the feeling of safety. You can provide this with carefully tailored services, such as Chinese-speaking customer-facing staff, Chinese signage, airport transfers, private tours and so forth. Go above and beyond to delight your Chinese customers, with plenty of tailored pre-travel communication, easy routes for engagement, and immediate access to staff when required. These all go a long way to providing that valuable experience that your Chinese customers will want to recommend to their friends and family.

4. Consider Customisation

Chinese travellers also want the chance to enjoy personalised, tailored travel experiences. Offer opportunities for this whenever you can, whether that’s in the form of a bespoke tour or specially designed gift wrapping and bags for your customers. Offer luxury experiences too, such as guided designer shopping tours, after-hours tours of special attractions, private transfers and luxury spas.

5. Max out your Marketing

Great marketing is the key to finding, engaging and converting Chinese travellers to customers of your brand. This will mean crafting a strong, targeted multi-channel marketing strategy with carefully tailored messaging. A good Chinese travel marketing strategy will blend images, storytelling, video and other means, such as viral marketing, to showcase your destination, travel products or services, and create a sense of excitement and desire. By using elements such as KOLs, Chinese social media channels, Chinese language apps, Baidu advertising and online PR, you can reach your target Chinese audience and showcase your travel brand to the best effect.

6. Get Expert Help

It makes sense to use the services of a Chinese digital marketing agency that can help you craft the right digital marketing strategy to win Chinese customers for your Western travel brand. A Chinese digital marketing agency will have the experience, expertise, localised knowledge and Chinese language skills needed to craft effective, impactful digital marketing strategies that will convert visitors into customers. With this kind of specialist support, you can attain a healthy ROI on your digital marketing budget.

Find out more

Market Me China is here to help your Western travel brand to attract, convert and delight Chinese customers, as this exciting market continues to grow. With huge benefits on offer to Western brands that can win over Chinese travellers, it makes sense to gain this vital support so that you can master the complex digital marketing landscape in China, which is based on an entirely different set of highly sophisticated tools and technologies – all delivered in Chinese!

Our native language-speaking digital marketing professionals are here to help you craft and deliver compelling campaigns that bring real results, and we work flexibly around your business’s needs too. Please contact us in the first instance to find out more.