The Chinese overseas tourist market is huge. At the start of 2015 there were over 100 million outbound Chinese tourists. The BBC reported that the Chinese have become the single greatest source of global tourism income after spending $102bn (£67bn; 79bn euros) while travelling abroad in 2012. With an expanding Chinese middle class with a higher disposable income this spending is only set to increase.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to know how to market your hotel cleverly and effectively to the Chinese tourist to capitalize upon this trend. With ecommerce growing and 60% of people making hotel bookings online digital marketing is the key to your success.
HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE ON SEARCH ENGINES
Firstly the Chinese consumer will use search engines in China (notably Baidu) to look for hotels. It is vital that you are one of the top hotels listed in the search results. Optimizing your status and presence on Baidu and other Chinese search engines is the first step.
MANAGE YOUR E-REPUTATION
The Chinese consumer prioritises feedback and reviews in forums much higher than the consumer in the west does. After finding a selection of hotels people will often spend much time considering the reviews. In China user reviews and ratings on forums are key. You must manage your reputation and what people are saying, positive reviews and comments from others links directly to more bookings.
MARKET EFFECTIVELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media has become a key target for marketers with the highest internet penetration rate (45%) in the world. There are an astonishing 634 million internet users in China(Tnooz).
The Chinese are particularly influenced by their immediate social circle and family, engaging with potential customers on social networks is therefore vital.
You should be disseminating content and offers/promotions concerning your hotel. Featuring visitors pictures and comments is also effective as it incorporates customers directly. Interesting articles and content should be produced and shared to stimulate interest.
Having a strong presence on social networks increases the chances of your hotel being shared amongst users social networks. The Chinese trust their friendship circle and family and are very influenced by others recommendations, experiences and opinions.
Weibo : Weibo is a micro-blogging platform which works in essentially the same way as the American ‘Twitter’. Users can exchange any type of content with their friends. With 500 million registered accounts it is the key social network to be engaging with if you are attempting to enter the Chinese market. Weibo is the place to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s popular in China. It’s a very ‘open’ social network and is therefore very effective for marketers.
Wechat : Customers can add and subscribe to your brand account using QR codes to spread news about the hotel. Once customers are following your account you can promote special discounts or content exclusively for subscribers.
HAVE QUALITY PHOTOGRAPHS
Potential customers will spend a lot of time checking images of the hotel, the Chinese seek an authentic experience of the country and culture they are visiting. They want something different so a clear sense of the hotel’s identity should be communicated through a consistent set of photographs, a similar style and theme looks professional and reinforces your ‘brand’.
An image shared that is striking and which communicates the style of the hotel is especially effective as customers often share their hotel bookings on social media, word of mouth is vital in China, recommendations from friends are the most powerful form of marketing. Capitalize on this by editing and creating stylized images that capture the place and culture people are visiting.
CREATE A ‘NARRATIVE’ AND SHAREABLE CONTENT
Sharable content about your hotel can be very effective with the rise of Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter) and Wechat. Look to create interesting content, articles and stories. Create a narrative surrounding the hotel’s name, identity and style. Tourists are looking to escape from the ordinary and mundane so be imaginative. Romantic, love stories are often popular amongst the Chinese.
CUSTOMERS WILL BE SEEKING A PRESTIGIOUS HOTEL, MAXIMISE POSITIVE NEWS
It would be very effective to generate newsworthy content about your hotel. With the rise of a increasingly affluent middle class in China many are looking for a more luxurious, prestigious hotel. Market your hotel as such an experience and aim to maximise and create positive news stories that reinforce such a brand image.
UTILIZE KEY OPINION LEADERS
These are the influential opinion leaders who shape views and opinions, people see them as experts on particular subjects. These type of celebrities or on-line personalities are especially popular in China. They have successfully gathered large communities of people around them. Different demographics can be targeted on social media via these key opinion leaders.
The benefit of this trend is that a ‘KOL’ can be recruited by your hotel and become instrumental in spreading a positive message. In this way you can benefit from the KOL’s large online community and reach thousands or even millions of potential consumers in one go. Look for endorsements from celebrities who have visited.
PARTNER WITH CHINESE TRAVEL AGENCIES
Partnering with local, Chinese agencies who specialize in this market and have established connections is key. The vast majority of tourists will make bookings through these travel agencies online. Your online campaign has to be effective, coherent and far reaching.
Agencies take care of Chinese tourists and can offer hotel packages in addition to flights and tours. Agencies will often organize ‘group’ travel. For your hotel this is beneficial as it is likely to increase the number of potential guests. According to a report by the national tourism agency in China, 70% of Chinese people travel through agency organized groups.
Agencies can be generally hard to find, they have specific requirements and may already be working with contractors for many years. Having a strong digital media marketing campaign is important to enhance your reputation.
– Build connections with agencies so that your hotel is highly recommended or included in a package.
– Offer promotions and discounts. People will be seeking offers with discounted prices on rooms. Provide ‘group’ offers.
Due to tourists predominantly searching for information and booking holidays online one must understand the digital market and have close connections in China that enable the implementation of a marketing strategy. We are a business and legal consulting firm with a digital agency and have with a unique and specialist understanding of what the Chinese tourist is looking for.
Please contact us for any advice.