More Chinese people are traveling overseas to enjoy the beauty of the outside world. 2021 is predicted to have more than 200 million Chinese outbound tourists. Thanks to the popularity of the Internet and mobile phones which enable more freedom of information exchange in combination with a growing number of young, sophisticated, and global-minded Chinese consumers, independent traveling has been increasingly common and preferable rather than traditional package tours.
This type of traveling allows people to explore the destinations in their own ways; with their customized schedules, activities, and timelines incorporating their unique preferences, habits and hobbies. Serving this trend, there have been multiple platforms designed to help these free and independent travelers thoroughly plan as well as book their trips in an easy and convenient manner.
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Most popular platforms to plan trips, according to a survey conducted by Chinatouriststar in 2018:
In this article, we would discuss the 2 most popular tourism platforms for Chinese people: Mafengo and Qyer, and how to market your products/ services on these platforms.
Chinese Travel Forums: MaFengWo
MaFengWo is a social-media-travel platform in China where users come to share or read detailed travel guides, reviews, tips, and all kinds of information regarding a destination such as hotels, activities, weather, shopping, places of interest, and more.
Considering that Chinese young people research and plan their trips rigorously in advance, MaFengWo and its rich user-generated content is an important place to do that.
MaFengWo is also an OTA platform where users can book or make a reservation for transportation, hotels, sports, catering, shopping, and leisure, covering over 60,000 destinations around the globe.
Founded in 2006, MaFengWo has helped 120,000,000 travelers monthly and is considered as the “Travel Bible” of the young generation.
- Travel-focused content
User-written travel articles have always been the most distinguishing feature of the website.
You can find information about a destination as well as tips, photos, suggested itineraries, and personal comments provided by other travelers.
These articles are usually incredibly detailed, including pictures and instructions on how to make the most of a trip in the area the article focuses on.
Before users make their final travel decision, they can use travel blogs about potential destinations, and then make their travel decisions based on real-life experiences of other travelers.
MaFengWo boasts to have over one million user-generated travel guides with over six million ratings and reviews, providing travelers with an insider look into hotels, shopping, weather, landmarks, routes, visas, insurance, and more.
- Shopping mall
MaFengWo is also a shop where you can buy travel essentials.
It offers a fascinating range of travel products and services which cover all you can think of for a trip.
From hotel booking to pick-up services from the airport, transportation tickets, visas, sim cards or other travel products, you can get them all from one single website!
Businesses in the tourism industry can contact MaFengWo directly to list their products on the site. This allows businesses to both promote and sell their goods or services to a huge base of the targeted audience who are eager to make their future trips perfect.
- Lively social community via Q&A forum
MaFengWo also features a forum where users can interact with one another, ask for more advice, or look for potential travel partners.
Mafengwo even holds offline social events countrywide for participants on the platform to mingle.
There are many other similar small-sized User-Generated-Content communities in China market but a well-known competitor within the Tourism Community category is Qyer.
QYER, founded in Germany in 2004 and now headquartered in Beijing, was originally a travel community of overseas Chinese sharing their experiences and tips on traveling around Europe.
Over the years, the online community has evolved into a “one-stop outbound travel platform”. Its products now include everything a traveler needs, from a travel community to a big data-based trip planning tool, to an e-commerce platform.
Qyer aims at making overseas traveling more convenient and cost-effective for the Chinese.
Its three main products are:
- An online community:
It is where QYER started in the very beginning and remains a major product in the new QYER ecosystem.
Posts on the online community mainly fall into two parts: articles on traveling to various destinations, and themed articles, such as family trips, dedicated photography trips, and cruises. Different destinations are divided by continent — Asia, Europe, Africa, and so on.
One post can have as many as 500 comments that express gratitude for sharing, encourage the writer to travel and share more, or even ask to travel with the writer.
QYER sees more than 6000 new articles added to it every day by its traveler’s users.
- The trip planning site and app:
Users can spend as little as one minute to get a trip plan, by simply inputting basic factors — cities of departure and return, destinations, length of the trip, and preferences for variables like the mode of transportation and the pace of travel.
- An e-commerce platform:
The platform is designed to facilitate independent overseas travel, offering flight tickets, tickets to scenic spots and other tourist attractions, visa services, and so on.
So far Qyer has attracted 80 million registered users.
Mafengwo.cn puts more effort into domestic traveling, while Qyer mainly focuses on traveling abroad. There is even a viral saying among the users: “Choose Mafengwo in-bound, Qyer out-bound”
How to market your tourism services on these travel platforms?
1. Content marketing
First, acknowledge that the main reason which brings users to MafengWo and Qyer is to plan their trips by reading a lot about places and other people’s experiences.
Therefore, companies should have an account there where they publish official information about their products and services including pricing, reviews, nice photos… as well as a booking function so that when users are ready to make a decision, they can do it instantly and conveniently.
Besides, companies should create numerous blogs and articles which provide in-depth analysis, instruction, and inspiration to help guide users along their purchase journey.
Pay attention to Q&A forums, too. Whenever users have concerns or problems related to their fields, brands should play the role of an expert to help out without too much commercial intention. Over time, your reputation and credibility will be enhanced.
You can also gain direct feedback on your business and better understand your customers through market research on MaFengWo and Qyer.
The knowledge and information provided on MaFengWo and Qyer would have a tremendous influence on where users decide to travel, what activities they should participate in, and what things they need to see. By including your company’s products or services as part of their itinerary or travel suggestions you’ll get a huge amount of exposure.
2. KOL marketing
As a social media platform well-known for its authentic user-generated content, you can’t underestimate the influence of KOLs on the site.
Influencers on Mafengwo get far more reach and viewership than an ordinary user, so cooperating with them can help to influence large amounts of users to participate in certain travel activities.
Brands can give free trials of their products/services for the KOLs on their trips for them to take pictures of or to give reviews.
Let’s take one of the famous KOL Wang Yunyun (王鋆鋆) as an example of how influencers can insert product promotion into their travel blogs on MaFengWo.
The Half-Filipino-Half-Chinese influencer is famous for her amazing travel snapshots with a strong cultural vibe. In her very recent travel blog back to her hometown, she was sponsored by Roaming Man Hotspot for Travel. In her blog she “sincerely” shared her user experience with the product with close-up pictures of it during the trip.
Despite the fact that Wang Yunyun has only 1,933 loyal followers, 2 months after the blog had been published on the site, it had been viewed over 65,000 times and her post has been ranked as one of the most recommended articles.
The secret underlying Mafengwo’s success is the feeling of authenticity. While choosing a giant famous influencer for the campaign might sound ideal, in reality, it’s best for brands to cooperate with micro-influencers to make brand messaging seem more authentic.
While their followers might be less than a famous KOL, nobody said you need to choose only 1 influencer. In fact, micro-influencer campaigns with many small influencers promoting a particular destination or activity can oftentimes be even more effective than working with a large influencer.
3. Manage your e-reputation
The freedom of exchanging information on social media and forums makes e-reputation management critical for brands.
Your users may be complaining about your products and services on MaFengWo and Qyer already which impact negatively the decisions to engage with you of millions of other users.
Therefore, always keep an eye on how people talk about your brand to identify opportunities to improve or elaborate.
I have seen many brands commenting “thank-you” on every positive review they receive and have a thorough explanation and ways to compensate the guests when they have bad experiences with the brand.
For tourism, this is an even more critical and dead-or-alive matter.
Therefore, your e-reputation on MaFengWo and Qyer should be well cared for.
Read also: Marketing to Chinese tourists travelers
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