In 2013, China was the main source of tourists, with 98 million Chinese traveling around the world. A figure that is expected to double by 2020 according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. Spending by these tourists is expected to triple, while it is already impressive since it amounted to 129 billion dollars in 2013. This year the Chinese tourism academy has also estimated up to 155 billion dollars spent by Chinese tourists abroad…
Chinese tourists have a particularity, however, they are hyper –connected:
More than 618 million Chinese people are connected to the Internet. Most are even permanently there thanks to the various means at their disposal such as their phones, tablets and computers. So it’s very easy for them to quickly access the information they’re looking for. Before a trip, they therefore look for a lot of information to choose their destination, hotel, airline, tourist places to visit …
The search engine mainly used by Chinese people to search for information on their trip is Baidu. It is the leader in China with more than 81% market share in this sector. It also has its own research site specially dedicated to travel: BaiduLuyou.
48% of Chinese tourists use online travel and hotel booking sites to find information, compared to 47% of travel agency users, Hotels.com study finds. . Tourists who use specialized online sites are 13% trusting them, against only 10% trusting information taken from travel agencies by the users of their services.
The vast majority of these Internet users spend a lot of time on Chinese social networks. So much so that 90% of them have at least one account on a social network.
The most popular are: Weibo, Wechat and QQ. All of these platforms have millions of very active users for posting information. This makes control difficult for the Chinese authorities. This is why Chinese people tend to trust information from social media more than that from official sources. So one of their reflexes to look for information is also to go on social networks. According to the Hotels.com study, 33% of tourists seek information there before their trip.
For tourism players, it is therefore interesting to know the social media environment in China. In fact, the Chinese are easily influenced in their choice. They like having access to reviews from other consumers, especially if those consumers have an important review on the Chinese web. This is the case with opinion leaders, also called Key Opinion Leaders. These Internet users post publications, photos, videos and personal opinions on a specific subject. Their quality publications allow them to create an important virtual community, over which they have a very real influence. For a tourism professional, considering a partnership with a KOL influencing its hundreds of thousands of fans is a good solution to improve its image and its reputation.
Online booking sites
In China, this type of site is consulted for the information it contains and their service offers. They therefore offer Internet users to consult the opinions and ratings of previous consumers, as well as quality photos. Understanding and meeting the demand of Chinese Internet users for quick access to quality information has been very beneficial to them. Indeed, these sites enabled Chinese online tourism to generate 2850 billion yuan in revenue in 2013, or 7.7% of total tourism-related expenses. A figure that is expected to increase to 13.2% by 2016.
In China, the main online booking sites to be present on are: Ctrip, Qunar, Tuniu, Elong and Lümama. Promoting one’s destination there for a tourism player is a good way to gain visibility.
The war of influence over Chinese tourists therefore begins online. Being well referenced on Baidu, active on Weibo and Wechat, and visible on the main Chinese online booking platforms will become vital for tourism players.
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