Published on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top tips on how to attract Chinese tourists

ETOA hosted its first Chinese European Marketplace in Shanghai last week. Here, its head of event strategy Arran Wiltshire, shares his top tips on how to work with China.

- The Chinese outbound travel market is highly regulated. Foreign-owned travel agencies can't sell outbound travel products directly from within China. They need to sell through online channels or use Chinese companies as intermediaries.

- Establish official Chinese social media accounts and Chinese-language landing pages for websites. Well-known social media channels are Weibo and WeChat; booking channels include Qunar and eLong while Mafenguo and Qiongyou are preferred travel communities and review sites. European businesses need to actively interact with customers in terms of comments and reviews.

- Provide Chinese-language menus and staff who can welcome visitors in Chinese Jennifer Cormack, sales and marketing director of Windermere Lake Cruises, a company which has grown its group bookings from China by 286% since 2016, says: "We hired a social media specialist to make sure we have a Chinese website (.cn); Chinese landing pages on our English website and officially registered Chinese social media platforms."

- There is a growing demand for personalisation, tailor-made travel packages and themed travel products such as outdoor and adventure sports including skiing and scuba diving and sports events such as football games in European leagues. Cormack said: "We ensure we have different messages for different markets. Our visitors who come in groups normally can't speak English, younger travellers can and they travel independently,~ stay longer and want more immersive experiences such as glamping and adventure."

- Combine history and culture with contemporary elements. Europe's rich cultural heritage is a main attraction, but many experience 'aesthetic fatigue' - so combining something more contemporary like film or TV locations can be good. The Beatles Story - the world's largest permanent exhibition purely devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles - has been working with the Chinese market for five years and now it is their fastest growing market - and forward bookings suggest this will continue. It offers complimentary audio media guides in Mandarin and Cantonese and has a Chinese landing page for its website; Weibo and WeChat accounts and Chinese marketing collateral and signage throughout the attraction.

- Combine authenticity with convenience. Free Wi-Fi connection are taken for granted. Thierry Scheers from restaurant Chez Leon says: "Keep it authentic and simple. We are a Belgian restaurant with traditional food. Don't make your menu - la Chinese."

- Chinese travellers like having access to slippers, kettles and Chinese breakfasts in hotels.

- Peak travel times for Chinese citizens are in August and during the holidays around Chinese New Year (often in early February) and National Day in October.

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