Top Mistakes by Travel Agencies in China

A top Guide for founders of travel agencies in China, tour operators, or an ambitious tourist guide

I will explain today the difference between Successful Travel Agencies in China and others. You may of course have different opinions from Mine, but … based on 5 years of experience in this Industry, I have worked with more than 300 Business Owners & General Managers in the Travel industry, we have already worked with more than 300 clients in the Travel Business only focusing on “outbound Chinese Tourists”.

After so many Projects, I will try to explain what works, and what mistakes most Companies are making in this Market.

Because people learn more from mistakes than from Successful Tips here is My Article aimed at equipping you for this complex & different market.

Top Mistakes by Travel Agencies in China that Want to Attract Chinese Tourists

1- Never Underestimate the Size of the Chinese Market

The Chinese outbound Tourism Market is the Biggest in the world and it is not finished. It is just the start.

Fast growing market

It is still a growing Market.

  • One of the fastest Growing Tourism Markets in the World, in Percentage Growth and Number of Travellers
  • Only 10% of Chinese currently have a passport, huge scope for continued Growth.

Chinese will become Wealthier & Increase in Number.

It is already the First number of Tourists in Many countries in the world and should be the priority of most Tourism Players.

  1. The Biggest
  2. The Increasing Market
  3. Increasing of Spending

2-Don’t Underestimate the Competition

I know, you have searched on Google and you think you are the only one in your sector in this market.

Bad news sorry, you have for every country thousands of travel agencies offering the same service as you.

Most of them are Chinese travel Agencies. They already have marketed an offer for any destination for at least 5 years.

You are not alone, and your competitors are different from those you have in other Markets.

Travel Agencies in China

3- Lack of Ambition

If you want to enter the Chinese market,

  • it is not enough to wake up one day and say… “If I try to develop my business in China ” 
  •  it is not enough to send an email to 10, 20 100 travel agencies 
  • It is not enough to only translate their Website, (it is a good first step but usually not enough) 
  • It is not enough to Take a Business Developer 
  • It is not enough to translate your existing tour details
  • It is usually not enough to make a business trip or participate in one trade Fair. 

China is a big cake, and it is one of the most Promising Markets in the World… but it is not for “relaxed” Companies.

You need to work hard and invest a minimum amount.

Chinese consumers do not trust Startups (young companies) and are a ‘Follower’ Type of Client, they will trust an existing company and will be paranoid about being cheated.

4- Wrong Business Model

Partnership with Travel Agencies in China

Most People in the travel industry around the world are working on smart partnerships with other travel firms and collaborating based on these mutual specialisms.

I have Bad news for you Guys… It is not working like this in China.

It is difficult to have Partnerships in this type of Travel Business in China, and most of the time, Chinese Companies will try to take advantage of you.

  • They will negotiate and renegotiate prices with you
  • They will press you & push you
  • They will always ask you for more information
  • They will try to recruit your Own Guide, your own staff
  • They will copy your Circuit, tour (Nothing is easier to copy than a Tour )
  • They will try you, and then do this with their existing Tour
  • They will try to not pay you

Do you think they will ask for a 10% commission… or only 20%?

Usually, they want at least 50% commission or will oversell your services and make the final client disappointed on a far higher price tag.

Online Domination of Travel Agencies in China

Most of the travel Business is online in China.

  • 80% of Travel bookings are online
  • 90% of Trip preparation is Online
  • 80% domination of OTA (online travel Agencies in China)

If you think you can go offline, and develop your business in China… it will not be easy..

China is not for old fashion Travel Agencies

It was in 2010… but we are in 2018.

If you are an old school Company… you change and adapt, or you will die in China.

Pretty simple. You had better know that before you decide to invest.

Chinese Business in Chinese

In China, Companies deal in Chinese. I hate to always repeat the same thing but

  • Chinese Travellers will always choose  Travel agencies in China that speak their language.
  • They will always prefer a tour Guide that speaks Mandarin
  • They will always check the first Chinese Website and do not care about your English Website

And NO facebook in Chinese, No SEO for Google and NO Twitter intagram youtube

China is a different Landscape, a different online Country, a different World. 

You adapt yourself or you disappear…

Reaching the Final client is better and more profitable.

Reach the Chinese travelers as Directly as possible, most of the Young generation of tourists will prefer to find a local Tour operator and have that ‘real’ travel experience.

5- Think you already have a Competitive Advantage

Never, Ever think you have a competitive advantage before already receiving many Chinese clients.

  1. Your advantage in other countries probably does not matter
  2. Chinese Companies probably already do better than you (they are localized!)
  3. Your selling point in China is TOTALLY different
  4. You need to think, analyze understand, and Adapt to improve your Company, your services, your offer, your package
  5. You think you have the cheaper price… haha. Chinese Competitors will always find a way to be cheaper than you.

6- Do not Geolocalize their Offer – Website – Pitch

It is important for you to REALLY understand that China is a different world.

  • They think in a different way
  • They have a different language
  • They have different consumer Habits
  • They like different things when they travel
  • They have a different vision of your country

Almost everything has to be Adapted for them.

Offer – Package

You need to adapt your travel Package – your tour – your Offer to attract them.

more Shopping usually, no Sunbathing, More Photo spots, and Hotels with Wifi..


Starting with a translation of your website is a good start, but later you need to re-think the User experience.

  • Which pages do they like,
  • where they spend most of their time,
  • what words I choose,
  • What Picture/video is suitable to my Image

Sales Pitch

Adapt your Sale Pitch for your Chinese Audience. I guess you need to have a Chinese sales team that needs to contact Clients and convince them to choose you.

Leverage your advantage as a Local Agency, High Standard of Services, local Experience, Knowledge of the Environment, etc.

7- Don’t Invest in Online First

Most travel agency Owners are Offline Businessmen. You have developed your agencies at a Partnership trade fair and Face to face meetings.

You think Tourism Business is a Face to face business, a relationship business.

In China, not really (or not at first)

  • You invest in a Trade fair, move your team, get a 100-name card, and you think the game is Done. and zero contracts.
  • You will meet 10 travel agencies face to face, Chinese people will be nice, and Zero contracts
  • You will Prospect on the ground 1000 companies without Real B2B advantage… Zero Contracts.
  • and conclude China is not good for business.

We repeat this in almost Every Article.

To attract B2B travel Agencies in China, you need to be visible online.

When Travel Agencies in China need to identify a new Supplier they will search online for the best local Agency on Baidu or the Chinese search Engine.

  • They do not want to deal with a company that does not know how to handle Chinese tourists.
  • They will not take the risk of mistakes and nobody wants to create more indirect Competitors.

To attract Direct travelers, you need to be visible online.

8- Bet on Partnership

B2B Market VS B2C Market

How to explain to you with 2 simple graphs… the difference between these 2 Business Models

PS: Agency Fees are your travel agency Turnover.

Having a B2B Travel Partner is good if they are regularly trustful and want long-term collaboration.

But for this, you need to have a unique advantage

  • Cruise; you have a boat they have to use you
  • Hotel: you have a Great hotel and they can use you
  • Logistics: you have a bus and a lot of Drivers
  • Attract Park: you have a non Copy asset.
  • You are an Airliner… and you have the cheaper rate…

You are a Travel agency and you sell Organization, transport and Tours… it is Complicated to have a long-term partnership you understand easily why?

You have better to bet on your Own Brand

Developing your own Brand will create you as an Asset in China.

  1. You will get the Reputation and the credibility
  2. You will easily partner with Chinese Travel agencies
  3. You can easily be recommended
  4. You get Direct Clients
  5. You invest in your own future

9- Attracted by Big Groups of Travellers?

Massive groups of Tourists make you excited?

And when you think about these buses of Chinese tourists you Dream…

Sorry to dash your dreams but, no, they are not the best Clients for you.

  • They are usually Older
  • Cheap Tourists, do not spend any money
  • Chinese TO organize that without your help
  • They do not search for local experiences
  • They are more difficult to handle
Travel Agencies in China

You have better to look for Indenpendant travellers or Semi Independant travellers

Young Rich and connected Semi-independent Chinese Travellers

10- Not be able to convince Chinese Future Clients

When we develop lead Generation campaigns, our clients get Leads. It means asking Chinese travellers, or TO.

And Sometimes, they are not able to transform Prospects into Clients.

It is really the hardest part, converting these Leads.

But you never can have a good Business model without good conversion.

Travel Agencies in China

We are speacialized to Increase Traffic, and visibility and get more leads.

And you need to convert these leads into Clients and

11- Do not invest in Digital

If you want to Develop your Business in China, usually Digital is a better option than Traditional Media, and traditional Communication Channels, and better than having a physical Office or Travel agency.

Digital is the base for every business in China, especially in travel.

I have nothing against the old Economy but Which one will defeat the other?

  • Alipay or China Bank?
  • Alibaba or Walmart?
  • Shanghai Taxi or Didi (Chinese Uber)?
  • Ctrip or CITS?
  • Airbnb or Hilton?

Some companies are really expanding fast and optimising their online Communication and eBusiness

  • We are a pure Digital Marketing agency specialized in the Chinese market.
  • We are also growing very fast… because it is the right Trend.

How to optimize your Digital Marketing in China.

You have to read our article.

Sum up

Search Engine : Baidu, SEO …

Baidu SEO & SEM

Getting a high ranking on natural Results is better if not, ads can also be effective on Baidu.

It is Simple, O

  1. when Chinese want to search for a travel agency, they search on Baidu,
  2. When they want to plan a trip they search on Baidu
  3. When they want to know where to travel and what to do they search on Baidu.

How it works

  1. You need to Optimize your Website for Chinese Search Engine
  2. You need to optimize and create Content
  3. You have to create a lot of Backlinks (a lot)
  4. You need to analyze, and optimize for User experience
  5. You need to get the trust of Baidu

SEO in China Baidu Search Engine Optimization via GMA

Social Media

You have to optimize your Presence on Chinese Social Media

  1. Wechat
  2. Weibo
  3. Other Social network platforms that Chinese travelers may use.

how it works 

  1. Create attractive content
  2. Promote the content
  3. Engage users
  4. Engaged Users shared your Content

More information here.

Influencers & Media

  1. You can engage influencers to develop your visibility and try to get Askings.
  2. You can let eMagazine and online Media Speak about you. it can work

We can actually provide the last Strategy that works, just contact us if you have a serious project

12- Do not realize how important is Reputation

Most of Travel Agencies do not realize how our Reputation is vital for your Business in China.

  1. China is a Country where Trust is the key
  2. Online is even more realesed on Trust
  3. And it is risky for Chinese People to pay an oversea Agency for their Trip.
  4. Chinese Travel Agencies do not take risk with not trustful Agency

In China you need to be proactive on your Reputation.

Be Active mean,

  • Create Great Content
  • Show that you do great Work
  • Enlight online your Difference
  • Engage with Influencers
  • Incitive your Clients to Put good review online
  • Work closers with Chinese Media

13- Do not understand the importance of Word of Mouth in China

In China , starting a Business is usually more difficult, but when you are doing great … it is Better.

Chinese Word of Mouth is very Powerful. Chinese Recommend ask for advice all the Time.

The Law of attraction is ever Higher in China.

You need to be patient at the beginning, do your work seriously and wait for Success.

Success will increase your success.

Make your Client Happy, this is the Best Strategy 

14- Give up too early

It takes time in China to do Business, you understand why now I hope, you need…

  • Time to Build Reputation
  • Time to Adapt your offer
  • Time to understand what Chinese wants
  • Time to Develop your Business and get Recommadation
  • Time to have a strong Digital Presence
  • Time to Convert Leads you will receive
  • In China nothing is easy… but

15-Move too Slow

One of the Problems that has a very negative effect. in China , it is the Time for your company take to take the Decision or do things.

In China, the Idea or Concept does not have a lot of Value…

What is valuable it is the time you take to deploy your strategy and get results.

  • If it takes you 6months to take the decision to translate a website, how long it will take you to develop a good Business ?
  • if it takes you several months to decide to Go or not… do you think strategy will be the same ?
  • if it takes you 1 week to provide a quotation, what will Chinese clients things where he receive quotation within 4hours from your competitors
  • How long time it take to your Chinese competitors to copy your Tour ? (less than 1 week I am sure 😉 )

Think fast, react fast to change, Excecute Fast.. this is the Key factor for success in China.

Digital Businesses increase the Business Speed in China.

Read also : How to convince a chinese travel agent to partner with your travel business ? 

Excecute , learn and adapt

About Myself

I am the founder of Gentlemen Marketing Agency, I am a Marketer, and an Entrepreneur.

I like to work with Startups & entrepreneurs even it is not the most profitable Projects and it is the most Challenging.

(Other Agencies may focus on other Business … )

We Continue to work for SME, Startup in Tourism and help them witness growth.

We are their Partner, their Marketing departement in China and we help them to compete against Ctrip, Qunar

We train a Commando Team to be smart and accept every kind of Challenge

You want to Contact me ?

I ONLY like to speak with ambitious People (do not waste my time with if you are not serious)

You wants to exchange with me

Travel Agencies in China Business


  • have read and understand, and i would like to be help to have this job in Kenya for my side i have done with Chinese but in small numbers but i would like to advance to a bigger tour company .

  • Shiri travel @tourism

    Hello mr Olever

    I’m Bashir abdelhadi
    General manager of shiri tourism from Sudan
    Im looking for china tour operator send tourist to sudan
    Can you help to me
    Thank you
    Another email

  • Fernando

    we are a Horseback riding tours & Adventures in Ecuador & South America, and want to get in touch with Chinese Travel Agencies, do you sell a list ?

    • Olivier

      Read the Article Fernando, you ahev not Chinese website, no reputation, nothing… what do you expect ?
      We sell a list yes, does not mean you will get Business. Please read this article and contact us if you are on the same page. 🙂


    Very useful tips really good.
    I am an Egyptian Marketing researcher and I need to contact the key tour operator of China: who are having arranged long trips to Egypt in order to ask them to fill in a questionnaire about tourist services and products
    Can you assist me?
    Thank you

    • Olivier

      thank you for nice words M Sally.
      It will be complicated to ask Key Tour operator to fill a questionary…
      They are busy for Real Business, and have no time to waste.

      Good luck

  • Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. The article is very useful and informative.


    i m tour operator from Bhutan..i want to collaborate with chinese tour operators
    we are best and good travel company who can work sincerely and trusty.
    so lets get chance to collaborate and work together

  • mtbinmorocco

    We just came across your fantastic web site, we would be pleased to work with together if you are interested, we run Culture, MTB Tours & trekking through the Atlas Mountains valleys & Berber villages and Sahara desert, our base is located in Imlil valley at the Atlas Mountains (67km from Marrakech), if you wish to create a new business in China with our company, please feel free to get in touch.

  • Blue Eisure

    I am very happy to write this comment to this company in China, since I tried to many times with various ways to success own transport agency in Sri lanka. I went meet several persons, several companies get success my effort. Because I have over twenty years experience in this tourist trade,

    I feel I have good sense about Chinese guest satisfaction .So at the moment I am working with other travel agent companies and online travel agents.Hence this company if give me a chance to work with them under any agreement ,


    Dear Marketing to China
    I want to attract Chinese Travel Agencies
    Oneworld Leisure Management !!
    We are a Local DMC in Srilanka Looking your Price for Marketing to Travel Agency in China !
    Oneworld leisure management Pvt Ltd is a dynamic and professional recently formed organization specializing in the tourism and travel industry.

  • Great article Oliver!

    Is it true that China restricts foreign travel companies from directly selling outbound travel to Chinese citizens? We have a adventure travel company in BC and want to sell to customers in China. How can we set this up?

    You can contact me through the email I’ve provided.


  • The greatest article about Chinese tourism Business.
    My name is Nevena Petrova, Head of Business Development with . We are a Blockchain OTA where bookings will be available in crypto currency and fiat money. LockTrip is the first hotel booking & vacation rental marketplace with 0% commissions. This is a blockchain powered marketplace & technology, where hoteliers and property owners can rent their property globally, collect money and manage bookings without paying any commissions to middlemen.
    Currently we have integrated 100,000 hotels worldwide, the first booking took place on the 6th of March and our prices are 4-21% cheaper than and any other place online so we expect to become the biggest bookings aggregator within the next two years maximum. we want to enter the Chinese Market … how can you help ?

    • Fernando

      Hello Nevena,
      It is a great project, can you help Outbound travel agent to connect with Chinese tour operator with your technology ?

  • Mustafa

    The best article I never had Read ….
    Agree, today is hard, tomorrow will be even more hard and every travel agency has chance to attract Chinese travellers

    • Olivier

      Thank you Mustafa, So glad to have people who appreciate what we writte. 🙂

  • Chinese visitors are the most effective single wellspring of progress in the tourism business. The capability of the Chinese market is far more prominent, in light of the fact that lone 6 for each penny of Chinese individuals possess a travel permit. So we anticipate that 200 million Chinese will travel abroad in only a couple of years.

Leave your comment