Hotel Online Marketing in China

Status Quo of hotel online marketing

Chinese people talk online, reading online, shopping online and even date online. This trend has also pushed hotels to change their marketing strategy to focus more online marketing.

A report released by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) in June, 2012 shows that 538 million Chinese use Internet to get information. The hotel marketing has witnessed a profound change in these years. Online booking, online travel has become the mainstream.

air tickedt online booking

Air tickedt online booking

Hotel online booking

Hotel online booking

Half the Chinese travelers have booked air-tickets online and 60% travelers have booked hotel online. (Source: 163 news)
Those big names in hotel industry like Hilton and Westin have already started their construction of online community. Now they have presence on most influential China SNS sites: Weibo (Sina Weibo has already become the biggest online platform. It has more than 300 million registered users as of February 2012.

Your customers

Four in ten Chinese use internet and they happen to be the 40% who are more attractive to hotels.

Age of online bookers in China

Age of online bookers in China

According to a survey from iResearch, 44.7% online bookers are over 30 years old and another 29.2% of the online bookers are from 25 years old to 30 years old. They have worked for years and in China, people at this age are usually better educated and better paid. As the report also shows that 49.7% have taken university education and 30.9% of them have taken college education.

Education level of online bookers in China

Education level of online bookers in China

It means more than 80% users are higher educated.
Better educated people with higher salary usually travel more, especially for outbound travel.
This group of people is usually more interested in fashion and more demanding for quality life.
See more about how to attract Chinese tourists.

How to promote your hotel online

There are mainly three ways to promote hotel in China online:  Special designed website, SNS promotion and cooperation with online booking companies

A website in Chinese

If a hotel doesn’t have a website, it will probably lose at the beginning.

According to the introduction from Mr. Zhang, from C-trip, most Chinese tourists make decisions depending on the information online.

  • Over 50% of the tourists will compare the information from 2 websites;
  • 18% of them compare information from 3 websites;
  • 9% of the tourists would even check 4 websites.

The design of the website also needs customization for Chinese tourists.  It’s very logic for Chinese tourists to think that better design of the website, the better service it can get and the more they are willing to pay.

Homepage of Sofitel

Compared with most western people, Chinese will focus more on the information instead of the design when they visit a website. But it is because most websites are stuffed with information even on the homepages.

Thus, high class hotels’ website are usually better designed. It’s because their customers care more about quality than price. Sometimes, they try to ignore price on purpose to show how rich they are. If you target on high class tourists, you need to focus more on design and promotion, not putting price on the front page.

Typical homepage of economic chain hotel in China

 

Typical homepage of high class hotel (Hilton)

After creating a website for you hotel, the promotion of it is also important. A good website without people visiting it is sad. To promote a website, SEO and SEM are the most popular solutions in hotel industry.

There are hundreds of thousands people use searching engine to find hotels for their travels everyday. They are customers with existing demand. If your website can appear on the 1st position in the result, you will definitely get customers.

SNS promotion

As an important source of information, there’s also great value in developing SNS. Now 1 in 2 Chinese Internet users have Weibo (micro blog) accounts. As introduced in “2012 Corporate Weibo White Paper“ by Sina and CIC, there are about 5000 hotel enterprise opening accounts on Sina Weibo. Some of them have setup very professional Weibo accounts. See hotel Weibo marketing.

Westin weibo account illustration

Westin weibo account illustration

Besides Sina Weibo, there are also other important SNS sites. They target on different groups of people.
Douban: most users here are high educated people, RenRen: most users are students.
The benefits of promoting your hotels are SNS is that you can

  • build a community surround your company;
  • reach your target people precisely;
  • get feedback quickly from them;
  • creating a more friendly company image;
  • people are accept information from SNS more easily.

Cooperation

IResearch data shows the online travel booking marketing is incresing at 30% annually and the size of this market will expand to ¥2.46 billion by 2014. And the leaders in this market are C-trip, Yilong and Lvmama. Their advantage is that Chinese tourists, especially outbound tourists are still lack of knowledge and they can find all the information about airticket booking, hotel booking and travel agencies there on their website.
But with the competition is getting more and more tense between these companies, they are becoming more and more careful when picking partners. A company who has already some fans or popularity usually is more easily to get cooperation with those big online booking companies.

Special designed website, SNS promotion and cooperation with online booking companies are the most used three ways to promote hotel online in China. Usually they are used together as an integrated solution.

It’s also foreseeable with the changes of customers’ habit, online interactivity and online reputationwill be more and more important for hotels.

If you have any questions or marketing plan, feel free to contact me: marketingtochina[at]gmail.com