Don’t get cheated by Chinese Tour Agencies in 2023

China has open their border and Massive amount of Chinese people will travel, and all travel agencies will partner with Local inbound agencies for host trips.

You know that Chinese tourists love to travel in groups, so as a tourism company, you see the opportunity of doing business with them.

But you also might know that as a foreigner you can easily get fooled by the Chinese if you don’t know how to do it. So, here are some tips and things that you need to know, in order not to get cheated by Chinese tour agencies.

Doing business with Chinese Tour Operator in 2020-2023

Your success in China and with Chinese partners will only depend on the way you do it, and on the way you interact with them.

What you have to keep in mind is that business is business and since you are a foreigner, the Chinese will always prefer local companies and go for the Chinese one. However, many of them would still be very interested in international brands, even though they might not trust you as much as a Chinese brand in the first place.

If you want to do business with a Chinese company, it is first better to know the language and the common uses in order to make a great deal and not get fooled. Your deals with a Chinese agency can be a total failure if you don’t know the codes, while it can be a very prosperous deal if you master them.

You need Chinese Language

Know the language. Find a way to have someone from your side who is able to understand and speak Chinese so you can easily discuss every part of the deal and make sure that you are both on the same line. Chinese would find it much more attractive and convenient if you are able to speak their language because they would feel valued and feel that you are very interested to do business, especially serious and long-term business with them.

Use Chinese Tools to connect with them

One of the keys to not get cheated by Chinese tour agencies is to fit to what they use, here the Chinese tools which are obviously different than the western ones. You have

  • Wechat
  • Baidu
  • Mafengwo
  • Fliggy
  • Etc

It is also on these platforms that you will be able to have more information on the company, how serious it can be, with the feedback from partners and customers, which can be a very good way to check if the Chinese tour agency is reliable.

Keep an eye on them with Wechat

In China, you need WeChat: it is used by everybody, in every kind of situation, for personal and professional use: it is a MUST HAVE. You can easily find the Chinese tour agency on Wechat because they must have an official account that you can follow and where you can find all the information about the company and contact them if needed.

With the WeChat Official Account, they will promote their services and even though you will not have access of their analytic data (number of followers, feedbacks,…), you can still check how many readers they have per article and how many “Wow” they have (the equivalent of “like”, that you can put at the end of the Wechat article and Wechat brochure).

With their Wechat, you can also have access to the latest news that they post to their followers, and you can also easily have access to their website where you can find all the information.

If your Chinese tour agency is not on Wechat then it is a bad sign. If they are not active, it is also a bad sign, and if they do not look good and popular, it can also be a bad sign.

Find tour operator on the Chinese search engine: Baidu

Baidu is like Google, and it is where all the websites are referenced in China. You will find their official website and as you would do with Western partners, you can check how reliable they look, and you can get to know them better with the information they are providing. On Baidu, you can also find forums where individuals will share their opinions and feedback on what they did, where they went: on their experience. It can also be very good to check the reliability of your potential partners.

Check the feedback from their customers on Mafengwo

To make it simple, Mafengwo is like Tripadvisor but in China. This is where individuals share their opinions on restaurants, museums, activities, but also tours. It is quite trustworthy because it is mainly independent individuals who share their own experiences, so they are not sponsored and they are not paid by either the tour, the agencies, or the companies.

On the picture above, you can see the page where you can look for information on group offers: you can select different criteria to make it fit you the best.

Therefore, you can check the rating and the comments on your potential tour guide, compare it with others, and make your decision.

Make business with tour operators on Fliggy

This platform is part of Alibaba’s giant connected world. It is mainly focused on hotels and transportation tickets (bus, trains, flights,…), but you can also book tours and it is very easy since it is connected to Alibaba so it is connected to Alipay (a mobile payment tool which is widely used across the country). Indeed, you will be able to find many tourism actors, and once again, thanks to the ranking, the rating, and the comments, you will be able to make your decision.

You can check this article if you want to know: How to promote your destination to Chinese Tourists with Fliggy

Check Chinese tour operators legitimacy

As in Western culture, one of the easiest ways to check if a company is legal and safe is to check the labels and accreditations.

You can first check if the agency is legal, if it is registered in the Chinese administration, for how long, etc, and you can ask them for their license and document issued by the authority.

Regarding the labels and accreditations, you have the CNTO (China National Tourism Administration) which is the National entity where mainly foreign companies registered in China, but there are also Chinese companies recorded.

Just to name the main ones, there is also the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) that you must know as the largest association of tourism professionals worldwide and will, therefore, count Chinese companies as much as foreign ones, in China and all over the world.

For a more regional one, you have the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) which is more focused on the Pacific Asia region, and is the biggest accreditation authority in this region, so a reliable Chinese company should have this accreditation.

For both labels, accreditations, and licenses, make sure that you ask the agency their identification number and check it after, because it can be very easy to get a fake one, and having only a picture of it is not a reliable proof.

Check also Digital weapons in China on seoagencychina

Always transmit a positive image of your brand in China

Give Face to your Chinese Partners

In any kind of business and situation, if there is one thing that you ALWAYS have to keep in mind, and which will help you avoid most of the problems, it is: Chinese hate to lose face (mianzi)

But what does it mean? Losing face in China is about dignity, reputation, and respect.

In terms of Business, if you offer a price which is too low or if they realize that your services are not as good as pretend, they will think that you are trying to fool them, and they will break the deal or try to fool you return….

On the opposite, they like when you give them face, or at least when you make them face: it might look awkward said like this but it is simply the fact of showing them respect in return (make face) and showing them even more respect and valuation (giving face).

So, it is as simple as that: if the risk of losing face is too high, then the Chinese will never try to fool you because the face is too important. Thus, a first trick would be “do not try to cheat on Chinese, they will not cheat on you”, it is all about playing a fair game.

Keep in mind that you are an outsider in China

In the same way, you are suspicious to do business with Chinese agencies, they are suspicious to do business with you which is a foreigner. Indeed, if they had to choose you compared to a Chinese partner for the exact same service, they would choose the Chinese one, just in case. Therefore, you have to gain their trust, and once you have it, don’t lose it.

And if you do not want to get passed by a Chinese competitor, then you always have to upgrade your services, show your value-added and always play a fair game, otherwise, this is when you will get cheated by Chinese agencies who will decide to do business with one of their patriots.


We are a marketing agency with high knowledge of the tourism market in Chinese, so feel free to contact us for any of your partnership, also we already have a contact list of tourism actors here in China.

For more insights, you can also read

  1. How to revive the 2020 season with Chinese tourists
  2. How to find a good Chinese tour partner in 2020
  3. Our GMA story

If you want to have a free consultation, drop us an email with your project and details.

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