Hard Rock Cafe appoints China Travel Outbound


We are delighted to announce that Hard Rock Cafe has appointed us to represent the brand in the Chinese travel market. We will be promoting the global franchise to Chinese tour operators, travel agents, OTAs and the Chinese travel media.

Work on the account has already started. Our Chinese team attended IT&CM China (Incentives, Travel & Conventions, Meetings) last month in Shanghai with the Hard Rock team. IT&CM is the leading international MICE event in China and includes a MICE exhibition, destination presentations, networking opportunities and business appointments. We held 24 business meetings and will be building further on these relationships in the coming months.

We look forward to many more successful shows, meetings and media campaigns with Hard Rock Cafe in the future.

Free market consultations for applicants to the Discover England Fund


China Travel Outbound is offering FREE market consultations to destinations and tourism businesses planning to apply for financing through the recently-opened Discover England Fund.  The 3-year, £40 million fund seeks to finance initiatives which will deliver bookable product that appeals to international visitors.  To help access the Chinese outbound market, predicted to total 220 million by 2025, China Travel Outbound will give you a free bespoke consultation to aid your bid.

We’ll take you through research opportunities to understand the Chinese market, the travel industry landscape and Chinese consumers, from group to independent travellers and from familes to millenials.  We will share our approach to product testing and validation and we can help you put together a Chinese marketing and/or digital development plan to support your application.

The Discover England fund is designed to support the growth of inbound tourism, one of England’s most successful export industries.  In Year One the fund’s focus is upon “quick-win projects and pilots that meet customer demand and test new product or new ways of joining up and distributing existing product” and “research to build understanding of customers, markets and product gaps”. This is a great opportunity to gain your share of the enormous Chinese market while first-mover advantage is (just) still possible.

Free consultations are subject to availability and spaces are limited.  As soon as you have decided to apply for funding, please get in touch by emailing [email protected]. Consultations will be through conference facilitated telephone calls lasting up to 30 minutes.

Find out more about the Discover England Fund Criteria and process for application here. The first round of consideration of bids starts from 31 May 16 and Visit Britain is encouraging applicants to submit bids as soon as possible.

Funding of up to £250,000 is available for 10-15 applicants with projects which can be delivered by 31 March 2017. Expressions of interest for longer term projects will be sought between July and October 2016.

Good luck!


Photographic credit : John Stee

How to validate your product proposition in the Chinese travel market

In my last post, I suggested you validate your business or your brand proposition to make sure it is desirable, feasible and viable. To do this, you will need to speak to your target audience; either large numbers of Chinese consumers (probably impractical) or, more realistically, a number of Chinese tour operators.

If you have been reading our blogs, you will know that getting a straight answer from an extremely polite Chinese counterpart can be a challenge. You also need the contacts to arrange meetings with prospective Chinese partners in the first place. So how might you go about doing that?

Option 1. For your next sales meeting, forget the selling.

This may seem almost impossible to do, but next time you have the opportunity to sit in front of a Chinese tour operator don’t tell them how great your product is. Ask them what they think and listen to their feedback. Use that feedback to shape your product and your marketing strategy.

Top Tip: Use a Chinese interpreter with industry experience who will probe their responses and translate their answers for you, not just into English, but also into helping you determine the truth behind the smiles.

Option 2. Go on a mission.

If you want to hold meaningful meetings with targeted tour operators (those who have the right customer base for your product), you will need more time than can be offered through back to back meetings at exhibitions and events. We offer tailored, individual missions to Beijing and Shanghai.. These give you the chance to research your market, understand your business partners and their customer base, and explore the marketing opportunities for your brand.

Top Tip: Large tour operators have offices in more than one city. If you are on a sales mission, you might visit them all, but if you are primarily interested in research, you probably only need to visit one top tier city.

Option 3. Do your research.

If you are not able to spare the time or money for a mission, or if you are really just ‘testing the market’, a low cost option might be a research project. We offer topline research reports for new entrants into the market, or for brands looking to launch new products. These are backed up by primary research with selected tour operators in China. This approach can not build personal relationships in the same way as a personal sales mission, but it is a low cost test of the market and will help you determine your next steps. Prices start from just £500 ex VAT.

Top Tip: a survey is also a good way to introduce your brand and seek the all-important co-operation needed for a successful partnership with the Chinese travel trade.


China Travel Outbound offers sales missions to China with prices starting from £2,500 ex VAT. These fit in with your schedule, and are tailored to your requirements and target audience. Read more about one of our recent missions, tailored to the luxury market, here.


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Breaking into China. Where to start?

In the third of our blogs about the Top 5 Challenges in Attracting Chinese Tourists to the UK, I look at probably the biggest barrier to action : ‘I don’t know where to start’.


China is a huge country with unfamiliar geography, laws, customs, language, media landscape and travel industry structure. It is hardly surprising that we find it difficult to know where to start and we’re naturally worried about delivering return on investment for our budgets. However, if simple steps are followed, risks can be minimised and progress can be made.


Step 1 : Define your objectives and set your budget

As with any other marketing plan, start by defining your objectives and align them with your budget. How many Chinese visitors do you want to attract over the next 3 years, and how much budget do you have available to support these efforts? It doesn’t matter at this stage whether your objectives and budget are realistic – that will be ironed out later – but it is good to have the numbers in mind.


Step 2 : Define your target market

Who is your Chinese customer? Is your product most attractive to the group market or the fast growing independent traveller? What age and demographic is your customer? Will they be travelling alone or as a family? You can start to define your Chinese market by understanding the Chinese customers you are already welcoming.


Step 3 : Product

Think very carefully about your product and identify the elements you know work for the Chinese market and those you are unsure about. Are there changes you need to make?


Step 4 : Validate your assumptions

Validation is a tried and tested process which benefits all businesses and brands at any stage in their development. Take your product information (in your case, your sales presentation or your brochure) and present it to your target audience (probably Chinese tour operators or online travel agency staff). Ask your audience for feedback and act on it. Read more about how to validate your product in the Chinese travel market.


Step 5 : Build your marketing plan


Now you have a better idea of your target audience, the validity of your product, and your Chinese strategy, start to build your plan. This is where you may need to revisit your targets and your budgets to reflect what you have learned.


If you would like help with any of the 5 steps discussed, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to walk you through any or all of them.


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