5 ways to market your hotel to the Chinese

Now that your hotel is Chinese-friendly, what are the key steps to promote yourself to the Chinese? We look at the top 5 ways to market your hotel.

Unlock the power of China’s travel trade

The Chinese travel industry landscape is complicated. More than 27,000 bricks & mortar travel agents hold the key to many of the bookings by first-time overseas holidaymakers, while the two largest Chinese travel websites, CTrip and Qunar, have millions of customers that European websites can only dream of. CTrip’s users alone number more than 250 million. The Chinese spent over US$87 billion online on travel in 2016.

Not only does China have a complex travel industry, but business is based on Guanxi, a Confucian concept of trust, hierarchy, giving and receiving. Guanxi is built over time and the only fast way into successful working relationships with the Chinese travel trade is via an established partner.

Don’t get lost in the Middle Kingdom

2/3 of Chinese planning travel carry out research online, so make sure you can be found. Much has been written about China’s singular digital environment; to get noticed by Chinese holidaymakers you need to have a presence on Weibo and WeChat so that prospective Chinese visitors can find out about your offering. A fantastic presence on Facebook will work in many of your markets, but China isn’t one of them.

Make sure you share compelling content and promotions on social media too. Upgrades and late check-ins are just some of the special offers promoted via WeChat which have been encouraging Chinese travellers to book direct with Mandarin Oriental.

Offer quick and easy online booking in yuan

More than 1 in 5 Chinese travellers say they plan all aspects of trips themselves, so having a bookable website is vital. Design your Chinese website with the audience in mind, using the right tone and focusing on the aspects of your hotel and destination which appeal most to Chinese travellers. Optimise your site for Chinese search terms, and remember that Chinese travel agents will use your site for information too.

Of course, you site needs to be in Mandarin, and Cantonese is a plus. Show prices in yuan and accept China UnionPay. The growing tide of Chinese independent travellers will thank you for it. 

Make it easy to be reviewed

Thanks to China’s collective culture, the Chinese are much more influenced by peer reviews and recommendations than Western travellers. Encourage your Chinese guests to review your hotel on Ctrip and Qunar as well as on travel guide sites such as Qyer and Mafengwo; experiment with signs at the front desk and by asking your Chinese guests for reviews via WeChat. Numbers of reviews help rankings, as do Chinese-friendly facilities such as free Wifi.

Partner with the most influential Key Opinion Leaders

Chinese actress Yao Chen’s wedding in Queenstown, New Zealand was reported more than 2.4 million times on Chinese social media – and that was in 2012. The subsequent tripling of Chinese tourists to the country certainly helped Tourism New Zealand share the actress’ happy day. Partnering with the right KOL, especially when coupled with genuine social media moments via livestreaming, remains a great way to raise awareness of your offering. Destinations from New York to Indonesia are investing in the power of KOLs.

 

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Chinese visits to Royal Museums Greenwich up 74%

Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) today announced results of its annual international visitor survey, which reveals a 74% increase year-on-year in Chinese visitors.

The figures also show the Chinese taking a larger share of the international market, making up 8.3% of all overseas visitors to RMG in 2016/17, compared to 4.9% in 2015/16.

In recognition of the opportunity presented by the growth in Chinese inbound visitors to the UK, in 2016 RMG developed its international strategy to include a strong focus on China. Specialist travel PR and representation agency, China Travel Outbound, was appointed to design and deliver a programme of work in China to raise the profile of the museums, engage with the travel trade within the groups and FIT markets, and, specifically, to encourage Chinese tourists to extend their stay to visit more than one museum.

Activities have included an audit of each museum’s online profile in China, a series of press releases and interviews with the Chinese press, a tailor-made sales mission to Beijing, attendance at ETOA’s World Bridge Tourism Conference at IPW China in Shanghai, meetings with Chinese tour operators at UK trade shows, and the introduction of Union Pay to the Royal Observatory shop. RMG staff also underwent China Ready Training and the organisation signed up to VisitBritain’s GREAT China Welcome Charter.

Last month, Royal Museums Greenwich, won a Chinese Tourist Welcome Award for Service Quality at ITB China in Shanghai, placing the museums squarely onto the international stage in showcasing best practice in this market. The award was received by China Travel Outbound’s Beijing Director, Vivienne Song, on behalf of RMG.

Travel Trade Sales & Marketing Manager, Royal Museums Greenwich, Amy O’Donovan, is responsible for the Chinese market. She says,

“I am delighted by today’s results. Our Chinese journey is really starting to bear fruit and we have exceeded all our targets. It is a fast-moving and complicated market but, with the help of our agency, China Travel Outbound, we are making significant inroads and hope to see even further growth next year as we implement more of the initiatives we have planned.’

The greatest percentage increases were seen at the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark, where the Chinese visitor figures grew by 247% and 200% respectively year-on-year. Total Chinese visitors across all four museums exceeded 68,000.

Vivienne takes her parents to Chiang Mai and learns Thai Boxing

China Travel Outbound’s Beijing Director, Vivienne, travelled to Thailand last week on holiday. Like a growing number of Chinese 30-somethings, she took her parents with her, and immersed herself in the experiences offered in Chiang Mai. Here she tells us why there’s a huge growth in multi-generational travel and how experiential holidays are important to the Chinese.

I recently journeyed with my parents to Chiang Mai in Thailand where we enjoyed glorious food and weather. I made some interesting observations about Chinese travellers there but first I’d like to explore their changing travelling preferences.

Chinese independent travellers are rising. Group tours and set itineraries are no longer prominent features of travelling. Instead, Chinese millennials especially are growing more confident in planning and booking every aspect of their trips. According to a TripAdvisor survey, 9 in 10 of them do so. And while shopping does still feature highly on Chinese travel itineraries, there is also a growing demand for booking unique and authentic experiences.

Experiential travel is becoming increasingly more attractive to Chinese travellers, especially if we can share our activities on social media. We are getting tired of the same mainstream destinations, Chinese travellers are looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences; from visiting wineries to polar expeditions, there is nothing the Chinese won’t try. Much evidence has been found for the growth of experiential travel; road trips are expected to grow by a whopping 75% over the next two years, adventure travel by 52% and polar travel by 32%. This makes it clear that, for travel destinations, highlighting local experiences is a high priority.

Multi-generational family travel is gaining momentum…taking advantage of holiday time by travelling with families is becoming more common.

As I did with my parents, multi-generational family travel is also gaining momentum. Young professionals nowadays focus on their careers leaving little to no time being spent with their families. Therefore for many Chinese people, taking advantage of holiday time by travelling with their families is becoming more common. I must also add that my parents’ generation, those born from 1955 to 1965, didn’t have many opportunities for anything – a good education, a good lifestyle, a window to the outside world. And with more and more people making good incomes nowadays, I’m in a position where I am financially capable to show them the world and treat them to experience the same things we did. And, perhaps most importantly, it allows us to give them the opportunity to show off in front of their friends! Lastly, another reason why multi-generational trips are becoming more popular is that they represent a token of our appreciation. Unlike in Western countries, grandparents more commonly look after and help to raise their grandchildren. Therefore, taking our parents on holiday is a way for us to express our gratitude at being there for us to help raise our children.

Taking our parents on holiday is a way for us to express our gratitude at being there for us to help raise our children.

As a result, multi-generational family travel is on the rise. According to ForwardKeys, family travel bookings for up to four people were up 18% in December 2016 compared to the previous year.

This brings me to Chiang Mai.

Whilst there, I was interested in experiencing some of Thailand’s local customs. The first thing I tried was a sweaty, but fun, boxercise class.

I also partook in a Thai cookery course which is where I made some interesting observations. When I first visited Chiang Mai four years ago, I registered for the same course. At that time, there was no Chinese-speaking course and I was the only Chinese tourist in the class.

Four years ago, I was the only Chinese tourist in the class. This time, I was able to sign up to a Chinese-speaking course.

However this time, I was able to sign up to a Chinese-speaking course and, not only that but, there were so many Chinese tourists there that they had to separate us into two groups with about 8 to 10 people per group. The English-speaking course? There was only one group with 8 tourists. This highlights to me how much Chinese travellers have changed and how far travel destinations have come in adapting to the needs of Chinese tourists.

Experiential travel is important to me as there are many things I want to experience and learn. If I visited Europe, there are a number of things I’d want to try. In the UK, I’d be really interested in partaking in a royal etiquette course as well as learning how to organise a traditional English afternoon tea party. With the right marketing and promotion, anything to do with tradition and the country’s history, such as baking classes and horse riding, would be popular with Chinese tourists. If I were to visit France, I’d opt for a cookery course again and, of course, lots of wine tasting, but also some short museum-organised courses about art would be of interest to me. And, most definitely, I’d sign up to a Flamenco dancing course if I travelled to Spain.

 

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