Why China should be on your 2016 priority list.

With the sustainable growth of China’s economy, a gradually relaxing political climate, as well as the substantial increase in its people’s personal income, China’s tourism industry has seen unprecedented development in recent years.

Despite recent concerns over China’s economic situation, this year around 136 million international passenger journeys – the most in the world – are expected to originate in China, with an expected 234 million in 2020.

Brands are advised to revise their international marketing plans for Chinese tourists, who are projected to spend $229 billion (£156.13 billion) on retail overseas this year and $422 billion (£301.36 billion) by 2020.

“The Chinese consumer has emerged as the most powerful and motivated in the world, especially in the luxury sector,” reports Deborah Weinswig, head of the Global Retail and Technology team of Fung Business Intelligence Centre.

The typical Chinese traveller currently spends an average of $1,678 (£1,144) on retail purchases per overseas trip, the highest retail spend of any nationality. In the U.S, the average retail spend per Chinese traveller was around $2,555 (£1,741) for 2014, and in Europe was $2,548 (£1,737); significantly more than was spent in closer destinations within Asia.

Record visitors to Britain!

The number of Chinese visitors to Britain in the first half of 2015 reached a record 90,000, a 28 percent rise on the same period of 2014, figures from Visit Britainreveal.

Tourism officials are expecting the total number of Chinese visitors for this year to exceed 200,000, with that figure set to increase in subsequent years. Now is the time to invest in China!

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2016 Trends in outbound Chinese tourism

According to the China Tourism Research Institute, 2015 saw an incredible 61.90 million outbound visitors from China in just the first half of the year, that’s 12.1% more than during the same period in 2014.

And, surveys conducted by travel agencies all around China predict that outbound tourism is set to rise further still in 2016, despite fears of an economic crash. In fact, it is expected that outbound tourism will see a substantial increase as a result of circumstances effecting Chinese travel. To begin with, more convenient visa policies for Chinese nationals is set to have a huge impact. From this year, new visitor visas for tourists from China will be valid in the UK for two years, which is great news for both the British economy and tourism markets. source

The operation of mChina-e-passport_gallery_display-274x300ore international flights could also offer residents from smaller cities the chance to travel abroad conveniently. The Chinese middle class’s growing ability to afford international travel has seen an ever increasing number of flights leaving from 2nd and 3rd mainland cities. This year, American Airlines is launching a new flight from Xi’an to San Francisco, the first international flight to be launched from the city.

In addition, with the implement of “One Belt and One Road” strategy last year, China’s outbound tourism market is endowed with more opportunities. Proposed by the Chinese government, this strategy encourages connectivity and cooperation among primarily Eurasian countries consisting of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” including Central and Eastern Europe, and the “Maritime Silk Road”, a conduit for trade and cultural exchange between China’s south-eastern coastal areas and foreign countries. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, as opposed to the country’s long-held reputation as a parochial state.

All of these factors point towards 2016 being the best year yet for outbound Chinese tourism!

If you’d like some help with ideas for your 2016 China marketing strategy, we’re here to help. Contact Helena at [email protected]

 

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Is Christmas Celebrated in China?

We all know the importance of Chinese New Year but what happens in China at Christmas time?

Since the Christian population of mainland China is only 1%, you could be forgiven for assuming that Christmas goes largely unnoticed. However, that’s not entirely the case. Although Christmas Day is not a public or religious holiday in mainland China, in Chinese cities and urban populations there are signs of celebration. Shopping centres in particular are decorated with the usual Christmas lights and trees, while banks, offices and shops will often also get into the festive spirit with decorations. On Christmas Eve, it is not uncommon for friends to get together for a small celebration, perhaps a meal together. But given that offices and businesses are open the following day, these are generally low key. Gifts are rarely exchanged except among Christian families, although this practice is gradually becoming much more popular amongst younger Chinese people.

In the travel industry, the tour operators and travel agents will be open on Christmas Day and there are no public holidays during December. Christmas is not a peak period for outbound travel, although airfares are high as the hundreds of thousands of Chinese working or studying overseas in Europe and America return home, taking advantage of the Western holiday period.

Chinese New Year is a completely different story, and the peak booking period in China is the run-up to this national day and week of festivities, traditions, and gift-sharing. The Lunar New Year will be on Monday 8th February 2016 and we will be welcoming in the Year of the Monkey with a week-long celebration. This is China’s peak travel time (along with the summer holidays and Golden Week in October).

If you were hoping to visit any travel agents for meetings or sales missions in early 2016, we recommend you wait until Chinese New Year is well out of the way. The agents will not be open to meetings in the run up to Chinese New Year as they are too busy taking bookings, and too preoccupied planning their own celebrations.

China Travel Outbound will be running a series of sales missions in 2016. If you would like to register your interest in joining us, please contact us for details.

 

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Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day) April 2-4

“Xin Nian Kuai Le” to all of our friends this Chinese New Year!

Social Media marketing in China – where to begin

Where do you start?  Well, not with Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, which are all banned in China!  But before you remove   “write Chinese social media plan” from your ‘to do’ list, you might want to pause and read on a little; social media marketing is more critical in China than in any other market in the world. Here’s why:

1. Social media is huge in China!
China is the most active social media market in the world with over 500 million having a social media account (and the vast majority of these having more than one supplier).

2. Social media is a key source for decision making in China
In a market where many are sceptical of institutional messages, peer-led social media comment is a huge opinion shaper. According to the German Consultancy company Z Punkt,  48% of Chinese consumers are using social media in their travel planning.  

3. Chinese actively use social media to ‘interact’ with brands
66% of Chinese social media “interact” with brands (Insites Consulting) and  61% of Chinese would write about positive experiences and 53% about negative  experiences; this compares with 36% and 29% with Americans (Edelman Digital).
social media in ChinaSo, with Facebook and Twitter out of the picture, just who are the social media players in China? Unlike the west,  China’s social-media sector is fragmented and regional.  All the key players share some characteristics of their western counterparts, though they are often hybrids of the same.
In microblogging (or weibo), for example,  Sina Weibo and Tencent Qzone are the closest equivalents to Twitter.  The instant messaging market is increasingly dominated by Wechat, who have rapidly grown in recent years at the expense of Renren.  However Renren continue to play a big role in the field of mobile communication and private social networking apps, particularly amongst the student population.  Finally, in the video sharing market, Youku and Tudou are the closest equivalent to YouTube.

Competition in this market is ferocious with the ground is constantly shifting. For marketeers, the fragmentation increases the complexity of the social media landscape, but the basic rules of social media marketing in the west hold true in China.  However, you will need partners on the ground in China to help guide you, and provide real time responses to your customers.

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Kathy, Vivienne and Lily from the CTO team in Beijing,

At China Travel Outbound, we can help you with your Chinese social media strategy and implement and manage your Chinese social media accounts on your behalf.  We will communicate in real time, in a tone appropriate both to your brand and to your customer base in China, with regular posts, tweets and updates.  We can provide you with recommendations on promotions and competitions, create video and write copy on your behalf.  At our monthly account management meetings, we will provide you with an overview of how your brand is performing in China as a result of our activity on your behalf.

 

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Five tips for using PR to build your travel brand in China

With a population of 1.3 billion, and a land mass approximately the size of Europe, marketing your travel brand efficiently in China can be a daunting task. This is where a targeted, well executed PR strategy as part of a wider marketing plan comes to the fore. At China Travel Outbound we would love to help you devise your PR strategy, but to kick things off, we have listed below four practical things you might like to think about, followed by a shameless plug!

1. Regional variations in the Chinese press
In Beijing, state owned media is very powerful, but outside the capital private media companies have an important voice. Make sure your PR strategy stretches across both different ownership models and takes into account the regional variations across Chinese ‘tier one’ cities. As in the west, there are different travel publications with journalists specialising in leisure, business, meetings and incentive travel; you, or your Chinese PR agency, should target relationships with travel journalists accordingly.

2. Think digital media
If you ride the Beijing subway, you will see very few commuters reading traditional print media, but you will see plenty of eyes glued to screens. Importantly this doesn’t just apply to newspapers but to magazines as well. The Chinese are more advanced than the west in their adoption of online media.

3. Integrate social media
Use Chinese social media (not Facebook or Twitter which are blocked) to provide a regular drip of newsworthy items to keep your brand top of mind. Social media plays a more important role in travel choice than in the west, with travellers very ready to follow recommendation from friends, family bloggers and other online influencers. Bragging rights are also an important dynamic which shouldn’t be ignored – particularly if your product has appeal to high net worth Chinese travellers. Speak to us about which are the right social media for your product.

4. The power of Chinese celebrity
If you have the budget, celebrity endorsement of your product is a great way to instantly get your brand profile. China Travel Outbound has a great network of Chinese movie stars and other celebrities and we would be delighted to talk to you about who might be a good match for your product.

5. The Shameless Plug!
As you might have guessed, we have PR travel specialists in China waiting to help you. Meet Kathy Chen, our Director of PR. Kathy is a former travel journalist, who also has ‘client side’ experience, having joined China Travel Outbound from Tourism Ireland. Kathy therefore has a wealth of knowledge on the Chinese travel PR scene and a smart phone brimming with contact details of Chinese travel journalists.

Kathy Chen, our PR Director - based in our Beijing office
Kathy Chen, our PR Director – based in our Beijing office

For more information of how China Travel Outbound can help you with your Chinese PR strategy (or any other marketing and representation matter), please contact [email protected]

Establishing a sales and marketing presence in China

A quick google search on the Chinese outbound traveller will produce a plethora of reports on the size and nature of this new emerging market.

The reason for this explosion of interest is not surprising. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Chinese are now the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism, splashing out $102 billion in 2012—a 40% increase on the previous year.

Dig a little deeper and you will find some interesting myth busting facts too. Yes, the Chinese are big spenders. According to Visit Britain the Chinese are among the top three spenders when they visit Britain, spending an average of £405 per head. But did you know that Independent travel is more popular than group travel? According to Hotels.com’s second annual Chinese International Travel Monitor survey results suggests that 62% of Chinese travellers prefer to travel independently. This appears to be backed up by hoteliers who reported that 70% of their Chinese guests were not in groups, a 20% increase on the previous year.

So which ever report you read (and I warn you there are quite a few to choose from!) the evidence is clear. The challenge is how do you react to this rapidly emerging market? Perhaps you are wondering why your competitors appear to more effective than you in tapping into this market, there are 5 areas that I suggest you start to think about:

1. Is your website available in the Chinese language? Don’t worry about the difference
between Cantonese and Mandarin, the written form of Cantonese is based on Mandarin, so a Mandarin translation will suffice. It’s in audio where you will need to have a separate translation.

2. How is your website ranked on China’s premier search engine Baidu.com? If your website is only available in English, the answer is probably not very well.

3. What is your social media presence like in China? If you think Facebook and Twitter will do it for you, I am afraid you will need to think again…., these sites are heavily restricted in China.

4. Do you have a PR agency to ensure that the media, and in particular the travel trade media, are promoting your products and services into the Chinese market?

5. Do you have a sales representation team ready to promote you to the travel trade? There are 10 different travel trade shows in China alone. There is a very good chance your competitors are there, and if they’re not, there’s a great chance for you to steal a march on them.

Perhaps you have already thought about all the above (and could add a further five items to this list!) but you don’t know where to start. China Travel Outbound would love to help you.

 

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Tailored Luxury Sales Mission to China

I recently joined one of my clients on a sales mission to China to visit some potential tour operator partners who specialise in tailor-made itineraries for their wealthy Chinese customer base.  My client’s product is aimed at such individuals (though not yet in China) with a taste for accommodation outside the traditional luxury 5* hotel, usually involving a minimum of 3 nights.  The attraction of China is that, according to the Boston Consulting Group,  it had 2.4m millionaires in 2013, a rise of 81% on the previous year, and now places it second in the overall global league table of the mega wealthy.

But the rise of the independent Chinese traveller is still a relatively new phenomenon, so the purpose of the mission was to establish whether the Chinese market has matured to such an extent that there is appeal for such a product, and if so how it will need to be adapted to meet the needs of the Chinese market.

There is a danger in the west that we over generalise about the Chinese market.  China is about the size of Europe; we should regard the Chinese as similarly diverse across their 9.7m square kilometres.  We shouldn’t therefore have been surprised to find that the tour operators we visited represented a diverse customer base, despite the fact that they work with a universally rich customer base.

We visited eight tour operators over 3 days and we were universally welcomed with hospitality (and a glass of hotel water) by senior members of staff – usually 2 or 3 in number.  Of the 25 people we met, approximately half had good English. With the others, we were helped by the translation services of our Account Director who accompanied us on all our visits.

  • Of the 8 tour operators visited, only 2 felt that their customer base was so wedded to the top Western hotel brands, that there was no immediate opportunity for my client’s product.
  • All were fairly universal in their view that it is necessary to deploy Chinese support staff on the ground.
  • Similarly, deploying Chinese sales staff at reservation centres is also key.
  • Interestingly, most believed their sales team could cope with an English booking system, though a couple of demonstrations of the speed of access from a European hosted website illustrated that hosting your booking system in China is more critical. We had more success with a more basic, less dynamic website, but you may wish to consider including Chinese website-hosting in your budget if you are planning on entering the Chinese market.
  • Despite all the tour operators offering tailor made itineraries for their clients, some wanted my client, who only sells accommodation, to build product around the accommodation.

So, was the mission a success?   Undoubtedly yes! My client left China confident that there is demand for his product, but also clear that launching in China will require a commitment that goes well beyond paying my company a fee for a sales mission.  He recognises that he has just taken the first step and that ‘potential’ will not turn into ‘contracts’ without follow-up and important decisions on deployment of resource both at destination and in China.

China Travel Outbound can organise a similar tailored sales mission for you from £2,500.  We will create an itinerary for you over 3 days, making appointments with tour operators tailored to your product.  In addition, we’ll take care of the small detail that will help to make your sales mission a success, such as providing an introduction to your company in Chinese, and printing your business cards in Chinese, complete with your new Chinese name!  During your sales mission, you will be accompanied to all your meetings by one of our team from our Beijing office, who will also act as your guide and host during your trip.  Beijing isn’t the easiest city to navigate around, so we will arrange a private car to pick you up from your hotel each morning and drive you to all your meetings.  We will even pick you up and drop you off at the airport at the beginning and end of your trip.

For more information, please contact Helena Beard.

China Travel Outbound takes the stress out of sales missions for the travel industry

China Travel Outbound today announced a new initiative to help travel and tourism customers explore the potential in the outbound international Chinese market.

CTO is offering customers a 3 day exclusive sales mission to China this year, visiting up to six targeted tour operators and travel agents who have the potential to form partnerships with western travel and tourism businesses.

CTO will make appointments with hand-picked travel partners in China, carefully selected on the basis of their relevance and potential for the product in question.  We will take care of all mission logistics, including the provision of a Chinese travel industry expert, who will act as a translator and advisor for all meetings.  With business cards playing such an important role in Chinese business meeting etiquette, we will organise a complimentary print of business cards, with the customer’s name and title translated into Chinese.  In addition, CTO will provide customers with an overview of their product translated into Chinese, for the purpose of providing meeting leave-behind material.

Adrian Watts, Managing Director  and co-owner of China Travel Outbound commented: “Visiting China can feel a little daunting for the uninitiated, but our sales missions are designed to put customers completely at their ease.  We have thought about the small detail of such trips, from organising visa invitation letters, through to the printing of business cards and the transport arrangement between meetings.  Unlike more generic sales missions, our meetings will be an exclusive, one on one discussion with potential Chinese partners.  Using our excellent contacts within the Chinese travel industry we will source Chinese companies best suited to distribute the customer’s product.”

Sports packages specialist Champions Travel recently undertook such a sales mission to Beijing with CTO. Kevin Ward, Managing Director commented: “This was arranged from start to finish via China Travel Outbound.  The service was second to none and the staff were extremely helpful both in the UK and on the ground in Beijing. I cannot recommend enough how helpful and professional they both were leading up to and during the trip.  We hope to use the service again soon.”

 

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Translation Tips for the Chinese market

If you have a visitor guide, a website, an audio guide or any kind of signage in your attraction, you are probably thinking about whether you should be translating it for the Chinese market. The answer to that question is an overwhelming ‘yes’. Your visitors will expect it and the tour operators considering your hotel or attraction for inclusion on their tours will be influenced by the availability of translations.

But which languages do you need? And are there different needs depending on the medium? Here is our quick guide to translating for the Chinese visitor.

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in China and has more native speakers than any other language in the world. It is a simplified version of traditional Chinese and is the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). It can also be referred to as ‘Chinese’.

Some consider Mandarin a dialect rather than a language, as it varies so much across China, but the Mandarin you need to worry about is the version spoken in Beijing. That is the standard you will receive if you ask us for a translation into Mandarin.

However, Mandarin is not spoken in Hong Kong or Macau. In these areas, people speak Cantonese which is also the language widely spoken in the Canton region of China, around Guangzhou.

So that’s fine. Translate into Mandarin and Cantonese and you’re covered, right? Wrong.

Someone who speaks Mandarin will not necessarily be able to understand someone speaking Cantonese. But if you write the words down, they are more or less the same. Just a few minor differences.

The differences are that, in China, the written version of Mandarin is used. In Hong Kong, Macau and Southern China, a more traditional written version is used. (Just to further complicate things, in Taiwan, where Mandarin is spoken, the written language is also the more traditional form.) But, written down, both languages can be understood (more or less) by everyone.

So, where does this leave you? Well, for the spoken word, you should translate into both Mandarin and Cantonese. For the written word, you definitely need Mandarin and, if your budget will allow it, you could also translate into traditional Chinese. This will work in your favour if you want to impress visitors from Southern China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

For a quote on translation services from China Travel Outbound please contact Helena Beard at [email protected]

 

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Bitesize China Facts

The Chinese outbound traveller

A quick google search on the Chinese outbound traveller will produce a plethora of reports on the size and nature of this new emerging market.

The reason for this explosion of interest is not surprising.  According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the Chinese are now the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism,   splashing out $102 billion in 2012—a 40% increase on the previous year.

Dig a little deeper and you will find some interesting myth busting facts too.  Yes, the Chinese are big spenders.  According to Visit Britain the Chinese are among the top three spenders when they visit Britain, spending an average of £405 per head.  But did you know that Independent travel is more popular than group travel? According to Hotels.com’s second annual Chinese International Travel Monitor survey results suggests that 62% of Chinese travellers prefer to travel independently.  This appears to be backed up by hoteliers who reported that 70% of their Chinese guests were not in groups, a 20% increase on the previous year.

So which ever report you read (and  I warn you there are quite a few to choose from!)  the evidence is clear.  The challenge is how do you react to this rapidly emerging market?  Perhaps you are wondering why your competitors appear to more effective than you in tapping into this market, there are 5 areas that I suggest you start to think about:

1. Is your website available in the Chinese language?  Don’t worry about the difference
between Cantonese and Mandarin, the two different dialects share the same written form.

2. How is your website ranked on China’s premier search engine Baidu.com?  If your website is only available in English, the answer is probably not very well.

3. What is your social media presence like in China?  If you think Facebook and Twitter will do it for you, I am afraid you will need to think again…., these sites are heavily restricted in China.  The closest equivalents are called Renren and Weibo.

4. Do you have a PR agency to ensure that the media, and in particular the travel trade media, are promoting your products and services into the Chinese market?

5. Do you have a sales representation team ready to promote you to the travel trade?  There are 10 different travel trade shows in China alone.  There is a very good chance your competitors are there, and if they’re not, there’s a great chance for you to steal a march on them.

Perhaps you have already thought about all the above (and could add a further five items to this list!)  but you don’t know where to start.  China Travel Outbound would love to help you.

For more information or a quote, please contact Helena Beard at [email protected]

 

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