With China’s post-COVID opening in 2023, a rise in Chinese disposable income, and longer holiday periods available, Chinese tourists are looking for new ways to spend their holidays.
To attract these potential tourists, companies operating in the Chinese market must meet them where they are, that is the Internet. For most Chinese travelers, their search concerning their travel destinations, the search begins online, with the use of Chinese social media platforms.
In this blog post, we will show you the best Chinese social media sites for the tourism sector and tips on how to craft the best social media marketing strategy for Chinese Internet users.
Chinese Social Media Landscape
All differences are explained by the banishment of the world-leading social network Facebook and Instagram. It allowed many other networks to appear. On the one hand, you have the ones that «propose» the same offer and on the other hand, you have the ones with a much more different positioning with their specific targets.
The Chinese social media landscape doesn’t feature Facebook, Youtube, or Instagram but instead, you will hear about WeChat, Weibo, or Youku to online quote the main ones.
Chinese people love to share their life and experience on social networks as fast as possible. They spend 1 third of their daily social networking.
By the way, the growing smartphone use allowed the development of many social networks especially connected to suit smartphone use. The first one you have to carefully use for the tourism industry: is WeChat.
How to reach Chinese travelers online?
1. Have an optimized website in Mandarin
2. Rank it higher on Baidu: SEO or PPC
3. Register on Chinese OTA
4. Build up communities around your official WeChat and Weibo accounts
The Best Chinese Social Media Platforms for Tourism
Before developing the function of WeChat and its usefulness in inbound marketing, here are some figures to understand better the influence of this social network:
- The function that was key to the success of WeChat was the ability to send short voice messages for one minute to contacts
- WeChat users are over 1 billion in 2023
- 55% of users consult their WeChat more than ten times a day
- 41% of users use it to search for information
WeChat is a closed social network: users are not in open communities unless they have been invited into groups. Regarding tourism, Chinese tourists will share their experiences via the “moments”, mini-posts where they can share their travel as well as post photos.
What’s the purpose of using such a social network for a company? The companies can create official accounts so they can be followed by an important amount of users. Either you can follow these official accounts by using the traditional method, which is simply using the account name or you can use the QR Code that can be scanned through your phone camera. Which is much simpler and faster, it takes a major place in O2O strategies, to make customers use their services or rent a room in their hotels.
When you are an agency or a hotel, for example, you can, via your account, post your latest news and discounts, which can attract your potential customers. This kind of account will give an impression of a premium contact between you and the customer. This «VIP» effect is something Chinese people are really sensitive about, especially when they are traveling.
To have an effective WeChat strategy you necessarily have to build a reactive Community Management team ready to answer any solicitations of the Chinese customer.
Tuniu is one of the key actors in the online travel agencies (OTA) market but is especially important thanks to its community and its role in the decision-making for the Chinese tourists’ vacation planning process.
It is on this platform that Chinese tourists demand early information about their next vacation. Indeed, Chinese tourists want to optimize their as much as possible their holidays, especially when they go abroad, because of the lack of long holidays (2 periods of 10 days for the majority of Chinese).
They seek information on where to go, how to get there, which destinations to avoid, or which hotels to book. A Community Manager team posting good comments can slightly influence the decision-making.
When returning from holidays, Chinese who have already been on vacation will also share their experiences with other users, as “experts”, giving weight to their statements. Indeed, C2C information is the most powerful tool in China, where content provided directly by the brands is judged untrustworthy.
Weibo is a very popular Chinese social media platform, which could be described as a mix between Twitter and Facebook. Since its launch, the platform has evolved to become a powerful tool that can be used to communicate and influence Chinese consumers. In 2023 it accounted for more than 570 million monthly active users.
It is necessary for brands willing to operate on the Chinese market to open an account on Weibo and advertise interesting and attractive content to interact with and target Chinese tourists. By using Weibo, brands have the opportunity to get to know Chinese travellers’ needs, habits, interest, and even their behaviours.
An important number of Chinese travellers are more and more inclined to research and plan their trips rather than purchase group packages. Nowadays they do their research on travel dedicated sites and travel social networks, one of the most popular is Mafengwo.
Mafengwo is a community of travel aficionados that come together to share their experiences, advice and recommendations. The site has four million monthly active users and one million user-generated travel guides. With this kind of audience, it makes sense to advertise there.
Originating in Germany in 2004 and now headquartered in Beijing, QYER began as a travel community for overseas Chinese, sharing their experiences and tips on traveling around Europe. Over time, it has evolved into an all-encompassing “one-stop outbound travel platform,” catering to the needs of modern Chinese travelers seeking convenience and cost-effectiveness in overseas journeys.
QYER’s comprehensive offerings revolve around three main products:
The foundation of QYER’s success lies in its online community, where it all began. The platform hosts a myriad of posts, ranging from informative articles on various destinations worldwide to specialized content on family trips, photography expeditions, and cruises.
The community is categorized by continents, allowing travelers to explore destinations in Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond. With each post attracting hundreds of comments expressing gratitude, encouragement, and even requests to travel together, QYER fosters a vibrant and interactive travel-sharing culture. Remarkably, more than 6000 new articles are added by travelers every day, making it a treasure trove of firsthand travel experiences.
Trip Planning Site and App
QYER simplifies trip planning with its user-friendly site and app. Travelers can swiftly generate a personalized trip plan in as little as one minute by inputting essential factors such as departure and return cities, preferred destinations, trip duration, and transportation mode. The platform harnesses big data to curate travel itineraries tailored to individual preferences and pacing, ensuring a seamless and enriching travel experience.
Facilitating independent overseas travel, QYER’s e-commerce platform offers a wide array of services and products. From flight tickets and entry passes to scenic spots and tourist attractions, to visa services, travelers find everything they need for a smooth and memorable journey abroad.
QYER’s accomplishments are impressive, boasting a staggering 80 million registered users who trust and rely on the platform for their global travel needs.
While Mafengwo.cn predominantly caters to domestic travel, QYER strategically focuses on empowering Chinese travelers venturing abroad. This distinction has even given rise to a viral saying among users: “Choose Mafengwo in-bound, Qyer out-bound.” Such is the influence and appeal of QYER in the outbound travel landscape.
Ctrip, now known as Trip.com Group, is China’s premier travel social media platform. It offers a wide range of travel services and engaging content, attracting millions of Chinese travelers. Users share travel experiences, blogs, and reviews, creating a vibrant community of like-minded adventurers.
The platform features interactive tools, trip planners, and influencer collaborations. It has become a go-to destination for travel inspiration and information, transforming from a booking platform to a dynamic social hub. Ctrip’s user-generated content and authentic travel insights empower travelers to make informed decisions.
With its strong user base and innovative approach, Ctrip continues to redefine travel exploration and connection in China.
Qunar is a prominent social media platform in China, revolutionizing the travel industry. Founded in 2005, it has become a leading online travel agency, known for its social engagement and user-generated content. The platform fosters a vibrant travel community where users share experiences, photos, and travel tips. This peer-to-peer sharing builds trust among travelers.
Leveraging AI and big data, Qunar provides personalized travel recommendations and seamless booking experiences for flights, hotels, and trains. Its mobile app is widely popular, catering to tech-savvy Chinese travelers.
Qunar’s social elements have redefined travel planning, encouraging community-driven decision-making. It has impacted China’s travel industry, prompting competitors to adopt similar social features. As China’s travel market grows, Qunar remains innovative, shaping the future of travel in the country and beyond. With millions of users and a commitment to enhancing travel experiences, Qunar continues to play a pivotal role in connecting Chinese travelers to their dream destinations.
Fliggy’s innovative approach to social commerce and its emphasis on community-driven travel experiences have set it apart in China’s competitive digital landscape. By combining social networking, e-commerce, and travel services, Fliggy has established itself as a leading lifestyle and travel platform, empowering Chinese consumers to explore the world, connect with fellow travelers, and create unforgettable memories.
As China’s travel and lifestyle preferences continue to evolve, Fliggy remains at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge solutions and exceptional experiences to its ever-expanding user base.
Work with KOLs
Standard media advertising used in the west, will most likely not reach Chinese customers as their needs and expectations are very much different. Many Chinese citizens’ life happens on smartphones and is especially focused on social media.
You might’ve guessed by now but collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who love to travel is a very effective strategy indeed a KOL with a consequent following can enable your business to reach travellers in China. A good example of a successful KOL is Shenwei, a very influential travel KOL, who has over 5 million followers on Weibo.
Case Study: Scaevola x Weibo
Travel agency in Malaysia, Scaevola has built a strong presence among the most popular social networks in China.
First, the agency set up a website in Chinese and then installed a Weibo account to create a community on an open social network, allowing interaction among members about the content broadcasted by them.
Scaevola regularly posts content on its new offers and destinations to follow to get the best price. This network allows the travel agency to stay as close as possible to the community. In addition to this, videos are posted regularly on its Youku channel, the most used video platform in China.
In this case, users can view presentations of organized tours and presentations of the agency. We thus find the winning combination of Youku (which allows the upload of videos) – Weibo (which ensures their dissemination).
Want to attract more Chinese tourists?
We are Experts in Chinese E-Tourism!
If you are a foreign brand looking to tap into the vast potential of the Chinese tourism market and attract more Chinese tourists, our agency is here to help you every step of the way. With our expertise in Chinese E-Tourism, we have a deep understanding of the unique preferences and behaviors of Chinese travelers.
We offer comprehensive solutions to assist you in entering the Chinese market and leveraging the power of social media in your marketing campaigns. Our team of experts will guide you in navigating the complexities of the Chinese digital landscape, ensuring that your brand message reaches the right audience at the right time.
Whether you need assistance in setting up your online presence on platforms or crafting engaging content for Chinese social media, we have the knowledge and experience to deliver results. Our goal is to help you create a strong and impactful presence in China, driving more traffic to your offerings and increasing brand awareness among Chinese travelers.
Don’t miss out on the immense opportunities presented by the Chinese tourism market. Contact us now to schedule a Free Consultation and discover how we can tailor a well-rounded campaign specifically for your brand.
Let us be your trusted partner in unlocking the full potential of the Chinese E-Tourism market. Together, we can make your brand a success story in China!