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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