There are more than 630 million Internet users in China now, and most of them are on the Social Media. They are used to share information, but they are mostly used to chat with friends: indeed every Social Media have a chat feature. These Social Medias are heavily used during trips. Here are the Social Medias on mobile in the tourism field in China.
We can consider WeChat as the best messaging app in china. It’s used by more than 460 millions of people. It was developed by Tencent in 2011, and is now used more than texts messages in China. WeChat is valued at 60 billion $. The app is now present in 30 countries and is translated in 20 languages. In 2014, WeChat was used by 39% of the adult internet population in Asian countries and 23% by the rest of the World. It’s ahead of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that were still released before WeChat. 85% of mobile Internet users use WeChat. WeChat is mostly used by people from 18 to 25 years old (45.4%) and then by the 26 to 35 years old (40.8%)(CNTA).
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WeChat allows to send texts messages, vocals messages, share photos or videos, has a news feed, allows to make free calls, play games, and owns a location feature… WeChat’s strategy was to create something that already existed (that is a messaging application) but to add a lot of new features to it. When a new feature is out, they will make a video about it, to aware mobile users that it’s available and explain them how to use it.
Furthermore, companies on WeChat can have an official account and people will follow their news and updates. Tourism companies have interest to be on WeChat to be chosen rather than other companies. 80% of WeChat users follow at least one official account. These accounts even spend money on WeChat: 42.1% of official account spend less than 10 RMB per month and 29.5% spend from 10 to 100 RMB per month.
Chinese tourists and Social Medias
These features are really appreciated by Chinese tourists. Chinese tourists are young people that have the means to travel. They are heavily connected during trips, book their trips on Internet, look for advices on the Social Medias, share photos during their trips with their friends and family, and give advices after their trips. Social Medias are used every time during their travel, they are part of their experience. One of their first demands for hotel is to have WiFi to use their Social Medias. The most used Social Medias are Weibo, a microblogging platform that allow to write short blogs and has 600 million fans, WeChat, renren.com, a Social Media more for students, etc… Chinese people get their information on these Social Medias and on other internet websites: they are looking for advices, reviews, former tourists’ experiences…
The advantage of Social Media in China
A lot of websites are censored in China by the great Firewall and also on the tourism field, so it can be difficult to find reliable information that is not partly censored. On the Social Medias there are less censorship due to the amount of publications per day. Therefore it’s easy to find trustworthy information. More, these websites are in Chinese and provide information given by Chinese people who have the same demands and expectations. Like every other tourists, Chinese one have demands and wishes that can be different than tourists from other countries. For example, they will absolutely want something to make tea in their room, Chinese food in the restaurant and they will want to have everything useful translated in Chinese. This is a great opportunity for brands: if someone share them on their Social Medias, they will be quickly famous by all their network! On WeChat, 57% of the users said that their network grown thanks to WeChat. It means that on WeChat they have people that are not really close to them, but they can view their moments. Here is an infographic on the Social Medias used by Chinese tourists.
The booming e-tourism
To plan a trip Chinese people now use the Online Travel Agencies more than the traditional agencies. OTAs bring advantages as the choice of hotels and flights and more liberty in the information and the planning. They don’t have to listen to a counsellor, they will make their own opinion using the means they want. We can find direct reviews on the e-tourism platforms, and a lot of hotels are available. There are every information needed about the hotels on the platforms so people don’t have to do another searches. The most used online travel agencies are Ctrip.com which has 23% of the market shares. It offers package with hotels and flight and advices about nearly ever destination. It’s a very complete website. Then we can find Tuniu, another travel agency that provides pretty much the same services as Ctrip.com, eLong and then Qunar.
Chinese people were more than 100 million to travel in 2014, and this number is expected to grow. China understood that travels are a big thing in China and decided to invest. A lot of capital investments were done to develop e-tourism, some partnership are made with foreign countries, airlines or companies to ease tourism processes. The big OTAs made a lot of partnerships. For example, Ctrip invested on Priceline, the holding of Booking.com to allow people to find more hotels all around the world. These agencies also think about expanding their offers internationally, and Qunar recently launched Qua, its platform translated in English. Ctrip before had the privilege to be the first one to have a translated website in English. Big companies like Alibaba, an e-commerce website very powerful in China, decide to have their own tourism platform and Alibaba launched Alitrip recently, an e-tourism platform. Occidental brands begin to want partnership with Chinese platform to attract Chinese people. Qyer is a website that allows travellers to post advices and share their experiences. Airbnb and Booking.com developed a partnership with Qyer recently.
Reservations are now made via smartphones. If a lot of people have a smartphones, not everybody got a computer. Nearly 80% of Internet users are on smartphones only. Ctrip, Qunar, eLong and Qyer launched an app on smartphones, to allow users to have a better user experience while booking their trips through their phones. These sites also have their own apps and official account on WeChat. Obviously traditional travel agencies suffer from this and more of them launch a website with their services.
Travel Agencies on WeChat
A new strategy is to build a data base into WeChat concerning travel agencies. WeChat users will be able to consult this data base to have reviews and help. This base will be available for question about before, while and after the trip. It is able to have 70% of the most common questions that tourists ask. The principle will be the following: the Chinese tourist will ask questions through his telephone keypad and there will be an automatic answer. This answer could be a text, photos, videos, sounds or visual animations. This can be a good marketing strategy for everything related to trips. A current strategy done on WeChat by a lot of companies is O2O, or Online to offline. It’s about attracting someone somewhere (shops, museums, places, etc…) using WeChat. A strategy alike this one can be done in the tourism field: a game, QR codes, an event, or a new feature that led to a real touristic place. Chinese people will like to visit something or to go in a place if there is something fun, something entertaining.
They will be the perfect ambassadors of a brand, or a hotel if they enjoyed their experiences, because Chinese people share a lot their good experiences. This was for example a big thing recently for ski agencies: Chinese people were 200,000 to ski 15 years ago but they are now 20 million so there is a big opportunity in this market. Canada decided to launch a marketing operation on WeChat to attract Chinese people to ski in their stations. QR codes are heavily used in China. WeChat has a QR codes feature and a lot of brand use it. For example, Visit Europe launched a WeChat campaign by putting QR codes in China. People could scan the code and discover Europe and have promotions. Chinese people are fond of these marketing strategies.