In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, effective marketing strategies for the travel and tourism industry have shifted towards a more digital and interconnected approach. The forerunner in this digital revolution is WeChat, a comprehensive mobile app developed by Tencent, encompassing messaging, social media, and mobile payment functionalities. With a user base exceeding a billion people, WeChat offers an expansive reach and a variety of cutting-edge features, establishing it as an invaluable platform for marketers.
This in-depth article will explore and reveal the untapped potential of WeChat as a potent tool for destination travel and tourism marketing.
Introduction to WeChat
WeChat is not just any ordinary app; it’s a multifunctional powerhouse developed by Tencent, China’s tech titan. Born as a simple messaging tool in 2011, it has since evolved into a comprehensive digital hub.
Today, WeChat, with more than 1.26 billion monthly active users, facilitates a plethora of services, transforming from a mere communication tool into a complete lifestyle and e-commerce platform. The app encapsulates various features like messaging, social media, and mobile payments, to name just a few, all neatly packed into one unified platform.
WeChat’s ecosystem is a comprehensive, all-in-one platform that integrates a multitude of functionalities, making it much more than a mere messaging app. Here’s a snapshot of the WeChat ecosystem:
- Messaging (text, voice, video)
- Social Media (WeChat Moments)
- Mobile Payments (WeChat Pay)
- Mini Programs
- WeChat Channels (short videos and live streaming)
- Official Accounts for Businesses
- Location-Based Services
- WeChat Work (business-oriented services)
- City Services (public services like booking doctor appointments)
- Heat Map (shows user density in a given area)
- QR Code Payments
- Red Packets (virtual gift giving)
- Discover (news, music, books)
…and much more. The power of WeChat lies in this integrated ecosystem, which offers an unparalleled level of convenience to its users and a wealth of opportunities for businesses.
Why is WeChat a perfect app for travel marketing?
WeChat is an ideal platform for travel marketing due to its integrated ecosystem of features, vast user base, and its role as an integral part of daily life, particularly in China. Here are the reasons in more detail:
Huge user base
With over a billion active users, WeChat provides a large, diverse audience for travel marketers to target. The potential for reach and engagement is enormous.
WeChat’s location-based services allow marketers to deliver targeted, location-specific content and promotions to users. This is especially advantageous for travel marketers aiming to promote specific destinations or local experiences.
WeChat official accounts and WeChat mini-programs for business
Travel businesses can set up Official Accounts on WeChat, providing them with a direct communication channel with potential customers. These accounts can be used to share engaging content, deliver personalized promotions, and provide customer service, all of which are critical components of an effective travel marketing strategy.
With WeChat Pay, users can effortlessly make payments within the app, a feature that’s highly advantageous for travel marketers. From booking tours to paying for accommodation and local experiences, the entire customer journey can be facilitated smoothly within the WeChat platform.
Social sharing with WeChat Moments
WeChat Moments, akin to a news feed, allows users to share their travel experiences with their network. As these posts are often seen by friends and family who trust their recommendations, this feature can significantly amplify the visibility of a destination or travel business.
Engaging content formats
WeChat supports various content formats, including text, images, videos, and live streams, offering numerous ways for travel marketers to showcase destinations and engage with their audience. The rise of short videos and live streaming, particularly via WeChat Channels, provides a dynamic and engaging platform for promoting travel experiences.
WeChat allows for real-time communication between businesses and customers. Travel marketers can use this feature to offer instant customer support, handle inquiries, and manage bookings, resulting in a superior customer experience.
Given these advantages, it’s clear that WeChat is a powerful tool in the travel marketing toolkit, offering numerous opportunities for businesses to connect with potential customers, promote their offerings, and facilitate seamless travel experiences.
How to Harness WeChat for Destination Travel and Tourism Marketing
WeChat, with its immense user base and versatile features, presents a golden opportunity for businesses in the travel and tourism sector to connect with potential customers. So how to do it right to attract WeChat users to your offer?
Start by setting up a WeChat official account
A WeChat Official Account acts as a hub for businesses on the platform, offering a channel to interact with customers, share content, and provide services. When setting up your official account, focus on creating a user-friendly and visually appealing homepage. Consider it as your virtual storefront; it should reflect your brand’s image and offer an overview of your services.
For instance, a tourism board can showcase its destination’s highlights or a travel agency can feature its top tour packages.
The platform offers three types of official accounts: Service Accounts, Subscription Accounts, and Enterprise Accounts. For a destination travel company, a Service Account would be the best choice because of its diverse functionality and customer-focused features.
Below is a step-by-step guide to setting up a WeChat Service Account:
- Register for an Account: Start by visiting the WeChat Official Accounts Platform and click on “Register now.”
- Select Account Type: Choose the ‘Service Account’ option. These accounts are best for businesses as they offer full functionality including advanced WeChat Pay, WeChat Store, and 9 API’s including location, voice recognition, and customer service messages.
- Fill in Details: You’ll be required to fill in your business’s details. This includes your business’s name, the account operator’s name, phone number, and email.
- Verify Your Account: Once you’ve filled out the details, WeChat will send a verification code to the phone number and email provided. Enter these codes to proceed.
- Upload Required Documents: For verification purposes, you will need to provide business-related documents. This includes your business’s registration certificate, the operator’s ID card or passport, and other necessary documents based on your region and specific business type.
- Review and Submit: Review all the details for accuracy, read and accept the WeChat Official Account Admin Platform Service Agreement, and click submit.
After you’ve submitted the form, it generally takes WeChat about 2 weeks to process your request. Once approved, you’ll have access to the WeChat admin platform where you can start customizing your account, creating content, and interacting with your audience.
As a Service Account, your posts will appear in the user’s friend session, which ensures higher visibility compared to a Subscription Account where the posts are placed in a dedicated folder that users have to access separately. Also, Service Accounts are allowed to send four messages per month, ensuring that you prioritize high-quality, valuable content.
Remember, the key to successful marketing on WeChat is engaging your audience with relevant, compelling content and utilizing the various features offered by the platform to their fullest extent.
Focus on good storytelling
Storytelling is a potent tool for capturing attention and building connections. It’s especially valuable in the travel sector, where experiences and emotions are paramount. Use your WeChat account to weave engaging narratives around your offerings.
For example, instead of merely listing a tour’s features, narrate a day in the life of a traveler experiencing the tour. This immersive approach can transport potential tourists, making them more likely to book.
Make use of location-based services
WeChat’s location-based services provide a way to target users based on their geographical location. For travel marketers, this could mean pushing location-specific content or deals to travelers when they’re in the vicinity. A hotel, for instance, could send special dinner offers to users near its location, encouraging them to dine at their restaurant.
Get familiar with WeChat Moments
WeChat Moments is akin to a social media feed where users share their experiences. Businesses can use this feature to increase organic visibility. Encourage your customers to share their travel experiences on Moments, offering them a platform to become ambassadors of your brand. You could even incentivize these shares with discounts on future bookings.
Create engaging content
Quality content is key to capturing and holding user attention. Whether it’s blog posts, images, or videos, your content should be compelling, relevant, and valuable. Share travel tips, destination guides, or user-generated content to connect with your audience. Remember, consistency is key, so ensure you’re posting regularly.
WeChat Channels for short video content and travel live-streaming
WeChat Channels allow for the sharing of short videos and live streams, a trend that has skyrocketed in recent years. Live streams provide an opportunity to offer real-time interactions, such as Q&A sessions about your offerings.
Similarly, short videos can be used to showcase experiences in an engaging format. A cruise operator, for example, could share a live stream tour of their ship or a short video of a day on board.
WeChat Channels are similar to Douyin (Chinese TikTok), offering three tabs: videos from accounts you follow, friends, and trending accounts to discover.
They are a really great tool to implement into your WeChat marketing strategy, as they can show social media users your offerings in real-time. They are also the most ‘open’ feature of the WeChat app, meaning that it’s easiest to attract new followers through videos and live streams.
Collaborate with travel Key Opinion Leaders
KOLs or influencers hold significant sway in China, and their endorsement can drive considerable traffic and conversions. Collaborating with KOLs who align with your brand image can elevate your marketing efforts. For instance, partnering with a KOL that specializes in luxury travel can amplify a luxury resort’s reach and credibility.
Invest in WeChat advertising
WeChat advertising provides a powerful tool for tourism businesses to boost their visibility, attract potential customers, and drive conversions. But it’s important to understand, that it’s definitely not a necessity and as the costs are high, it’s best for well-established big brands.
There are three main types of WeChat ads:
WeChat Moments Ads
WeChat Moments Ads are akin to Facebook’s news feed ads, appearing directly in users’ Moments feed. These ads can contain a blend of text, images, and videos and are seen by users while scrolling through their feed.
For travel and tourism businesses, Moments Ads can be used to showcase attractive images or videos of a destination or service, stirring the desire for travel among users. They offer an excellent way to reach a wide audience and to generate engagement and awareness.
WeChat Banner Ads
Banner Ads appear at the bottom of articles published by WeChat Official Accounts. When a user is reading an article from an Official Account, your banner ad will show up towards the end of the article.
These ads can be used to promote specific offers or packages. For example, a hotel might use a banner ad to promote a seasonal discount or a travel agency might highlight a new tour package. Given their placement within articles, they can reach users who are already engaged in content related to your offering, increasing the chances of conversion.
WeChat Mini Program Ads
Mini Program Ads appear within WeChat sub-apps, offering another channel to reach Chinese consumers. These ads can be placed in various forms, such as an interstitial ad that appears during use of the Mini Program or as a banner ad within the program’s interface.
In the context of travel and tourism, Mini Program Ads could be used to promote a booking platform, a local tour guide service, or a hotel booking service, among other things. Since these ads appear to users who are already engaged within a Mini Program, they can be a highly effective way to promote relevant services.
Remember, WeChat advertising allows for precise targeting based on factors such as location, age, gender, interests, and more. As such, it’s crucial to understand your target audience and create ads that speak directly to their needs and desires.
WeChat eCommerce Features for the Travel Marketing
In the modern travel and tourism landscape, providing a seamless, end-to-end digital experience is not just an advantage but a necessity. That’s why it’s great to explore WeChat mini-programs, that offer many useful functions for the travel industry.
WeChat H5 Brochures in the Travel Industry
WeChat H5 brochures, or HTML5 multimedia web pages, offer a visually appealing and interactive way to showcase travel destinations, tours, and services. Rather than simply reading about a travel package, potential tourists can scroll through immersive visuals, video clips, interactive maps, and other multimedia content that bring the experience to life.
A travel agency, for instance, could create an H5 brochure for a new tour package. It could include pictures of the destination, a day-by-day itinerary, testimonials from previous customers, and even a 360-degree virtual tour.
H5 brochures can be shared on WeChat Moments or through direct messages, making them an excellent tool for both organic and paid marketing.
WeChat Mini Programs
WeChat Mini Programs are sub-applications within the WeChat platform. They provide a variety of services without requiring users to download or install additional apps. For travel businesses, creating a Mini Program can provide customers with a dedicated platform for all their needs.
A travel agency might create a Mini Program offering travel guides, booking services, customer support, and more. Similarly, a hotel might create a Mini Program that allows guests to check-in, book spa appointments, order room service, and even control smart room features. These mini-programs, customized to your offerings, improve customer experience and boost brand engagement.
Selling Travel Products and Services Through WeChat Stores
WeChat Stores allow businesses to set up online storefronts directly within the WeChat platform. This feature provides a seamless way for customers to browse and purchase travel products and services.
A tourism board could sell merchandising products or local crafts through a WeChat Store, offering a unique, location-based shopping experience. A travel agency could use a WeChat Store to sell tour packages, add-ons, or travel accessories.
The integration with WeChat Pay makes for a seamless and secure transaction experience, encouraging more users to make purchases.
WeChat Pay is the payment system integrated within WeChat. It enables users to make payments in RMB directly from their mobile device, offering a convenient, cashless payment method. For travel businesses, integrating WeChat Pay can streamline the booking process, making it faster and more convenient for customers to secure their travel plans.
Enhance Customer Service in Travel and Tourism Through WeChat
Customer service is the cornerstone of the travel and tourism industry. In the digital era, providing instant, reliable, and convenient customer support is paramount. WeChat, with its diverse array of features, can be leveraged to offer exceptional customer service, driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
WeChat Group Messaging for Customer Support
WeChat group messaging feature allows travel businesses to create a community of travellers. This community can serve as a platform for customers to share their experiences, ask questions, and receive instant responses. It not only provides a forum for direct customer support but also facilitates peer-to-peer interactions that can be incredibly valuable for travellers.
For instance, a travel agency could create a group chat for each tour group, providing a space for travellers to interact, share experiences, and ask questions, which can be promptly addressed by the tour guide or agency representative.
WeChat Menus for Simplified Support
The customisable menu feature on WeChat’s official accounts can be used to simplify customer support. Businesses can set up menus and submenus that guide users to essential information, like FAQs, booking details, contact information, and more.
A hotel, for example, might have menu options for ‘Booking’, ‘Facilities’, ‘Customer Support’, etc. Each of these options can lead to submenus or direct interactions, like ‘Book a Room’, ‘Spa Services’, ‘Contact Concierge’, etc., facilitating self-service and reducing the burden on customer service representatives.
Leveraging CRM for Personalised Service
WeChat’s integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows businesses to collect and analyse customer data. This data can be used to understand customer behaviour, preferences, and needs, enabling businesses to provide personalised service.
With this information, a travel agency could send personalised travel recommendations, offer tailored travel packages, or send special offers based on customer preferences. This kind of personalisation can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and foster customer loyalty.
Automated Messages for Quick Responses
Automated messages, or auto-replies, can be set up on WeChat to provide immediate responses to customer queries. These can be customized based on keywords, ensuring that customers receive accurate information promptly.
For example, if a customer messages a hotel’s WeChat account asking about ‘Check-in Time’, an auto-reply could be set up to immediately respond with the hotel’s check-in policy. This provides instant support to customers, improving their experience and freeing up customer service agents to handle more complex queries.
Promote Your Business with WeChat Marketing Experts!
As the global travel landscape continues to evolve, the need for a comprehensive, targeted, and culturally-sensitive digital marketing strategy is more important than ever. This is where we come in. Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a leading marketing agency specializing in WeChat marketing for the tourism sector.
Our Expertise in WeChat Marketing
With our extensive experience and in-depth understanding of the WeChat platform, we provide tailor-made marketing strategies designed to reach your target audience effectively. From setting up and managing WeChat Official Accounts to creating engaging content and leveraging the full potential of WeChat’s diverse features, we handle every aspect of your WeChat marketing efforts.
- WeChat Account Setup and Management: We guide you through the process of setting up a WeChat Official Account and ensure your account is fully optimized for customer engagement and conversions.
- Content Creation and Management: We create engaging, high-quality content designed to resonate with your target audience. Our team of talented copywriters and designers craft compelling stories that highlight your travel offerings and destinations.
- WeChat Advertising: Our team of advertising experts can help you navigate the complex world of WeChat advertising. Whether it’s Moments Ads, Banner Ads or Mini Program Ads, we ensure your advertising budget is used effectively to reach your target audience.
- WeChat E-commerce Solutions: We can help you set up a WeChat Store, design interactive H5 brochures, and develop custom Mini Programs to enhance your e-commerce presence and provide a seamless booking experience for your customers.
- Customer Service and CRM: We use WeChat’s advanced CRM features to provide personalized customer service and foster customer loyalty. We also set up automated messages for quick responses and manage group chats for effective customer interaction.
Why Choose Us?
We understand that every business is unique, which is why we offer bespoke marketing solutions that align with your business objectives. Our team is comprised of skilled professionals who are committed to helping your travel business grow in the competitive digital landscape.
Partner with us to leverage the power of WeChat and unlock new opportunities for your travel and tourism business. Contact us today for a consultation and let’s start building your success story on WeChat.