China is a big market, which should come as no surprise to anyone even somewhat familiar with their famously large population. While historically few Chinese families were able to afford travel to luxury or overseas destinations, that is changing. The growing middle class can afford these trips now. And not only that, they are eager to see the world.
So what can you do to get that RMB in your wallet? First you need to understand that the Chinese market is not like Western markets. You need to adjust your strategies. With over a billion people, it’s worth your time to make these adjustments and court these travelers. Scotland has done a great job of attracting Chinese tourists, and you can too!
One way to break into the Chinese market is through the app WeChat, which has over a billion users each month. It is uncommon in the West, but most Chinese people use it daily. Those numbers may seem abstract and hard to comprehend, so let me put it another way: Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, is now the most valuable social media company in the world. They’re richer than Facebook. And remember that Facebook is more than just Facebook — it also includes Instagram and WhatsApp. So you could say that WeChat is kind of important for marketing today.
Why WeChat? Why don’t you just amp up your marketing budget and set targets for China? Well, those billion monthly users aren’t spreading themselves over multiple social media networks the way many Westerners do. For many Chinese people, it’s WeChat or nothing. You’re either there, or you miss them completely.
This app has completely taken over China. It’s like Facebook meets text message meets Venmo meets Uber meets nearly any other app you can think of. If your company isn’t on WeChat, it isn’t in China. To bring in more Chinese customers, you need to target China specifically. WeChat is how you do that.
WeChat offers a variety of ways to market to their customers, and many of these options work regardless of which type of tours you offer. You can combine them and do as much or as little as you’d like.
WeChat official account
Think of this as the Facebook page of WeChat. You can post updates and engage your customers here. When they follow you, they’ll be notified of your updates. This is an easy and free way to get started. There are different types of accounts, and there are some restrictions, so take your time deciding which type is right for you before jumping in.
Make it easy for your Chinese customers to pay you by accepting WeChat Pay. You can use a number of different currencies, and many Chinese tourists prefer to use it over cash or credit cards. They use it frequently in China, and trying to learn a new currency or adjust to new methods of payment for travel is difficult. Allowing them to keep their familiar method of payment is attractive and may mean a sale for you instead of your competitors.
You must have seen a viral exchange between an angry customer and the company that wronged them. Why do customers make it so public? Because they hate making phone calls, it takes days to hear back from an email, and they’re on social media all day anyway. Giving your customers an easy way to talk to you, in their preferred method of communication, can keep those conversations private.
These allow users to interact with an app for your company within the WeChat app. There’s no need for them to download anything more nor do you have to build for Android and iPhone compatibility (but you should. Why build an app and not share it with everyone?). While it’s an exciting advancement, you likely won’t need this feature, and it could be difficult to find an app that is worth the investment to build. That being said, if you figure out how a cool app could be useful to your company, you’ll probably be the first (or at least among the first) in your industry to capture those eyes.
This should be familiar to most of you. WeChat allows you to target who sees your ad, so you’re spending your ad money on the people most likely to book with you, not a random sampling of all billion users. Think about what you’re doing for social media in your home country. Now post that to WeChat too.
Show me a tour company that can’t benefit from using videos, and I’ll show you a liar. Videos are one of the best ways to show any tour. Rafting tours? Record your customers going through exciting rapids. City tours? Do a sped-up version of your route to give them a taste. Food tours? Show how much fun your customers have and the delighted looks on their faces as they take that first bite.
That all sounds really overwhelming. That’s okay! Take it one step at a time. Download the app and have a look around before jumping in and starting marketing to Chinese tourists. Once you’ve settled in you can try some of the tips above. Then look at this guide for even more great ideas for entering the Chinese market.
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