On 8 January 2023, after almost 3 years, China finally opened it’s borders and Chinese people are getting ready to travel again. Many Chinese tourists eager to go back to traveling outside of China already searched for information online, and Asia will be the hottest destination for them, due to it’s proximity and familiarity.
Among Southeast Asian countries, Thailand is one of the most favorite destinations for Chinese travellers. According to the Diplomat, Thai authorities expect the arrival of at least 5 million Chinese visitors, which is almost half of 11.5 million from 2019.
In this blog post, we will guide you on attracting Chinese tourists to your Thai destination and how to promote and sell your services in the Chinese market in 2023.
Chinese market wakes up from a travel coma
The whole world was waiting for this moment, not to count Chinese tourists traveling abroad pre-pandemic, that ended up being trapped in their homeland without any means to travel overseas. China is opening and the whole world, especially Asian countries are preparing to welcome back Chinese tourists, especially in the second quarter of the year.
According to Trip.com, the leading Chinese website for trips booking, outbound flight queries increased 254% in late December, right after the authorities announced the lift of travel restrictions. Many Chinese people also requested for passport renewals, preparing themselves to travel in 2023.
As you can see on the graph from Statista, Chinese tourism spending is predicted to bounce back. Chinese international travelers had been the world’s biggest tourism spenders and Chinese shoppers were spending a lot of money on overseas trips. According to United Nations World Tourism Organization, in 2019 Chinese travelers took 154.6 million trips abroad and spent nearly $255 billion.
It is predicted that Thailand, as before, will be the top choice for many travelers coming from China, and Bangkok is in top 10 cities to visit in 2023 for many Chinese.
What do Chinese tourists like about Thailand?
Thailand remains popular among Chinese tourists, of all ages, due to its relatively low costs. Compared with other destinations Chinese tourists say they prefer Thailand for rest and relaxation, the temples, restaurants, and cultural performances.
More than 80% of Chinese tourists say they love the Thai street food culture. Spas, and shopping centers for Chinese tourists in Thailand mainly consist of duty-free stores and convenience stores, where they mostly purchase local specialty goods, skincare products, and food. Thai massage is also high on the list of reasons Chinese enjoy coming to Thailand.
Thailand was the most popular destination for Chinese travellers in 2019 and it’s predicted to remain one of the leading choices after pandemic, as more Chinese tourists plan to revisit this beautiful country. It has many similarities with Chinese culture, yet it’s the best beach destination.
What works in Thailands favor is also the fact that it is very used to Chinese outbound tourism and Chinese tourists can feel well taken care of there, as all their needs and demands are met.
Inside Thailand, Phuket remains their favorite destination. While traveling to Thailand Chinese tourists enjoy:
- Beautiful scenery
- Different weather conditions in their home country
- Quality services
- Cultural value
- Interesting lifestyles
10 tips on attracting Chinese tourists to your Thai destination
There is many things being said about Chinese tourists but what is important to understand is the fact that they have their own unique ways and tourism culture unseen elsewhere. They expect the best service and they will easily change their accommodation or trip if they are not happy with the service provided.
If you want to attract Chinese tourists and have happy customers that will recommend your services in social media, you need to understand your Chinese audience first.
1. Understand Chinese outbound tourists’ behaviour
Chinese tourists are easily influenced by the opinions of others. When traveling, they refer to their own “review and advice app”, the most popular app of all is Dazhong Dianping. Featuring similar functions to Yelp, it lists retailers, restaurants, bars, cinemas, etc… in China and abroad, so it is the go-to tool for Chinese tourists and travelers. It is very important for Thai tourist businesses to promote their activity on apps like Dazhong Dianping in order to attract Chinese tourists.
- Other Chinese social media platforms include Qunar, Ctrip, Feizhu, Red/Xiaohongshu, Mafengwo
- Video sharing: Tencent video, Iqiyi, Yizhibo, Sohu tv, etc…
Another thing to keep in mind is that your potential Chinese customers changed during the pandemic. Now we see a trend of Chinese tourists choosing rather small groups and independent travels rather than large tour groups that they were known from before pandemic.
What is more, potential customers have different expectations than before, opting for accommodations with environmentally friendly operations and cruelty-free animal reservoirs. Travelers, especially young Chinese, thanks to Chinese social media marketing and influence from the West, are more environmentally conscious and their travel behaviors will also reflect that.
Chinese people are more open for wildlife and nature-focused holidays. They will gladly chose outdoor activities, rent cars or go for arranged road trips, sleep in glamping or smaller bungalows. As they were locked down for long, they get interested in open spaces and nature rather than city-life and shopping.
2. Offer Wechat Pay and Alipay
Any shop, restaurant, bar, or hotel can install WeChat’s QR code payment system, which is a favorite among Chinese customers. By simply scanning the business’s QR code, the customers will be able to pay using their mobile devices, in their own currency. A “WeChat Pay/Alipay” on a business’s door sign will undoubtedly help attract Chinese tourists passing by and differentiate you from your concurrent. Remember to also highlight this payment option on your Chinese website and in social media.
3. Thai tourism professionals should join Chinese social media
To ensure your business is also noticed by individual Chinese travelers, you need to make your name as visible as possible on Chinese social media. Having a listing on Dianping will of course help, but it’s not a ‘catch-all’ solution. For example, activating and feeding official accounts on Weibo, WeChat, or RED and collaborating with Chinese influencers might just be what you need to reach out to your target audience.
Chinese consumers, just like all the other young people in the world right now, take their recommendations from social media. They scroll RED in search for travel inspiration, they check their favorite destinations, they look for perfect photo spots or check where their favorite influencers have been or are planning to travel to. Social media should be they key of your marketing strategy in China.
4. Promote your Thai Destination with Chinese Kols
Chinese influencers are developing faster than in the West, where most Chinese social media stars with more than 2 million real followers have already published books, created a brand, or set up a few online stores.
Chinese Travel Influencer Layla has built up an audience of 4.5 million followers on Weibo. She also published her first travel book in May 2018, speaking about her past travels and the role of women in modern society. Layla is an inspiring role model for young women. So partnering with this type of influencer may be an efficient way to attract Chinese consumers to your business.
Apart from collaborating with an influencer, it’s also worth to invite him/her to your business, so that you get the best promotion in real-time.
5. Attract Chinese Travelers to Thailand with a Wechat official account
Knowing that more than 1.26 billion monthly active users are constantly browsing the app, brands are creating their own Official WeChat accounts to ensure their brand’s voice is heard and recognized on Chinese social media. Brands update their visitors on news and promotions and even create extra benefits such as WeChat membership cards and lucky draws.
WeChat official account allows brands to post newsletters and announcements to their audience, but also start mini-programs that can work as mini guides with top destinations and all important information, like currencies, flights, travel restrictions and more. We highly recommend developing such a program to meet the demand of tech-savvy Chinese consumers.
6. Use Baidu SEO so Chinese tourists can find your services/destination
Having basic information about your business on Chinese search engines is essential. Creating trust and managing your online reputation is a way to assure Chinese tourists will choose you over a competitor. Having a lite version of your website translated into Chinese will also show people that your business welcomes Chinese tourists.
It’s important to host your website in China, so that it ranks high in Baidu, the most popular search engine in China. Your website should have all the important information, booking options, chat box and social media links/qr codes. The more information you put the better.
Apart from the website, it’s also advisable to participate in travel forums, so that your business pops-up in Baidu often, ensuring Chinese people that it’s a trustworthy company.
7. Remember about Chinese holidays
Chinese holidays differ a lot from the main holidays, as they follow lunar calendar, not the Gregorian one. The most popular holiday for Chinese tourists is Chinese New Year, as this is the time when they get the biggest amount of free days, and as it falls in January or February, it’s the best time to visit Thailand.
Another important date to remember is the Golden Week, the second time of the year where all China is in the move. The Golden Week takes place first week of October, as it follows China’s National Day. For many Chinese people these days will be the time when they travel, so you need to prepare for this occasion accordingly.
8. Safety information and Covid restrictions
Chinese people are concerned about safety way more than tourists from other countries. Now the safety is even more important, as Chinese people face a lot of racism due to COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, they will also be confused when it comes to covid restrictions and measurements, as many countries decided on different restrions for Chinese travelers.
This is why it will work in your favor if you list all the restrictions and safety measures and make them clear for all travelers coming from China, both online and offline. Put the information on your website, in social media accounts and also on brochures and posters around your company.
9. Prepare your staff for Chinese travellers
To provide a truly immersive experience for Chinese guests, it’s important to ensure that both existing and new staff are fully equipped to handle any special cultural requests. Taking the additional step of fostering understanding across cultures will not only make your company stand out from its competitors but also help create lasting memories and relationships between your brand and visitors alike!
10. Prepare local guides of your destination having young travellers in mind
As more and more Chinese travelers will chose independent travels, they will look for travel guides of tourist destinations they are willing to visit. Therefore, to stand out of the croud, you can prepare tourist guides of destinations around your business and use them for offline brochures and digital marketing. Posting such content on Chinese social media will bring you visitors that might visit your business or recommend you to their friends and family.
Apart from listing best spots and good restaurants, try to be creative in adapting to the needs of Chinese consumers. You can find the best photo spots, good lunch deals, interesting glamping experiences, wildlife adventures and more. The key is to do a good research of your customers interests, so that you can adapt to their needs.
Contact us to develop the best strategy for your destination in Thailand!
We are a China digital agency based in the hear of Shanghai. We have more than 10 years of experience on the market and we understand Chinese consumers needs and behaviors. We offer digital marketing and e-commerce solutions to small and big brands wanting to reach out to Chinese audience.
We offer many different services, starting from market research, web-design, localisation, social media strategies, KOL marketing and more. It all depends on your brands’ needs, values and budget.
Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us to discuss your options in the Chinese market. We have experience in tourism industry and we can help you bring Chinese travelers to your destination in 2023!