10 tips for tourism marketers in China

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With the opening-up policy and the substantial increase in people’s personal income, leading to a great improvement in Chinese people’s leaving standards and consumption level. The China tourism industry has seen unprecedented development in recent years. Outbound visitors in 2017 were about 127 million and China outbound tourism ranked first in the first half of 2017.

One important reason for the growth is that the number of outbound tourism destinations included in the Chinese passport has greatly increased to 153 countries/regions. Among them, 65 countries/regions have provided convenient visa policies to Chinese tourists by July 11, 2017.

The Chinese outbound tourism market still shows rosy prospects, since 90% of Chinese have not applied yet for passports for outbound tours. In this booming industry, Marketers must be smart and agile enough to catch the opportunities.

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Marketers have to understand Chinese travelers at first

Majority of the Chinese population is not able to speak English and this becomes an obstacle for a Chinese traveler who wants to spend money. Therefore, it’s essential that marketers make greater efforts in order to cater to the Chinese tourists.

Basically, Chinese travelers belong to the middle and high classes and their trips are focused above all, in the cultural and shopping tourism. Their luxury purchasing desires are the reason why marketers are trying to attract them.

The growth of Chinese tourism is due to the increased incomes of the middle class, the desire for a better quality of life and their social status. The main reason to travel abroad is the chance to buy luxury goods for themselves and their family or friends to show their status.

Nowadays, China is the first tourism source market in the world with over 100 million Chinese tourists travel outside China each year. In addition, Chinese travelers are the biggest spenders with an average of $1000 per day. Around 80% of Chinese travelers view vacations as shopping trips, that’s why during 2013 they spent US$102 billion on travel abroad.

The hottest destinations include South Korea, Japan, Thailand, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Singapore, and the Maldives, some of which are nearby Asian countries. Based on the huge population, a further and sustained growth of outbound visitors is expected.

1. Understand Chinese tourists

You have to understand what Chinese tourists want in order to offer them your best services. Their trips are mainly focused in shopping and they expect to receive a personalized attention during their purchases. The reason why they are purchasing luxury goods is the Chinese social conviction called “show face” which means the chance to show their economic status through products.

However, according to the figures from January to April in 2017 by Travel China Guide, the Chinese tourist’s consumption shows a downturn in shopping activities while traveling. However, Statistics reveal an increase in their consumption of cultural and physical entertainment: + 83.6% in the outbound market and + 334% in the domestic tourism market. Chinese travelers want to discover more about other countries, to have a new experience.

They are seeking for more rich travel experience as they can nowadays find imported products quite easily in China (of course counterfeit products still represent a big deal, but the situation is relatively better than before). If they purchase luxury goods during their travel, the consumption is more towards niche brands which they can’t find yet in China, or towards limited edition products. It also helps to “keep face” when someone comes back from its travel with a product unavailable in the country.

2. Show respect for their culture

This is an important point for them during their holidays. Chinese culture is very different than western culture and they are very superstitious. That’s why some hotels give to the rooms with number 8 because is a lucky number instead rooms with number 4 which is a number associated with the word “death” (“four” in Chinese has a pronunciation close to the word “death”, their pinyin are all “si”).

Also, they can have some different habits, not because they don’t show respect to you but because they were accustomed to act like that. For example, when purchasing in some luxury stores, their attitude may sometimes bother others by speaking too loudly but you just have to let them know. The matter of “face” also plays a role here, they definitely will not consider your remark improper, and will follow the rule to “keep Chinese’s face”. China is a country in a development stage, indeed there are people with a better education than other, who could be lovelier, but there are also others with fewer experiences. The most important is to consider them equals to other consumers.

3. Adapt your style

Chinese tourists are very demanding therefore it is crucial to adapt your services to them in order to satisfy their necessities. For example, some hotel chains have designed exclusive programs to attend their Chinese guests. Hilton, Marriot or Starwood hotels have adapted their food and room amenities to the Chinese tourists.

In Paris, near to the touristic places, many shops are also implementing the mobile payment. In fact, in China, people don’t use the money a lot since the development of Wechat and Alipay’s mobile payment. In the Galeries Lafayette shopping mall, consumers can make the payment through a QR code, and they can also get tax free through a new program implemented.

By the way, Overseas hotels started to use WeChat in order to attract Chinese clientele. How? Through setting their official accounts or mini-programs on WeChat, Chinese tourists traveling abroad can go through the entire booking process in a way that is most comfortable to them. In the language they know best, they can do room selection, reservation, and payment. This allows overcoming barriers of language and habit, which could possibly slow the boom in Chinese tourism abroad.

4. Recruit local employees

In order to save the barrier language, businesses could hire Chinese employees to improve the communication with the potential customers. Besides, they are able to advise you about the right strategies to attract them because they understand what Chinese tourists want.

5. Create relevant content

Besides asking for travel agencies, Chinese do a lot of researches online above. They search for the destination they want to go, the itinerary they should take, the place they want to stay or the things they want to do.

They pay a particular attention to official websites’ contents and other people’s experience and their advice. Most of their researches are done on Baidu, the main search engine in China. Thus, it is important to create good quality and relevant contents to be well referenced and visible enough for Chinese users.

The content of your website has to be interesting and attractive. A relevant content is important and will help your potential consumers build a good opinion of your brand. However, this is not enough and companies have to create content for them.

6. Translate your content

Mainly, the knowledge of your brand depends on its integration into the Chinese search engines and above everything, it depends on the content language. It is essential to have in the Mandarin language the information of your services and products in order to reach the Chinese consumers.

Besides, as we talk about before, the major part of Chinese online users are not accustomed to English. They even don’t make a lot of effort to continue the reading if they don’t really lack for information. It can let them get away from your website quickly is the content isn’t attractive enough, and they can turn towards other websites or social media platforms, which may not provide them with the information you need for your brand.

7. Digital presence in China

The new Chinese tourist is a “connected consumer”. Due to the integration of the mobile devices into the daily life, Chinese have the constant necessity of using their smartphone to find information about products, shopping, food, and activities, even when they are traveling. That is the reason why is very important have a brand’s presence on the search engines in China.

Your e-reputation is crucial to market in China as they rely a lot on word of mouth. The huge presence of digital can be a barrier for foreign marketers because the platforms used by Chinese are uncommon from the one used by most of the other countries (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google are not available in China, like many other foreign websites). However, the digitalization also brings a lot of new possibilities and channels for promotion. Nowadays, there are a lot of travel apps and online groups/forums you can leverage to advertise among Chinese people.

8. Integrate Chinese payment systems

Another obstacle for Chinese tourist who wants to spend money is the pay system. Majority of Chinese tourist don’t have an international credit card and most of the shops, hotels, and restaurants don’t accept the Chinese payment system. It is essential to integrate UnionPay in order to facilitate their purchases.

Alipay and WeChat pay, as we mentioned in tip 3 are the most used payment platforms in China. You can contact a specialist to implement this payment system for your business abroad.

9. Be on Chinese social media

Businesses have to be present on Chinese social media. Chinese consumers through social media platforms are looking for opinions and information about the products and services that you offer. Promoting your brand on local social channels such as Weibo, Renren or Kaixin are mandatory marketing activities to approach the Chinese consumers.

Nowadays in China, social media are closely linked with business such as e-commerce. Chinese spend a lot of time online, because of the convenience and because of entertainment. They rely a lot on the information shared in their online community and social media platforms have become some kinda channel for marketing in China. People pay more attention to what’s online than to traditional advertising technics such as television or radio.

WeChat, for example, has over 1 billion monthly active users now. The average Chinese spend 1/2 of its time connected on WeChat to follow the news, his friend’s “WeChat moment” etc, his account followed. Brands are leveraging this platform for branding and communication, also for the customer services.

GMA is the specialist of digital marketing in China. We can help you with the setting of your WeChat Official account, including content creation and the management of your page. To reach and keep your Chinese consumers, you need manage both an outbound and inbound marketing strategy.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss your need.

10. Promotion

Chinese love to find online promotions. If you want to attract them, don’t hesitate to give them discounts or “special event” in order to increase their interest in your brand.

Chinese tourists are very keen on spreading information about their experiences, good or bad. The better you cover your angles, the more likely you will be to increase your sales regarding Chinese outbound tourists and their hunger for spending.

Here are several tips that marketers have to use to catch Chinese tourists. If you are having troubles attracting Chinese tourist or you want to increase the number of customers, feel free to contact us now.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency

We are a pure digital player agency based in Shanghai. With more than 6 years of experience, we provide you with effective solutions to increase your brand’s performance in China. Do not hesitate to connect now with our tourism specialist to learn about the right strategy for your brand in China.


All you need to know about Chinese tourists.


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One Comment

  1. Hello

    This tips are just amazing , a must read if you want you business to attract travelers specially from china.
    thank you so much.

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