According to the UNWTO, international tourism expenditure has this year grown faster in China (+19%) than anywhere else in the world. According to TripAdvisor China Unbounded, nearly half of Chinese FITs plan to take more trips abroad and 52% will stay for longer periods. Currently, 40% stay abroad for 4-6 nights. It is estimated that Chinese Millennials will drive 55% of expansion in China’s consumption spending over the next five years.
While big brands have invested hugely in the China market for years now, how can overseas independent hotels with a limited budget to tap into this attractive Chinese FIT market?
Online branding is everything
Chinese people, millennials as well as seniors, are more digitally-oriented than ever before. They research their travel very thoroughly, usually online and through social media, before making a decision and making a booking.
Having a proper online branding and presence is therefore a crucial first step when tapping this valuable market. Since independent hotels are not international brand names that Chinese travellers are familiar with, they won’t search for them, which means it takes extra effort for such hotels to reach potential Chinese customers.
Localised responsive website
A proper online presence does not mean a translated website. Localisation is critical as the information on a hotel’s official website does not necessarily address the needs and interests of Chinese travellers.
In addition to Chinese amenities, there are many other things that Chinese people are looking for. A good localised website should highlight these as benefits, so independent hotels can be more appealing.
Baidu search engine optimisation SEO
While Google is blocked in China, Baidu is the main search engine used by Chinese people. Independent hotels may be surprised to find that in a Baidu search of their property, there are many ‘fake’ Chinese websites selling them already. Not good.
It is therefore imperative to have an official, locally hosted Chinese website and be well- positioned on Baidu as an organic listing.
Local hosting for fast loading speed
Because of the Great Fire Wall of China, international websites hosted overseas are often slow to load when viewed in China. Research has shown that Chinese people want a website to display in less than 5 seconds, or they move on to another site. As most overseas websites cannot achieve this, it is vital that hotels host a website in China so that potential guests do not move onto other hotel websites that do.
We provide the expertise, solutions and technology to ensure that you never miss a potential booking.
Engage Chinese travelers on social media platforms
For independent hotels, one of the most effective ways to get to the top of Chinese people’s minds is through social media platforms. Weibo is an open social media platform that is perfect for marketing independent hotels. WeChat is also a very powerful ecosystem in China.
Independent hotels need to stay active on these social media platforms as they are the main door openers to Chinese travellers.
Analytics: Inside the Fire Wall
Setting realistic expectations and constantly fine-tuning your online strategy for China is crucial. However, analytics are not as readily available for the China market as they are in many other countries.
It is important to get insights from all your online efforts so that you can identify opportunities that will make the branding exercise even more successful.
The Compass Edge “Go China” starter online branding package offers solutions to all of the above. In addition, you can participate in tailor made marketing campaigns, within bloggers’ articles for a soft sell, and have an important presence at major trade shows to compliment our online branding efforts.
Read more about our unique B2C marketing initiatives under GoHotelsGo