Chinese tourists were more than 100 million in 2014 to travel with only 120000 in Belgium, and most in Brussels. The Chinese are the tourists to attract because they spend a lot while travelling. Unfortunately, Belgium is not a destination that attracts many Chinese. That’s what it would take to Brussels to be able to attract more Chinese tourists.
Belgium seen by Chinese people
Belgium is not very familiar to Chinese people. Indeed, on Baidu when typing “Belgium” a lot of answers are “What is Belgium?”. Chinese spend a lot of time on the Internet that is their reference for all related to travels, destinations, and reputation of the country. But Belgium has not a very good online reputation in China. This is the kind of pictures that can be found on Baidu.
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What Belgium did
Some Brussels traders have expressed the desire to know more Chinese to be able to serve them during their travels. The city of Brussels has set up training for both the language and the Chinese culture for traders who want it. The goal is to treat the Chinese so well that they will want to come back or talk about Belgium around them once back in China. Belgium understood that Chinese tourists are the tourists to attract because of their shopping routine and their high buying power during their trips and especially when they are in Europe. Advices are also given to merchants such as how to deal with Chinese people when they have claims, the habit to serve them a cup of hot water, and avoid talking about certain topics. Chinese courses taken increased by over 300% per year. Traders are determined to make maximum efforts to attract these tourists.
What Brussels needs
Work on its online reputation
The Chinese always look on the Internet before choosing a destination, book a hotel or take a flight. Internet is part of their holiday research process. They will seek for information on the Chinese Internet. That’s why it is very important to have a good online reputation. This means being present and active on the Internet. To have a good online reputation Brussels must be more present on the Chinese Internet. When you type “Brussels” on Baidu, the leading search engine in China, there isn’t links from the city itself in the top results. It is necessary that the city has a website where it writes articles talking about itself and do not let others do it. The city must also post positive reviews and testimonials of former Chinese tourists to show that the city is appreciated. The e-reputation also involves social networks: there is about 630 million Chinese Internet users and 90% are on social networks. The most used are Weibo, a microblogging platform that has 600 million fans, and WeChat, an instant messaging application used by over 430 million people. Post news and news on social networks will make the city famous to these Social Medias users. Many Chinese people do not speak a language other than their mother tongue, so it is necessary that Brussels translate its sites, blogs and social networks in Chinese. Here is an infograph on the social networks used by the Chinese regarding their travels.
Propose routes for Chinese travellers on forums
Tourism-related forums are highly appreciated by Chinese . Qyer for example is the first Chinese forum dedicated only to tourism. The Chinese people always pass through the forums before booking a trip and deciding a destination. They love when something offered: Brussels should offer routes of different steps that would appeal to Chinese as a passage to the main monuments of the city, different luxurious boutiques … A complete itinerary where the Chinese will find everything that they will like. We have in mind the image of the Chinese tourist that travels only in a group. However, according to a survey by Hotels.com, 60% of Chinese are now travelling alone, it’s a new trend. This forces them to find what they will do themselves. If the work, it means activities once in the country, is already done for them it will be a plus and this will encourage them to visit the country and follow the proposed route.
Talk about the town in online newspapers
Online newspapers are also extensively used by the Chinese people before deciding on a destination. Using these magazines will allow people to discover the city and give people envy to go in this Brussels during holidays.
Invite stars or KOL
The Chinese are very impressionable and will listen to the advice of famous people. Inviting Chinese stars to spend time in Brussels is a great way to attract more Chinese tourists. KOL are also very powerful. These Key Opinion Leaders are usually present on Weibo and post many of their reviews and opinions on social networks about a lot of topics, and some tourism. They are followed by a lot of people listening to their reviews and adopting the same way of thinking as they do. Inviting them will make them talk about Brussels and Belgium on their profiles and will give envy to their followers to go in Belgium. This is an example of a KOL who is very powerful in the tourism field.
Upload great photos
Chinese like everybody prefer images to words. Nothing can better describe a place than photos. Existing images on Baidu are not very representative of Belgium and Brussels and are not attractive. Brussels should upload beautiful pictures showing its most famous monuments, its typical streets and its shops.
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