China Travel Market : trends and opportunities
This is time to focus on digital marketing in China and understand its complexity also its opportunities for tourism.
Facing an “old Europe” in crisis without growth for many years, China is and can become a real source of growth for our tourism economy.
China is the second world economy and it is time to stop calling it an “emerging country” whereas it is a giant!
China is the 2nd largest market for Apple only next to the U.S. and has become. in very short years the world’s top tourist destination, in both receiving and sending tourists.
What needs attention is its rapid growing demand for luxury goods!
China’s complex market requires a real strategy in the long terrm and reasoning type like “a shot to see” has no practical impact or efficiency.
Market, trends and expectations
The tourism market is heavily influenced by “digital natives” Chinese whose influence becomes an unavoidable trend in the Internet ecosystem of 564 million Chinese Internet users with a forecast of 750 million Chinese Internet users by 2015!
With over 80 million outbound tourists in 2012, China market has become the main source of tourists across the world!
Many international tourism actors (domestic destinations, regional hotel chains …) are in strong competition to capture the Chinese shopaholic tourists who become harder and harder to please.
About 85% of Chinese tourists travel in Asian-Pacific countries, which makes China the first country issuer of tourists in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Australia …
Then the U.S. take a part of the market followed by Europe with France who has attracted about 1 million Chinese tourists.
China is like a continent itself and there are different social styles, market segments, customer types, or specific regional cities.
The market in France can be split and simplify in 4 categories:
- A critical mass of Chinese tourists traveling in groups and make the discovery of Europe at no charge with circuits of 10-12 days. These groups sleep in medium range hotels in the outskirts of cities (mostly Paris region when they are in France), they eat in a Chinese restaurant for € 5, visit the great classics of tourism and spend in shopping.
- Businessmen groups are a mix of business travel and sightseeing by consuming 4-star hotels and top level features.
- Upper-class clientele, composed of millionaires but who do not follow traditional circuits. Overall flows in France are still currently focused on Paris-Ile de France, Riviera (Nice, Cannes, Monaco) and other regions or cities or stations (Lyon, Chamonix, Bordeaux region, etc.).
- “Digital natives”, a second wave of Chinese tourists we have seen for several years and around the world which is promising for the future of luxury market and other areas and activities in France or abroad.
This second wave of tourists can be characterized by increasingly self-organized, hyper-connected, in search of unique and further destinations, urban, sensitive “green touch”, highly educated and mainly in the age group of 25-35 years.
They can be found in Palaces of Paris and other luxury hotels around the world.
These new high contributiokon tourists represent a major tourist tank located in the top of the Chinese middle class.
They do not want to travel in groups of Chinese tourists and have increasingly sophisticated expectations. They are very active on the Chinese Internet and Chinese social networks to find and share information on destinations or tourist and hotel brands.
Everything goes very fast in this market and strategies converging Offline and Online are one of the key factors for success in a complex and competitive environment.
Let’s look at specific market digital level.
The Internet in China is technically complex and culturally different from our western countries.
The digital strategies duplicated from the western world to the Chinese world are the main source of business failure in tourism and hospitality.
Chinese quality digital presence is essential for those who want to take this demanding but lucrative market in terms of economic impact on the tourist areas. The very low quality of websites in Chinese in the tourism and hospitality world is well-known, even for French or foreign luxury hotel chains. This has a cost for professional brandings or destinations. Indeed, the Chinese associate their bad experience as a possible Online/Offline bad experience and also as a lack of respect of the brand for themselves. (Do not “lose face” to his prospect or partner is a key point in the Asian culture).
Winning Digital Strategy in China
To be effective, here are some solutions for you to get a high-quality Chinese website :
- Hosting inside the Great Firewall of China
- Design adapted to the culture, to the Chinese spirit and to Chinese netizens
- Specific navigation and ergonomics
- Attract Traffic Via SEO, SEM or Social Media
- Relevant content to Chinese Internet users
The Specificities of the Chinese Internet
“Great Firewall of China”
In Greater China, the establishment of the “Great Firewall of China” by the Chinese government has the effect of blocking most western community sites. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Flickr … are not available in the Chinese Internet of Greater China. Censorship is conducted both electronic as well as human.
Chinese social networks and their distant Western cousins
China has a specific “social media”, vibrant and productive landscape.
No problem, the Chinese have their own social networks which are of extraordinary dynamism and whose features are often better than Western networks. Various studies have shown that the Chinese are much more engaged and more content producers than U.S. and European users. A pilot study shows that users of Chinese social networks are 76%-content creators, compared to 24% in the USA and 23% in Europe.
The micro-blogging platforms (= Weibo microblog in Chinese) are used by 88% of Chinese Internet users.
As an example Sina Weibo (a hybrid composed of Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Facebook and Flickr) to about 370 million registered users and 21.9% of luxury good online buyers exchange information through this social platform that displays growth and an impressive dynamism and interaction via mobile about 50%.
Social networks are everywhere in China, Chinese high contribution and millionaires are very daily active notably via their mobile!
This is where they learn, share, exchange and decide about their next trip.
So this is a key point for any digital strategy in China!
Acting with method, know-how and talent using dedicated platforms and tools to manage the immediacy, complexity and monitoring of messages and conversations in the social media universe Chinese.
In the Chinese internet, conversations are exponential, brands need to participate actively and intelligently in order to build themselves, develop via Chinese social networking knowledge of the destination among Chinese Internet users, learn from the Internet users to adapt its products and services for there is a “market intelligence and discussions” that are vital marketing resource for marketers!
Culture, language and reading different web
China has different social styles, market segments and customer types. The Chinese use the Internet and read differently from Westerners. Structuring their website is tailored to their writing with sinograms and their reading behavior on the Web.