The health emergency linked to the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily stopped the flow of travellers from China to Italy.In 2019, there were a record number of 6 million Chinese tourists arriving in Italy. After the recent reopening of air routes it is important to understand how to attract and dialogue with the (new) Chinese travellers returning after the lockdown by developing effective communication and marketing strategies.
The new generations of tourists like to live unique experiences, tailor-made for them and their interests. Being tech-savvy constantly connected to the digital world they expect to be reached, involved and supported through digital channels appropriate to them. Here is a practical guide to understand what should be done to meet their needs.
Develop a presence on WeChat
The most popular tool for Chinese messaging (1.1 billion monthly active users) is much more than a mere chat app. On WeChat it is possible to provide support at any time of the day or night, promote products and services, entertain the user with exclusive content as well as open pop-up stores.
It is the perfect platform for organising users’ daily activities and capable of opening the doors to the millennials: 80% of Chinese tourists born after 1985 consult WeChat for information on their destinations, while 87% use it while travelling to talk to friends and contacts.
An effective branding activity for conquering Chinese travellers cannot ignore the importance of developing a constant presence on WeChat, the ideal channel for anyone operating in the Ho.Re.Ca. sector, but also for museums, art centres, tourist attractions.
Don’t forget about Weibo
China’s Weibo microblogging website is perfect for highlighting the opportunities and context ‒ exclusive locations, entertainment, history and culture ‒ that await Chinese tourists in Italy. There are about 490 million Chinese internet users on Weibo every month and the engagement level guaranteed by the platform is particularly high.
In 2019 millions of posts were written about travel and cultural experiences abroad, read and reviewed more than 1.6 billion times.Not exploiting at least part of this huge potential showcase would be an unforgivable mistake. Pacing yourself with good ideas and a Weibo account is therefore an essential requirement for anyone operating in the tourism sector and wanting to attract the Chinese public.
RED was developed as an application dedicated to those who shop on the go, but over time it has become a container of ideas and suggestions for experiences not only for tourists but also for the purchase of particularly original products and the promotion of brands from everywhere.
With more than 300 million active users, today it is still the digital meeting place for many travellers and the ideal space for collaborating with local influencers, capable of narrating their adventures in Italy and bringing hotels, restaurants, shops and various attractions to the attention of the public.
Consider Ctrip and Fliggy
Traditional Chinese travel agencies have been almost completely replaced by Ctrip and Fliggy, online platforms offering a comprehensive range of flights, accommodations and leisure and business travel from China to foreign countries.
On Ctrip.com it is possible to book overseas hotels from over the 800 thousand present, entire tours or tickets for all types of transport (over 8 million flights per year all over the world), organising every aspect at its best.Being extremely popular among locals, the platform is often tagged by travelling influencers, capable of exposing brands to a very large and target audience.
Fliggy is Alibaba’s online platform dedicated to travellers. Its e-commerce portal, perfectly integrated into an app for smartphones and visited daily by more than 10 million users, provides direct access to a wide range of flights, hotels, trains and tourist venues and allows registered brands to open their showcase window, sell directly to users and collect data for any advertising or marketing purposes.
Both are virtual places to be carefully monitored so as not to lose sight of the commercial potential of Chinese tourists intending to visit Italy.
Learn about Qunar
In China there is a meta search engine specialised in providing information on travel and tourism called Qunar. It boasts about 220 million users and allows to find everything imaginable on destinations, attractions, experiences and accommodations, with the possibility of making practical comparisons among the different results.
Qunar, which represents 22% of China’s online travel market, is based on an algorithm that uses precise defined logics and techniques: understanding its operation will help you land on the front pages for the most useful searches for your business, generating valuable traffic and bringing new potential customers on all your active digital channels.
Creating a virtuous circle of quality information, capable of developing relationships and channelling Chinese travellers from one platform to another while securing your online position and increasing the chances that they will buy your service, is the prime objective to strive for to win over the Chinese public that sees in Italy the ideal destination for an unforgettable trip.It is about making the most of the digital tools at our disposal for building a perfect multi-channel strategy essential for being successful in this marketplace.