Senior digital agency specialist joins China Travel Outbound

Travel PR and marketing agency, China Travel Outbound (CTO), has recruited senior digital specialist, Ed Lamb, to head up its client services division.

Lamb has nearly two decades’ experience on agency management teams and joins CTO from the award-winning Brighton digital agency, Propellernet, where he worked for 9 years, leading pitch wins with new blue-chip clients such as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and McArthurGlen.   Prior to that Lamb played a key role within TMW’s management team, developing their digital offering as TMW (now TMW Unlimited) successfully evolved from an offline DM model to an online focused approach, with digital revenues quadrupling in his 3 years there.

Lamb’s appointment comes at an exciting time for the Chinese specialist as they enter their sixth year of trading, now working with over 20 clients in the tourism industry within the UK and Europe, and experiencing double digit annual growth. 

CTO has recently added Visit Copenhagen to its list of clients, and Lamb will play a key role in further international expansion and in developing new products to serve the needs of the agency’s customers.

Helena Beard, Founder and Managing Director of China Travel Outbound, said,

“I am thrilled to be working with Ed. He comes to us with a great track record in building successful agencies and his digital experience will be invaluable in our future plans.”

Ed Lamb said, “It’s a fantastic time to get involved with China Travel Outbound given the excellent base that has been put in place.   I can’t wait to work with Helena and the rest of the team to build on that and deliver the next phase of growth, increasing Chinese tourism revenues for all our clients.” 

For more information about China Travel Outbound, please visit www.chinatraveloutbound.com

Editors’ Notes: 

China Travel Outbound is a specialist travel PR and Marketing agency with offices in Brighton and Beijing. The agency’s clients include VisitBrighton, Royal Museums Greenwich, English Heritage, LNER and City Cruises. For more information, please contact Helena Beard at [email protected]

Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner 2019

The third annual Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner, held on the eve of World Travel Market London 2019, was a huge success. Hosted by China Travel Outbound and Capela China, the event marks the beginning of the international travel event and brings together all the movers and shakers of the British tourism industry who are making a difference to growing the inbound market of Chinese visitors to the UK.

We were extremely proud to welcome our clients, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), as our sponsor for the event this year. Laetitia Beneteau, the Leisure Sales and Distribution Manager at LNER, provided our guests with a fascinating insight into how LNER has been working closely with the China Travel Outbound team to bring high profile Chinese Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to experience the wonderful train journey up the East Coast from London to Scotland over the past 18 months. 

We were also joined by senior representatives from the travel companies, attractions and destinations who are leading the way in promoting Britain to the Chinese. Some of these very special guests included VisitScotland, Visit York, City Cruises, Gatwick Airport, Royal Museums Greenwich and English Heritage. We were absolutely thrilled that everyone could come together and celebrate the future of Chinese tourism in the UK. Of course, we celebrated in the most appropriate fashion – over a delicious Chinese feast at a restaurant in London’s Chinatown, London. Everyone had a wonderful evening, and we cannot wait to host this event again next year. 

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Chinese KOL standing with a chef

CTO has been hard at work organising an array of media trips for Chinese journalists, travel bloggers and online influencers. These trips deliver valuable promotion for our clients in some of the most powerful Chinese travel platforms, such as Mafengwo, Qyer and C Trip, and content is widely shared through social media channels such as WeChat and Weibo. This summer, we have explored a slightly different angle for LNER, to promote their exciting on-board menus and the gastronomic delights of London, York, Edinburgh and Moray Speyside in collaboration with popular Chinese ‘foodies’, Bob and Jonny.

Bob and Johnny on LNER train

Bob & Jonny are food, restaurant and hotel reviewers. They have profiles on most of the travel review sites and social media platforms in China and have more than 750,000 combined followers on WeChat and Weibo. With Jonny’s photographic skills and Bob’s in-depth culinary analysis, they are a perfect team, producing high quality, professional content and social posts. A positive review from these two would work wonders for a company investing in the Chinese market. Their target audience are young, middle class individuals who love travelling and trying diverse, international dishes.

KOL Bob visiting the UK

Starting from London, the two bloggers have made the journey all the way up to Scotland, frequently stopping at points of interest along the route and documenting their activities as they go. Some of their stops include: Bottomless brunches in London, Chocolate stories and fine dining in York, Distillery tours and whiskey sampling in Moray Speyside, wandering through the V&A museum in Dundee and returning to London for scrumptious afternoon tea at Royal Museums of Greenwich’s Cutty Sark, one of London’s top historic landmarks, and an educational insight into the Houses of Parliament.

Royal Museum Greenwich Cutty Sark

If you would like to find out more about reaching out to Chinese bloggers and influencers. Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss this with you further.

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*Images from Bob and Jonny’s Weibo account


Martinhal collaborates with Tribe Organic for ‘Children’s day’ event

Children’s Day’ is an annual holiday in China, as well as many other countries, celebrated on June 1st. While there are no specific traditions to be followed regarding the holiday, it is typically accepted as being a day for parents to spend time with their children and reflect on the impact they have on their lives; it is a day for ‘family time’. Many companies will award their staff a full or half day off in order to allow this unofficial custom to be followed, promoting positive mindfulness of loving, family relationships.

Commercial businesses also have the opportunity for involvement in the holiday, with numerous public services and tourist attractions allowing free admission to families and other companies holding specific ‘children’ themed events.

This was a perfect chance for Martinhal, a hotel chain based in Portugal who excel in ‘family-friendly’ holiday experiences, to express itself further in the Chinese market through its involvement in the holiday. With the help of China Travel Outbound’s Beijing office, Martinhal was able to collaborate with Tribe Organic, a Mediterranean-themed restaurant chain in Beijing and Shanghai, to establish a ‘Children’s day’ event to benefit all who were involved.

On the day of the celebration, Tribe held a child-friendly promotion at one of their restaurants which attracted a large quantity of families through the doors to enjoy a variety of games and activities. This allowed CTO to distribute information and summer offers from the Martinhal brand as a more efficient means of targeted marketing. The main attraction of the day was the raffle held in which certain families could win vouchers for a stay at one of Martinhal’s hotels in Portugal.

The event overall was an excellent demonstration of Martinhal’s good will and helped put the name of the brand in more mouths of potential Chinese tourists.


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London North Eastern Railway wins CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award

LNER CTW Award

We are delighted that our clients and friends over at London North Eastern Railway (LNER) won a CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award at ITB China in Shanghai this week for their hard work in the China market.

Tourist Welcome Award

LNER was awarded the Bronze Welcome Award in the Marketing category. The award was presented by COTRI and the Ctrip Institute for Tourism Studies, and handed to LNER’s representative, our PR and Media Manager Angel Deng, by Professor Dr. Wolfgang Arlt.

LNER has undertaken many activities in the past year to boost their presence in the China market. Since setting up its official Weibo account in early 2018, the account has built a following of 40,000 genuine Chinese followers enthusiastic about UK travel and the train company’s high-quality service for its passengers. This was all achieved through organically generated content and joint promotions with partners.

LNER launched promotional campaigns with Beijing Capital Airlines and Hainan Group to find the perfect Chinese KOL to travel up the East Coast of the UK with LNER, as well as Visit Scotland to encourage Chinese tourists to travel up to Scotland with LNER to celebrate Burns Night.

In December 2018, LNER collaborated with influential KOL, Liu Huan (Queenio), on a blogger trip highlighting the many fascinating UK cities along the East Coast to Scotland – including Lincoln, Leeds, York, Harrogate, Durham, Edinburgh and Inverness. The trip received widespread coverage in Queenio’s in-depth travelogue posted to China’s premier review site platforms.

LNER held their successful “Taste of the Train Tour” media workshop in Beijing in March 2019, attended by 40 representatives from Chinese travel agents, operators and travel media.

Considered the most prestigious prize in the Chinese outbound tourism market, COTRI has held the CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Awards annually since 2004. In that time, it has awarded over 100 tourism service providers for their dedication to the China market. Award winners gain widespread exposure each year in international printed and digital publications, and are also published on COTRI’s website and across their digital channels. 

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Integrated Chinese trade and media campaign for London North Eastern Railway

You may remember the incredibly talented KOL and illustrator, Liu Huan (pen name Queenio), from one of our articles last year about her trip to the UK. We were so impressed with her unique travel blogs which are brought to life by her vibrant illustrative style that we invited her to collaborate on a new campaign with London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

The purpose of the project was to highlight to Chinese tourists planning their next trip abroad that there is more to the UK than its iconic capital – our country boasts many fascinating destinations up the East Coast to Scotland, all with their unique charm and history, and the best way to visit them is by train. Huan landed in London and journeyed up the country in first-class luxury, stopping at Lincoln, Leeds, York, Harrogate, Durham, Edinburgh and Inverness, experiencing their essential sights and attractions. She even made it to the Isle of Skye.

The Trip

In addition to LNER, we worked with twelve partners to craft an exciting and eventful nine-day itinerary for Huan, including the tourist boards Visit Lincoln, Visit Leeds, Visit York, Visit Harrogate, Visit County Durham, and Visit Scotland, City Cruises, The London Eye, Holiday Inn Stratford City, Westfield Shopping Centre, Rabbie’s Tours and RHS Harlow Carr Gardens.

During the trip, Huan took hundreds of photographs showcasing each city’s sights and attractions. She adds vivacity to her favourite photographs by illustrating her cartoon persona within the frame, interacting with the environment around her. Cartoon Huan can be seen perched atop the balcony of Leeds Grand Theatre playfully re-enacting ‘The Nutcracker’ performance with her dolls, embracing her inner wizard at Platform 9 ¾, and enjoying the tranquillity of Harrogate’s Turkish Baths.

Following the trip, Huan produced an in-depth travelogue documenting her train journey with LNER and the destinations visited, which is now live on China’s key travel review sites. The blog is brimming with high-quality writing and photography showcasing to Chinese internet users the appeal of the UK’s beautiful countryside and historic cities.

Results

The travelogue, which has been published on Mafengwo, Ctrip, Qyer and Tuniu, has so far received a total of 45,000 views across the four platforms. It has over 650 likes and 470 saves, demonstrating the keen interest among Chinese travellers for UK themed content. Tuniu and Qyer Forum (where Qyer’s travel articles are published) promoted the travelogue to their front pages which greatly increased its exposure, and Qyer tagged the piece as ‘Essential’, recommending it to Chinese internet users as a high-quality article about UK travel. We are expecting the travelogue to continue gaining traction on these platforms as it grows to become a popular and reliable source of information about travel to the UK.

Furthermore, Huan shared her travel experience across 19 social media posts published on her personal WeChat and Weibo accounts where she has 50,000 followers. Many of these posts have received great engagement among Chinese internet users.

The Brochure

Upon her return to China, Huan produced a 24-page Chinese brochure for LNER promoting the services of the train operator and all the destinations and attractions she visited on the trip. This will be distributed at sales calls with media and travel trade in China and at promotional events and trade shows throughout 2019, further expanding the promotion of LNER and its destinations and demonstrating the company’s commitment to the China market. We are also planning to provide the brochure to Chinese tour operators launching LNER products in the future.

Travel Trade and Media Workshop

The brochure was also given to attendees of an LNER workshop held in Beijing and entitled “Taste of the Train Tour”. 30 selected travel agents and operators, and 10 travel media attended the event, held in a trendy café venue in central Beijing. Companies represented included media outlets National Geographic Traveller, Sina.com.cn and Time Out Beijing and tour operators Ctrip, Youpu Travel and GoEuro. Laetitia Beneteau, LNER’s Business Development Manager, introduced LNER’s services to the representatives, and Liu Huan herself came along to deliver a presentation about her experience travelling from London to Scotland. The representatives also enjoyed immersing themselves in the UK by experiencing the scents of different UK’s cities, produced by renowned perfume brand, Charm Kaiser.

Output from the event included 10 pieces of editorial about LNER and its new Azuma trains, which are coming on line this year. Laetitia maximised her time in Beijing on a tailormade sales mission and she was escorted to meetings at the offices of travel trade partners by China Travel Outbound’s team.

The campaign has been posted on LNER’s Weibo account which now boasts over 35,000 followers.

Key Findings from the Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner 2018

During this year’s World Travel Market, we hosted our annual Chinese Tourism Leader’s Dinner in collaboration with Capela China, welcoming an audience of senior travel and tourism professionals representing UK attractions and tourist boards to discuss recent market trends and share success stories about their marketing in China. Guests included representatives from Gatwick Airport, Lake District China Forum, Marketing Manchester, London North Eastern Railway, English Heritage and Experience Oxfordshire.

Once again, we were delighted to welcome Professor Dr Wolfgang Arlt, Director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), who delivered an insightful presentation on key trends to follow and traps to avoid in the Chinese tourism market. Marketing Manager for Royal Museums Greenwich, Amy O’Rourke, presented to guests about the four museums’ journey with the Chinese market and announced 15% of their visitors to the Royal Observatory are now Chinese FIT tourists, up from a figure of 4% when the brand started working with China Travel Outbound.

This article will identify key findings from the dinner that shed light on the emerging opportunities in the Chinese tourism market, and how businesses can take advantage of the market’s growth to attract more Chinese tourists to their destination or attraction.

Chinese border crossings are on the rise

COTRI found that from January-June 2018, 80 million border crossings have been made by Chinese tourists with more than 40 million tourists travelling beyond Greater China – this marks a year-on-year increase of 16%.

Chinese global arrivals will continue to increase rapidly

It is estimated that 160 million Chinese arrivals will be welcomed globally in 2018, with 85 million of these trips made to destinations outside Greater China.

COTRI forecasts by 2030, Chinese travellers will make 390 million outbound trips from Mainland China. This means, in the next decade, half of all additional outbound travellers will be Chinese.

The majority of Chinese people have yet to travel abroad

Since fewer than 10% of Chinese people have passports, the majority of China’s 1.4 billion population have yet to experience an outbound trip outside of China. For those that have travelled, 75% see it as vital to improving their overall happiness and quality of life.

Destinations should value quantity over quality

FIT travellers are becoming increasingly more important to destinations than package tour groups, even if they don’t realise it. While tour groups visit on mass, bringing many people to a destination and thus helping to increase overall visitor numbers, they receive merely a taster of the destination compared to FITs who want to stay longer and spend more to fully experience its authentic sights.

It’s easier than it’s ever been for Chinese tourists to travel abroad

Visa restrictions for Chinese tourists have relaxed in recent years, with most destinations catching on to recent market growth and welcoming them with open arms. Now, 27 destinations allow visa-free entry for Chinese citizens while 39 offer visas on arrival.

Don’t assume the needs of the Chinese tourism market are the same as other markets

It’s important to recognise how different Chinese tourists to other global travellers. Destinations or attractions shouldn’t assume that what works for their visitors coming from Europe, America or Africa, will work for their Chinese visitors. Florida, known for its world-class theme parks and family attractions, only welcomes 3% of the US’s Chinese arrivals.

Recognise the value of your destination

Chinese tourists love the bragging rights that come with visiting luxury destinations. However, these destinations are under pressure from Chinese tour operators who want to make them more accessible by lowering their prices, which can compromise what makes these destinations so attractive for Chinese tourists in the first place. This happened with the Maldives which welcomed 305,000 Chinese arrivals in 2017, down from 365,000 in 2015.

Advice for attractions – stick with the market and improve your ‘China Welcome’

With our guidance, Royal Museums Greenwich pursued a number of on-site activities to welcome more Chinese tourists to their attractions. These include the inclusion of the Mandarin audio guides at the Royal Observatory, which eliminates language barriers to allow Chinese visitors to enjoy one of the world’s top astronomy museums.

In 2016, RMG introduced UnionPay to its Royal Observatory shop to accept payments from Chinese visitors. UnionPay has now been overtaken by WeChat Pay and Alipay which the museum is in the process of adopting this year. Allowing Chinese visitors to pay using their own card, or via mobile payment apps, goes a long way in making an attraction more accessible.

Promoting yourself through a representative in China is vital, as is being patient with the market. Use social media and the power of influential KOLs to promote to the growing FIT consumer, and make sure your brand is properly represented online. Ms O’Rourke told the audience that the Chinese outbound tourism market is a slow one, but one that eventually pays off through dedication and a willingness to adapt your brand to its unique needs.

Thank you to all who attended the dinner and shared their insights on the market.

If you are interested in being involved in one of our Chinese KOL trips, please contact us for a chat.

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The Curious Case of Press Releases

Press releases can be about anything that piques the interest of Chinese audiences, from quirky stories about a light show at Stonehenge, to the unique history of the UK’s most popular heritage sights.

We have recently delivered two very different kinds of press release for English Heritage – one about the flamboyant Kari Kola light show at Stonehenge, and the other about the tiny Myrtle flower and its royal history. The results have been exceptional for both stories.

Our “Stonehenge is illuminated to celebrate UNESCO World Heritage Day” press release detailed Kari Kola’s spectacular light show and its Impact with Light project, which aims to increase awareness of cultural history and global issues such as climate change. The release also gives Chinese audiences an overview of Stonehenge’s history and World Heritage status and offers advice on how to access the attraction.

We were extremely pleased with the coverage this press release received in Chinese media outlets; it featured in seven articles and posts with a total estimated media value of over £37,000. One particular article in Let’s Go Magazine showed the content of the press release in two beautiful double-page spreads – this magazine is distributed on Southern China’s trains and is read by approximately 5,000,000 people. This article’s media value is estimated at £12,000.

Chinese press release for English Heritage

Chinese press release for English Heritage2

Our press release for English Heritage for the Royal Wedding regarded “The mystery of Myrtle – a royal wedding tradition”, exploring the flower’s royal significance, having been introduced into royal wedding bouquets in 1858. The Myrtle itself comes from the gardens of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The release was sent out in May in time for the Royal Wedding, ensuring the best levels of coverage for the story.

The release gained significant traction in China, featuring in seven distinguished articles and posts on Chinese travel websites and influential social media accounts, with a total estimated media value of £15,900.

English Heritage press release report

Once the clippings are received, we compile screenshots of the articles and posts and media value figures into a report for our clients to evidence their success (see right).

Press releases are a great way to reach and grab the attention of Chinese audiences and help them understand your brand. When you are entering the Chinese market, releases can be a great way to show your commitment to China. They are also an effective channel as editorial coverage can be purchased for guaranteed space.

If you are interested in a press campaign in China, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at: 01273 262700, or drop us an email at [email protected].

Introducing Kew Gardens to the Chinese Travel Trade

sales mission for kew gardenChina Travel Outbound’s sales missions are tailored to individual clients to ensure the meetings have the potential to encourage future sales calls, and further develop the client’s presence in the Chinese travel and tourism market. Our clients are privately transported and accompanied to each pre-qualified meeting by our Beijing team, who also provide English interpretation and translation throughout the visit.

We work with our clients throughout the entire process to ensure their visit is convenient and hassle-free. From assisting them with their letter of introduction needed to obtain a Chinese visa, to translating sales presentations and printing Chinese business cards, our Beijing team go the extra mile to make sure our clients get the most out of their visit.sales mission for kew garden

It was our pleasure to host Daryl Bennett from Kew Gardens on a sales mission to Beijing in March 2018. We organised a number of meetings with key tour operators with potential to sell the Kew Gardens product, including Caissa Touristic, Ctrip, and Sparkle Tour (see above).

“The trip was great and Vivienne couldn’t have been more helpful” – Daryl Bennett, Travel Trade Sales and Marketing Manager

Following the mission, Kew Gardens received a full report with contact details and learnings from each meeting, and action points for follow-up.

The client praised the help he received from our Beijing team, led by Vivienne Song, in making the sales mission beneficial and valuable. As a result of the meetings, Kew Gardens gained more of an idea of the events and attractions that are of most interest to the Chinese tourism market, and the different kinds of promotional images to use to maximise publicity.

If you would like to find out more about sales missions and how they could help your organisation develop within the Chinese market, please contact us for a chat.

Seven UKinbound members collaborate successfully on Chinese press trip

UKinbound member, China Travel Outbound, has successfully collaborated on a major Chinese press trip with six other members of the association. In early 2018, we started conversations with our contacts at National Geographic Traveller Magazine China about visiting the UK to write a 14-page feature to coincide with the forthcoming Royal Wedding.

The senior writer at Nat Geo is Mr Han, a fan of art history and of the UK. We embarked on a project to bring Mr Han, a videographer, and photographer, and Sarah our Chinese PR Director, over to England to write a feature about Royal Britain.

The team went on from London to Dover to see the grandiose White Cliffs and Dover Castle, England’s largest castle. The trip concluded with three nights in Brighton, organised in collaboration with VisitBrighton. Here, they visited the party palace of another prince – the Royal Pavilion, went to a pub, saw the Seven Sisters, and even stayed out til the wee hours at the student night at one of the seafront clubs.

We organised exclusive interviews with the museum curators, directors and historical experts to ensure that the resulting feature was full of colour and engaging stories about Britain’s royal heritage.

National Geo magazine press article

Results

The article hit the newsstands before the Royal Wedding and the associated social media was released on the happy day. With so many partners involved, this was a complex press trip to organise, but the results made it all worthwhile. The feature ran to 22 pages with an overall value of £737,000.

The magazine receives a circulation of 977,000 copies per month, and has a readership of 2,931,000.

Social Media

National Geo magazine press trip Weibo post

The trip received fantastic coverage on National Geographic Traveler China’s official WeChat and Weibo accounts. WeChat has over 1 billion active monthly users, and at the time of writing, the National Geographic Traveler Weibo account has 630,000+ followers. Evidently, these posts had huge potential reach.

Video Coverage

The videographer’s beautiful work is showcased in a video of the trip, which featured on various mainstream Chinese video websites under official National Geographic Traveler accounts, including Tencent, Tudou, and Youku.

See the video below:

We were delighted with the results of this project, and it was great to see it all come together to promote Britain in such a prestigious title.

Click here to view the National Geographic Traveler Magazine China Royal Britain feature.