Are you are luxury hotel looking to expand your business in the Chinese market? If that is the case, I am sure you will greatly appreciate this article about different tools you can use to promote your multiple star hotel to attract more Chinese customers.
Let’s start first with an overview of the Chinese Hotel Market
From 2010 to 2015, the hotel industry in China has been growing at about 9% per year. The Chinese hospitality market which generated US$44 billion of revenue in 2013, was in 2015 up to US$53.2 billion according to Ibisworld. A study performed by McKinsey stated that in 2013, there were 2.5 million hotel rooms all across China. In comparison to other more mature markets in Europe or the US for example, China has a pretty low hotel penetration with about 4 rooms for 1,000 people. By 2023, these figures are expected to reach US$100 billion, 6.3 million rooms and 8 rooms per 1000 capita.
The hotel industry in China highly benefited from the 2010 Shanghai Expo: Foreign tourists and Chinese coming for other Chinese cities.
As for luxury hotels, according to China Internet Watch, they are mainly located in big and middle-sized Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen. Also, 6 out of 10 luxury hotels Chinese guests are men who earn an average income of 5,000 – 10,000 RMB.
A nice website
With more than 660 million internet users in China, having an online presence to attract potential Chinese guests for your hotel is a must. The easiest way to build an online presence is to have a website.But not any website. It should present certain characteristics that will appeal to the Chinese high-end customer:
- A nice feel-and-touch website
- A nice but yet classy design
- A website translated in Chinese (China ranks 47th/100 in EF English Proficiency index)
- High-quality pictures and videos to emphasise brand storytelling
- Relevant content about your services and useful information for the Chinese visitor
- A built-in online booking form to enable the Chinese visitor to directly book on your website
- Testimonials from satisfied customers (China’s word-of-mouth is getting stronger and stronger, it is thus wise to ease the new Chinese customer’s fears)
You may also consider making your website responsive. In fact, 88.9% Chinese netizens use their mobile phone to access the internet. Needless to say, adapting your website to mobile phone’s requirements will help in creating a better online customer experience.
As you can see above, Shangri-la hotel, one of the most famous luxury brand hotel chain in China with more than 50 hotels across the country, has a colorful but yet clean design which broadcast high-quality pictures as well.
Along with a high quality and dedicated website, you should create an SEO strategy tailored to Baidu’s requirements. Baidu has 80% of the search engine market in China. Optimizing your SEO for Baidu is a very different process compared to Googl, its western counterpart, because of the existence of different algorithms and Chinese government rules.
High-Quality visuals: pictures and videos
In the same category as having a website, presenting high-quality visuals: pictures and videos will enable your brand to authentically represent luxury. Above is Accor’s hotel : Mercure called Mei Jue in China.
Booking on Chinese platform like Ctrip
Did you know that more than 91% booked a room at a luxury brand online ? Among them about 32.8% was through a mobile phone or a tablet.
Which websites to Chinese customers use to book a luxury hotel? They primarlly use online travel agencies and then official hotel website. The OTA market is getting bigger and bigger every year in China. In 2015, it exceeded US$19 billion of revenue thus increasing by 18% in comparison to the previous year. Ctrip is the leader of the market and owns about half of the market share.
The first websites that Chinese people looking for a luxury hotel will think about are Ctrip, Qunar and official hotel websites (that’s why you need to create one).
Here you can see Hilton Shanghai HongQiao hotel page on Ctrip. It enables the Chinese visitor to gain some valuable information and to book directly on Ctrip. As Ctrip is a major OTA in China, it will help your high-end hotel to gain awareness in China.
Online celebrities testimonials
You may have already heard of the power of the key opinion leaders in China. A key opinion leader is a person, usually a celebrity (traditional or online), who has a strong following base on some Chinese social media. Chinese people strongly value others opinions, and even more when it’s online. You could partner with people on the main Chinese social media such as WeChat or Weibo to share their amazing stay at your hotel.
That is what New Zealand did by partnering up with Yao Chen, known as the queen of Weibo with more than 50 million followers on the micro-blogging platform.
Last and not least, Chinese people attach a strong importance to their image, what people think about them and more specifically the “Face” called Mian Zi 面子 in Chinese. It is quite difficult to summarise this cultural principle but if we had to choose one word it would be “reputation”. If you want Chinese visitors to book at your luxury hotel you will have to foster a positive reputation, thus avoiding negative comments and bad reviews online.
You can build a great reputation through Chinese social media or by doing some Online PR through luxury webzine. You have for example China Luxus, which as luxury-focused webzine. Their main objective is, of course, to share with their readers all of the luxury trends in terms of hotels, restaurants, but also, luxury brands.
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— Olivier VEROT (@Olivierverot) 11 mai 2016