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Website and search engine optimisation
Before we talk more about search engines, you should have a website. Your website should be written in Chinese. It should also present relevant content, have high-quality pictures, videos and use the most important keywords. You may also consider making your website mobile responsive. In fact, 8 out of 10 Chinese Internet users go online with their mobile phone. You will be viewed positively if your website is well displayed on a mobile screen. 91% Chinese people will book their luxurious room online. Among them, 3 out of 10 will use their mobile phone to do so.
As you can see above, the Shangri-la hotel which has more than 50 hotels all across China, it has an especially responsive website. You can even change the language to English or Simplified or Traditional Chinese.
According to China Internet Watch, search engines revenues in China will reach an estimated 105,500 billion RMB in 2016. As you may already know, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other key players are not allowed in China. The main search engine, with 79% of market share in China is Baidu. Baidu is a Chinese search engine founded in 2000 by Robin LI and Eric Wu. Most of their financial resources actually come from the Silicon Valley.
If you want your website to rank highly on Baidu, it has to comply with Baidu’s and the Chinese government’s specific requirements. Baidu also doesn’t use the same algorithm as Google does. You may rank high on Google but rank low on Baidu.
This is the first page of Baidu when we type “hai hua jiu dian” (海华酒店）
Online booking platforms
According to a hotels.com report, Chinese guests usually book on online travel agencies websites and then on official hotel websites. If we look at the data in more details, the main web sites Chinese customers will use to book a luxury hotel are Ctrip, Qunar and official hotel websites (that’s why you need to create one). The main online travel agencies in China are Ctrip, eLong, and LY. Ctrip is the leader of the market with more than half of the market.
Here you can see Hilton Shanghai HongQiao hotel page on Ctrip. It enables the Chinese visitor to gain 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 booking websites are also great places for reviews. An interesting study by Brand Karma and International Luxury Travel Market found that Chinese luxury hotel customers wrote about 90% more hotel reviews in 2013 compared to the previous year. About half of the total global reviews left by tourists are actually from the Chinese. Also, the top hotel review websites for Chinese luxury hotel customers are Ctrip, Elong, Qunar, Dao Dao, Dian Ping, Mango City, and Agoda.
If you want to have more direct communication with Chinese luxury travellers, you should definitely use social media platforms. As a Four Seasons report stated, “The ability to create an instant, unique touch point with consumers means that the location-based concept is quickly spreading globally.” The main social media platforms in China are WeChat, Weibo, QQ, Qzone and Ren Ren. WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging app with more than 690 active users worldwide. China is the main market. Then, you have Weibo, a microblogging platform with more than 222 million active users.
Source: Four Seasons Report about World Luxury Hotel market
You have, for example, Four Seasons, a foreign brand hotel chain that launched its lifestyle microsite and Weibo account in 2011.
Online PR in China
Online PR is an important part of a digital communication strategy to reach your Chinese customers. The word-of-mouth in China is strong, and you should make sure that you are visible, but in a positive way. You can use this tool in several ways: guest posts on a website or blog, having a review article published about your hotel or simply asking for your hotel name to be mentioned in one of their articles. The magazines you should contact must be specialised, luxury dedicated websites. For example, you have CNGold or DuGoogle. You also have Sina Travel:
According to hotels.com, 50% of Chinese hotel customers who had an bad experience went online to leave a negative comment.
Here is an article, which was liked more than 4110 times, and share 32 times titled: “5 best hotels in the world, 5 most luxurious 7-star hotels in the world”
E-reputation in China
Finally, like I said earlier your whole strategy should focus on gaining more visibility online as well as a good, positive, online reputation. The principle of reputation, or more specifically of “Face” called Mian Zi 面子 in Chinese, is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. They want to tell their friends they stayed at a nice hotel with a good reputation, or else it will badly impact their own reputation or more precisely “Face”. That is why you should make sure that when Chinese luxury visitors are looking for your hotel on Baidu or review websites, they only stumble upon positive comments.
A study by Shangri-La Hotels and Brand Karma showed that offering complimentary services on-site actually positively impacted upon Chinese customer’s online reviews and thus the hotel’s online reputation. Cornell University also recently found that positive reviews result in a property revenue growth. Each staff member is thus an advocate of the property e-reputation. It is important to take this into account when trying to attract Chinese customers.
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Digital Advertising in China : a new era !: How can we define China’s advertising in the digital age ? « Marl… https://t.co/z7tsiJXSTa
— Olivier VEROT (@Olivierverot) 26 mai 2016