In 2018, 150 million outbound visits were made by Chinese travelers, making China the world’s biggest market in outbound tourism and representing a rise of about 15% year-on-year. Knowing that Chinese tourists represent about one-fifth of tourism spending worldwide, missing the opportunity to attract them would be useless harm.
The number of outbound tourism trips increased by 11% in 2019 to reach 166 million outbound visits made by Chinese travelers. And it is still expected to increase to 170 million by 2022.
Currently, because of the coronavirus, Chinese people are asked to be careful when they go out and even asked to stay home to be safe. They do not have real social interaction, physical activity or singular experience or what we call social distancing. But you can be sure about one thing: they are looking forward to this summer for holidays and are searching for their next destination!
So how do some companies, and sometimes countries, do to attract as many Chinese tourists as possible? Here are some answers.
Adapt the Chinese tourists’ mindset and needs
- Chinese language
Language is essential for anyone for the reception of information. Knowing that only 25% of the Chinese population speaks English, it is easy to guess that they will favor the companies/services they will be able to understand. The main spoken language is Mandarin and they will look for places and services in Mandarin. For example, they will favor a hotel where they will be understood or a service which will not require them to speak English.
- Website and announces
The Chinese Google is Baidu, representing 82% of local search engine market share. That is why having a great SEO in Baidu is essential when Chinese people will be looking for the kind of service you offer.
Having a website in both English and Mandarin is a positive point for your first contact with Chinese potential customers. Thanks to key words and efficient SOE on Baidu, you will have more chances to appear in the first results after research but there is another way to be on the top of the ranking: a China-hosted website. If your Chinese website is hosted in China or in a neighboring country, you will have a better SOE. Hosting your website in Singapore or Hong Kong will increase its loading speed. Also, a domain name that uses .cn is favored by Baidu.
Chinese OTA is China’s Online Travel Agencies. It is important to be present on their platforms to gain visibility and credibility. The top OTA in 2018 were Ctrip, Qunar and Fliggy. With about one-third of the market share, Ctrip is one of the main online travel agencies in China offering flight ticket booking and hotel booking. Offering the same services, Qunar and Fliggy both have about 15% of the market share.
. Chinese Forums
Your presence on Chinese forums is, of course, essential, especially if you want to attract Chinese consumers. Chinese people rely a lot on comments and reviews before buying or booking anything. They also have the habit to regularly leave a comment to the products they just bought or tested and it goes the same for experiences and travels. That is why having a clean and positive e-reputation on these Chinese forums will help you to attract more customers. Don’t forget that Chinese OTA also offers a forum section and your reputation on classic forum platforms as Douban or Zhihu (that are one of the most consulted forums in China) will influence the decision of potential customers.
- WeChat Pay/AliPay
Unlike in Western countries, online payment is an ordinary thing in China. Paying with your smartphone is a part of every Chinese person’s daily life, and offering this feature to your Chinese tourists will, on one hand, reassure them for the payment but also make them feel more comfortable.
The most used online payment systems in China are Alipay and WeChat pay with respectively 54% and 40% of the market share. As you can see in the following picture, you need to expose a QR code to allow them to pay. So, adopt this habit and expose your WeChat or Alipay (or both!) QR codes.
- Chinese services/translation +visits
Not mandatory, but a very big plus for Chinese people. Offering Chinese services will also reassure them. Most of the Chinese tourists will travel with a group and the less they will talk a foreign language, the better. Having staff speaking Mandarin, offering a Mandarin spoken concierge service or proposing a city tour in Mandarin will make them fall in love with you! This type of strategy literally attracts Chinese tourists to you.
Special Deal between governments
Uzbekistan is the first Central Asian country to allow Chinese nationals visa-free access: Chinese tourists have seven days visa-free entrance which will help to develop this industry.
It is not the first time Uzbekistan does this. It gave 30-day visa-free access to citizens from 43 different countries and tourist numbers had risen by 42% in the first quarter of the year to 1.3 million!
Thanks to this visa-free measure for China, new and rich Chinese tourists will be attracted and they will develop the local activity and boost local sales.
Maldives’ plan is to add more direct flights from China to the Maldives. As in Uzbekistan, the goal is to attract more Chinese tourists in their country.
Currently, there are 26 direct flights a week between the Maldives and China. Since the Maldives wants to attract up to one million tourists annually by 2023 (which is three times more than the actual number), they will certainly have to triple the number of flights between Maldives and China.
Out of the 5,300 residency permits issued since 2013, more than 3,400 went to Chinese. Because of its recession and its low estate prices, Greece had to rise and issued many resident permits to non-EU residents in order to boost the economy. This is called the “Golden Visa” and was an efficient way for Greece to rise up and recover from its long recession period.
Thanks to governetments initiatives to promotes each others and work together, there are many opportunities for tourists professionnal. Our best advice for you is to be pro-active. Don’t wait for the customers to miracally come to you because there are some governmental programs going on but surf on this programs to make your marketing more efficient and less costly.
We are the GMA:
- Chinese market behavior specialists
- Digital marketing experts
- Tourism sector professionals
- Cosmopolitan Franco-Chinese team
Let’s see how you can be more attractive for your future Chinese customers, call us!