Discover the latest Chinese outbound travel trends impacting industries beyond tourism. More and more vacationers find themselves shopping or connecting with brands in new ways throughout their travels.
According to the China outbound tourism research institute, Chinese tourists spent more than 250 billion USD in 2019, more than any other nation in the world. Their favorite tourist destinations abroad include Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand, the US, and the UK.
In general, the trend among Chinese outbound travelers is away from group travel and towards individual journeys. This is where you can help them to have their best holiday experience with the services of your business.
In this article, China Gravy, the Chinese digital marketing agency of your choice, presents the top online travel trends so you can better understand how to market to Chinese tourists.
Latest Chinese Outbound Travel Trends
To begin with, let’s look at the latest trends when it comes to Chinese outbound travel.
- Online Blogs & Forums
- Working with Influencers
- Automation Features
- Payment via Mobile Phones
- Unique Experiences and Intrepid Journeys
- Live Streaming
Lift the potential of the Chinese travel market! Discover how your business can keep up with the latest digitalization and marketing strategies fact-based on data and analysis.
1. Top Chinese Outbound Travel Trend: Online Blogs & Forums
Let’s kick off the Chinese outbound travel trends and meet the future of travel!
These days, travelers aren’t just going to more places. They are also expanding their options to trip planning resources. Traditional travel agencies rely on human interaction. Interested travelers can call, visit websites, or stop by in person to browse through pre-arranged travel packages. Several of these customers might ask for a travel agent to build a trip customized to their preferences and budget.
Get Started with a Chinese Website
Hence, if you want to promote your products and services to vacationers, being active in travel forums, and having your Chinese outbound travel-related blog on your Chinese website is an important first step.
Making a website for the Chinese market is not difficult, you just have to consider a few technical and content-related aspects. Particularly consider hosting, Chinese language, speed, and removing blocked services.
Starting with a website for the Chinese market is also helpful if you are new in this market and first want to “test the waters” without major investments. You can gradually scale up as your business grows.
Chinese Outbound Travel Trends: Use Case for Reaching Chinese Travelers with a Chinese Website
- A website in Chinese allows you to work with local partners and agents in China at an affordable budget. Your partners can use the content from your website and acquire Chinese tourists for you at a commission.
- It allows you to run PPC ads, for example, on Baidu, to generate leads directly.
- You can optimize your Chinese site for search engines like Baidu via SEO to increase your brand awareness and generate direct leads.
- With a Chinese website you can further generate awareness through dispaly ads on partner sites of Baidu and Sogou.
Let’s look at the next Chinese travel trend!
2. Working with Influencers
The second Chinese outbound travel trend is influencer marketing. More recently, bloggers and entrepreneurial social media influencers have also joined the travel industry. They have invented a business model around recommending everything about travel.
Chinese in particular love the online world, especially so with the Covid-pandemic and being bombarded with an abundance of digital information every day. More and more Chinese consumers rely on Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) for purchasing advice. This includes international travel, where consumers rely on inspiration and practical tips.
Holidaymakers who lack time, passion, or inspiration to sort through the abundance of travel-related information online, appreciate the content of influencers. They drive their audiences to new travel destinations, tourist products, and ways of exploring culture and businesses.
They cater to their followers’ desire to have a trusted face on lifestyle experiences and products instead of following generic advertising campaigns.
3. Automation Features
The Chinese outbound travel trends don’t just stop at the departure. Online boarding passes and check-in have become the norm, but there are some practical new trends on the horizon.
One of the newest air travel trends is the use of recognition technology. By now, many airports provide e-Gates for immigration. People can simply swipe their residency cards or passports. Then, they step into an automated stall, give a fingerprint, and take a picture.
This opens the gate and allows the traveler to enter the country. As a result, the process for regular travelers who have to speak with an immigration officer is quicker.
At their destination, holidaymakers can choose accommodations with digital features. For example, digital room keys that can be accessed from a smartphone are quick, easy, and safe. For added safety, some accommodations may use facial or fingerprint recognition technology.
More and more accommodations are offering Internet of Things (IoT) technology. This basically connects everyday objects to the internet. For instance, a guest is able to control the lights or AC in the room through his or her smartphone.
Some hotels use apps to allow their guests to book spas or order room service. The IoT and mobile app integration provide guests with more independence and flexibility. They can remotely monitor and control their environment and modify their travel plans.
Tech-savvy Chinese love how the hospitality industry is transforming the ways they provide customer service – from leisure to business travel.
4. Payment via Mobile Phones
The rise of e commerce has pushed many businesses to recognize a move toward cashless societies. In fact, in 2021, 79% of smartphone users in China use digital payment systems. Already today, 577 million Chinese consumers use AliPay and WeChat Pay.
These mobile payments systems use QR code technology to link to a consumer’s WeChat Pay or AliPay wallet. Chinese customers use this technology while traveling. This way, they don’t have to carry large amounts of foreign currency with them.
So, how is this a Chinese outbound travel trend? For example, the Dubai Mall allows Chinese visitors to use AliPay for their purchases. Moreover, some airports like the Munich Airport accept AliPay and WeChat Pay to pay for tickets. Both of these payment systems support tax refunds in about 80 airports worldwide. Travelers can pay with AliPay and WeChat Pay in 40 countries around the world.
5. Unique Experiences and Intrepid Journeys
More and more vacationers are looking for personalized and unique experiences. They wish to experience travel beyond the normal scope of tourism.
In fact, Covid allowing, many young adults are opting for intrepid journeys or around-the-world travels for long periods of time beyond regular vacation time. Whether coffee culture or organic farming is the traveler’s focal point, the internet connects travelers and locals.
Moreover, these new ways of traveling and connecting with the globe also apply to families and business professionals. For example, co-working and co-living spaces around the world bring short-term and long-term travelers together as a community.
Chinese Outbound Travel Trends: Digital Nomads
While most travelers will not work on vacations, more people are switching to remote jobs that they can also do while traveling. This has given rise to the idea of “digital nomads”, combining working with world travel.
Whether in the bustle of city centers or down a sleepy beach street, more spaces are popping up to facilitate vacationers with a desire to co-work with others, including great Wi-Fi connections. These spaces often host events and promote themselves through social media platforms or mobile phone apps.
While you may not picture Chinese citizens as typical digital nomads, this Western trend is becoming increasingly popular among the young generation in the Middle Kingdom. With their high purchasing power, the young and emerging middle class is a high-potential consumer group. Therefore, Chinese digital nomads are a hot Chinese outbound travel trend.
Outbound Travel Trends in China: Family Travel
The emergence of digital technology has also reinvented the idea that families cannot travel for longer periods of time. Family vacations during school breaks seem to be a thing of the past. Technological advances grant families the power to choose nomadic family learning travels if they like.
Terms like “unschooling” and “edventure” underline the power of digital technology. They allow families to travel and educate their children at the same time. Family gap years are becoming increasingly popular. At the same time, many families document their experiences using social media platforms. New travel agents are surfacing to support this new travel trend, often in the form of road trips.
Around the world, these digital assets are on the rise. In fact, the global blockchain market is expected to grow to 60 billion USD by 2024. At the same time, global spending on blockchain tech is expected to grow to almost 16 billion USD by 2023.
In the meantime, cryptocurrency has also arrived in the travel industry. For example, Travala was only founded in 2017 and is also available in Chinese language. Today, it has already become the world’s leading blockchain-based travel booking platform. Thousands of customers worldwide choose it as their preferred online travel agency. The demand for their native cryptocurrency, the AVA Token (BEP-2 token standard), is expected to grow in line with platform expansion.
Cryptocurrency in China
The Middle Kingdom is notoriously known for its strict internet censorship. At present, Bitcoin is blocked and all cryptocurrency transactions are declared illegal.
In 2020, China started testing its own electronic currency, the digital Yuan (e-CNY). This way, the government is directly competing with private digital payment services (the main ones being WeChat Pay and AliPay) and global cryptocurrencies.
For example, JD.com, one of China’s largest e commerce players, allows its customers to buy items with the digital Yuan.
So, how is the e-CNY a Chinese outbound travel trend? For now, as the digital Yuan is being rolled out, it will be primarily used for retail payments in China.
If you have a Chinese website, consider offering e-CNY as a payment option in the future. Plus, as the digital Yuan will be rolled out further, it may also be accepted at international currency exchange points, airports, hotels, and other global touristic points of interest.
7. Live Streaming
Broadcasting directly from an event or special location is a growing online trend. Now, live streaming is also transforming the digital travel industry.
Vacationers don’t have to sit down and write forum posts or reviews of their trips, the hotels, and the events they attended. They also don’t have to upload photos anymore.
Instead, they can show everything they want to their friends, family, and strangers through a live stream. They also can boast about their visit to a particularly exquisite restaurant, hotel, or experience. This especially appeals to China’s young and emerging middle class.
What does this mean for you?
Make it easy for Chinese travelers to show their family and friends that they have an amazing time overseas. If you are in the hospitality industry, make sure there is high-speed WiFi at your hotel, restaurant, or another point of interest. Create an “instagrammable” and fun atmosphere with interactive experiences, backdrops, mirrors, plants, motivational quotes, hashtags, lounge areas, and more to create an inspirational and inviting environment.
This brings us to the end of the latest Chinese outbound travel trends. Do you still want more information? Let’s look at the marketing aspects which we haven’t already covered for the Chinese market including mainland China and the Greater China Region (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Macau).
Chinese Outbound Travel Trends: How to Market to Chinese Tourists
Now that we know the Chinese outbound travel trends, let’s take a look at how to reach Chinese tourists from the comfort of your office.
Consider Chinese Culture
A few things to keep in mind are the unique Chinese culture and the Chinese calendar with special Chinese holidays like the Spring Festival. Besides, remember to focus on building trust – Chinese people are literally bombarded with information and advertising.
A China expert like China Gravy can help you to better understand Chinese culture and prepare yourself and your business with individual and customized trainings.
Chinese Social Media
As many Western platforms are blocked in the Middle Kingdom, Chinese social media platforms are THE method of choice to attract Chinese tourists. WeChat, of course, is the most popular one with many functions for every consumer’s needs.
Social media marketing offers great functions to create experiences around international and Chinese tourism. You will have to stand out to attract more Chinese holidaymakers and outbound tourists. Influencers will help you to target Chinese tourists. Learn all about WeChat marketing in great detail here.
Chinese Search Engines
Besides providing relevant content, ensure that Chinese search engines (Baidu, Sogou) rank your products and services well. Use China SEO including technical optimization of your website and China PPC to do so.
Chinese travelers typically start their search for travel arrangements on search engines or specialized travel platforms with ctrip.com being the most popular one in the Middle Kingdom.
Founded in 1999, ctrip.com is the largest online travel agency in China and among the largest travel service providers worldwide. Services include flight and travel tickets, accommodation, tours, and corporate travel.
You can list your business there and run ads.
Travel post Covid
As the Coronavirus is changing our world, many travel aspects are changing compared to pre-pandemic. However, digitalization is unstoppable and the above trends continue with energy and impact post virus.
If anything, Covid-19 is magnifying existing issues, many of which can be overcome with digitization. Travel restrictions are gradually being lifted thanks to Covid-19 testing, vaccinations, hygiene concepts, and social distancing.
The Takeaway – Chinese Outbound Travel Trends
Not only are travelers changing how they plan their journeys, but also the ways in which they choose to travel. Businesses that adjust to the new preferences of their clients have a head start over their competition.
Having a Chinese website and travel blog, being up-to-date with the latest digital features are crucial to reach Chinese travelers. Meet them on Chinese search engines, engage with them on Chinese social media, and make their purchasing decision as easy as possible, e.g. with suitable payment options.
The latest Chinese outbound travel trends highlight the significance of digitalization and digital marketing strategies around the world – for targeting China’s outbound and the international tourism market.
PS: If you are a short-term rental owner outside of China, click here to discover 6 ways to get Chinese travelers on Airbnb & Co.