The Chinese travel more and spend more than any other nation: So is your marketing ‘China ready’?

With cultural differences and language barriers to overcome, how exactly can travel brands outside of China tap into the country’s huge pool of tourists – who are just hungry for new experiences abroad? iClick Interactive has the answers with its digital marketing roadmap, as proven by the case of the Armani Hotel Dubai

The skyrocketing numbers of Chinese citizens engaged in outbound tourism mean the demographic represents immense revenue growth opportunities for both destinations and travel brands outside of the country itself.

But just how much are the numbers skyrocketing? Well, to answer that question, let’s start by going back in time to 2001. At that time, Chinese residents made 10.5 million overseas trips annually. In 2017, they made 130 million trips abroad. That is an astonishing increase of 1,238 per cent.

China also leads global outbound travel in terms of money spent. The overseas spending of Chinese tourists was about US$10 billion in 2000, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. In 2017, that figure reached an astounding US$115 billion.

China has gone from travel minnow to travel whale, leaping ahead of Western countries including even the United States in terms of volume of tourists and levels of spending.

Their preferences are diverse too. Some prefer traveling in groups with packages. And some opt for more individualised globetrotting, making all their own arrangements.

In fact, leisure is the top objective for Chinese tourists when they travel overseas, closely followed by food experiences, shopping, romantic getaways and adventure – as revealed by a Nielsen survey conducted in 2017.

But that’s not the whole picture. As you would expect, the Chinese people greatly enjoy going to exhibitions, musical performances and sports events as well as unwinding at local bars or heading to a spa.

However, it’s true that Chinese tourists spend the most of their money on shopping regardless of

The destination – followed by accommodation and then dining. Millennials tends to spend more time visiting attractions and dining, whereas those born in the 1970s have prefer shopping or relaxing at high-end hotels.

Surprisingly though, duty-free outlets were the most popular shopping spot for two-thirds of the older generation Chinese tourists. Those born in the 1980s and 1990s meanwhile liked to shop in beauty stores and pharmacies.

This is, however, not true across the board. For example, in Japan, department stores and pharmacies are a lot more popular for Chinese shoppers. In Taiwan, convenience stores and gift shops are the more visited. And in the US, luxury stores and discount retail stores stand out from the crowd.

Aside from the usual factors of discount, price and quality, payment methods supported by local merchants crucially influence spending decisions. Want to engage Chinese tourists? Then you better tap into mobile and the internet as soon as possible. Otherwise, you just are not going to be ‘China-ready’.

Indeed, according to Nielsen some 65 per cent of Chinese tourists use mobile payments now, compared with just 11 per cent of non-Chinese tourists. To research destinations and plan trips, Chinese travellers make use of travel websites and blogs, as well as social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat.

So let us tell you about iClick Interactive and how we might help you. As the largest independent online marketing technology platform in China, we have helped numerous brands around the world to reach their target audiences effectively and timely using our proprietary marketing technology platform. It reaches 98 per cent of China’s online community.

And to get specific with an example, the Armani Hotel Dubai is one of the brands that have achieved digital success with the help of our data-driven approach.

For Dubai has been gearing up to welcome the growing wave of Chinese visitors. Actually, Chinese nationals are eligible for a 30-day visa-on-arrival in the United Arab Emirates. This level of convenience meant Dubai attracted 91 per cent of the Chinese tourists who visited the UAE in 2017.

But what are the challenges? Well, while the Armani Hotel Dubai was ready with its upgraded facilities and sumptuous offering, what it lacked was a deep understanding of Chinese travellers.

For of course there are huge cultural differences and language barriers to overcome for starters, especially when it comes to running digital marketing campaigns.

The hotel needed a partner to fill in the gaps and quick. This is where iClick came in as the natural partner, with the knowhow and experience to help.

Trying to push through any marketing campaign in China without local expertise and connections is a mistake. It will cost twice as much and the results will be half as good. So we tailored an optimised solution for the hotel to increase brand awareness and booking rates.

We utilised our proprietary information and trade connections that took decade to nurture, supported by our dedicated and knowledgeable global and local teams.

We engaged China’s most popular mobile apps, social networks and websites including WeChat and Weibo – in order to improve reach. This mean the Armani Hotel Dubai’s message was delivered to the desired segments in an organic way.

As a result of our unrivaled technological and execution strengths, the ads of Armani Hotel Dubai were delivered in an omnichannel manner. This raised brand awareness and garnered interest from Chinese consumers.

Subsequently, the Armani Hotel Dubai saw a surge in its conversion rate. During the campaign, the Armani Hotel Dubai brand was connected with 87 per cent of Chinese mobile users.

So impressed was the hotel general manager Mark Kirby, he said of the experience: “Tapping into the opportunities from China is the wish of every hospitality brand around the world. At the same time, there are huge challenges to overcome.

“We don’t understand the market well, but the iClick team is very knowledgeable about marketing in China. And they truly understand our business goals. They were able to help us immensely to expand our marketing channels.

“It has been a really effective way for us to get Chinese travellers and to tap into such a huge market.”

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