According to Tourism Ireland, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Ireland could reach 200,000 in 2025, more than double that in 2017. Indeed, in 2019, about 100,000 Chinese tourists went to Ireland, up about 15 percent year-on year.
Tourism Ireland announced that it has joined forces with WeChat, a popular social media platform in China, to attract more Chinese tourists to the island of Ireland.
The partnership involves a new mini-program on WeChat, called ‘Explore Ireland’, designed to make it as easy as possible for Chinese visitors to choose the island of Ireland.
Chinese tourists in Ireland
In order to attract the growing inflow of Chinese tourists, Tourism Ireland and Irish tourism partners launched the China Ready training program. This is a program designed to help Irish tourism companies to grab business opportunities and develop their strategy in China with for example Wechat. Tourism Ireland also developed a joint campaign with one of the biggest Chinese travel companies to attract travelers to come visit Ireland in winter. The Tourism Ireland’s manager for China, James Kenny, said: “Our aim is to win a greater share of the 4 million Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year”.
Most of Chinese tourists of the first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, had already traveled a lot. They know many countries and want now to discover new destinations. They are more independent than their peers are. Chinese living in the second-tier cities are less experienced than those living in the first-tier cities of China. That’s why this segment of Chinese tourists will prefer guided tour and group travelling.
In addition, because it’s a new country, they will spend a lot of money. They want to bring gifts and memories to their families and friends. The luxury tourism is more and more chosen by travelers. They want the best: quality, convenience and comfort.
Chinese tourists’ characteristics
The highest number of package trips are booked to Southeast Asia and Europe despite the difference in distance for Chinese tourists and the average spending associated with such destinations. A trip to Europe can also provide a language barrier, which is why a travel agency can help mitigate confusion, especially for travelers who want to visit multiple destinations.
Indeed, Mc Kinsey’s research shows that age is a factor in the popularity of certain types of tours. Self-guided tours, for example, are favored by 44 percent of travelers aged 20 to 24, and that number drops to 27 percent for tourists more than 60 years of age.10 Meanwhile, package tours of 10 to 20 people account for just 4 percent of the youngest cohort of tourists but become more popular with older demographics.
Chinese tourists have a diverse appetite for outbound trips, dispelling the myth that they prefer to take a trip only to do shopping. According to Mc Kinsey’s research, when planning a trip, Chinese outbound tourists desire places that offer natural scenery, high value for money, and family-friendly locales, though the importance of these factors varies by destination.
Finally, the new Chinese millennial generation is really complex, to attract this target you will need to use new tools. They want a unique and amazing experience. Indeed, they want to show their travel’s pictures to their friends and their family and they expect you, travel agency, to make it wonderful and unforgettable. They look for high-end package tours with customized and flexible travel experience.
How to attract Chinese tourists?
Even if Chinese travelers are ready to spend a lot of money abroad, attracting them requires a strategic approach and you need to follow some tips to generate traffic on your website.
Partnership with Chinese travel agencies
The majority of Chinese tourists travel in groups. According to the latest report by the tourism agency of China, group travel takes up 70% of traveling for Chinese people. Therefore, communication among agencies can make your website known, and allows you to generate your first business in the country.
WeChat to communicate with Chinese tourists
Chinese tourists will decide what to book and where to go mostly according to their friends or family advice followed by reviews and comments from users on Chinese social networks in China.
China is the world largest connected country: more than 90% of Chinese people have an account on at least one Chinese social network.
Wechat is the most used social media in China and, regardless of the size of your company, it is an essential media to develop your marketing strategy in the country. Including Wechat in your digital strategy to attract Chinese tourists is one of the most powerful tools you could use.
WeChat is the app on which Chinese spend most of their time. It is thus the best way to offer your brand visibility and create a community that will follow you.
Having a good reputation online is essential in China. Press Relations is one of the key points on which any digital marketing strategy should be based. PR is a marketing tool that excludes Paid ads. It consists of having an authority profile talking about your company. It can be media (newspapers, blog..), KOLs or even community. More than attracting Chinese travelers to your website, it is important to raise your company awareness and to make it more visible for Chinese by using online Public Relations.
Consequently, it is always useful for a company to use Press Relations to promote your travel tours. With PR you can establish a coherent brand position, write press releases in Mandarin and disseminate this content by targeting journalists.
PR has the advantage of lasting in time and it gives your company legitimacy.
SEO on Baidu is an important tool
The most widely used search engine by Chinese people and Chinese tourists is Baidu. The website owns 70% of the market shares, it ranks 5th among the most visited sites in the world and currently has more than 800 million web pages.
SEO on Baidu is the key for the visibility of your travel company in China. Baidu now offers a wide range of services, such as web searches, image search, music, forums or a Q&A service. It is structured like an ecosystem (Baidu Search, Baidu Promotion, Baidu Video, Baidu Maps, Baidupedia).
SEO on Baidu requires several steps, which may be different from what needs to be done on Google. The notions of trust and notoriety remain essential for companies wishing to enter the Chinese market and be visible on Baidu.
Key Opinion Leaders to create more engagement
In order to have a quick high visibility in China, few methods are as effective as partnerships with Key Opinion Leaders. Indeed, the word-of-mouth is very strong in China. Since few years, they became a real part of the influencer marketing because they are numerous and powerful. KOLs are often Chinese celebrities who are experts of a specific subject. They are popular social media users and they have created viral contents to develop a community around them.
Working together with Key Opinion Leaders will help your travel company to:
- Increase brand awareness;
- Engage consumers;
- Drive sells.
Many organizations working in the tourism industry wanting to attract Chinese customers already created partnerships with KOLs.
You can work with them by:
- exclusive promotions and discounts;
- digital events;
- creative collaborations
- appoint a KOL as the company’s brand ambassador;
- invitations to events;
- work directly with them on the travel package.
Use Chinese travel platforms
You can have your own website to publish your own content, publish information and specific details about your company. However, if your main purpose is to reach Chinese tourists you must register your business on these famous Chinese platforms. ¼ of the online travel agency market belongs to Ctrip. The rest of the market shares belong to Tuniu CY, LVmama and Aoyou.
Use Ctrip to attract Chinese toutists
Ctrip has now become very popular in China, and since its launch in 1999, Ctrip has experienced an unstoppable growth, becoming the leading travel platform among Chinese travelers. Also in economic terms the trend is more than positive. The Ctrip app is estimated to have generated over 350 billion Yuan for the value of services offered in 2019.
The company is currently listed on NASDAQ, with a market capitalization of approximately $ 20 billion, making it one of the leading travel platforms globally. Trip covers approximately 500,000 hotels in China and 750,000 overseas.
Ctrip is also the largest booking platform for airline, rail, bus and other transportation tickets in all of China. The app is connected with major national and international airlines, and offers air ticketing services covering 220 countries, 3600 international cities and 8 million air routes. Trip allows Chinese travelers to organize their travels in comfort.
The Chinese app, in fact, also offers the possibility to book vacation packages and guided tours at the chosen tourist attractions. In addition, Ctrip further meets Chinese tourists by offering a wide range of services related to the travel sector, including insurance services, visa management, tickets for attractions and activities of the place you intend to visit.
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