Chinese Tourism and Hospitality: Silk Road to Success

The Chinese tourism and hospitality industry is rapidly recovering as international travel booms after the global Covid-pandemic and following economic plunge and unrest.

Are you in the global hospitality business and aspire to team up with Chinese travel agencies and tour operators? Then this article is made for you.

Let the experts at China Gravy take you on a tour of this service-based industry. Learn how to win Chinese travels in China and abroad, and lift the vast potential of the tourism and hospitality industry in China.

Chinese Tourism and Hospitality

International travel and tourism are growing rapidly, positively impacting global GDPs and creating jobs. In fact, the total contribution of travel and tourism to gross domestic product (GDP) worldwide is estimated to rise to 15.5 trillion USD by 2033, equaling a 60% rise compared to 2023. This also positively affects China’s hotel market and tourism sector in general.

In 2022, the United States reported the highest total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP with 2 billion USD, followed by China (0.6 billion USD), and Germany (0.4 billion USD).

Likewise, the number of travel and tourism jobs worldwide is growing. It is projected that by 2033, 430 million jobs will be in the travel and tourism industry – that’s a 35% growth compared to 2023.

As a result, for businesses in tourism and hospitality, lifting the sheer endless potential of the travel and tourism industry in China is not just an opportunity but a necessity. So, let’s explore effective strategies to reach and engage Chinese audiences, fostering growth and boosting sales.

How to Leverage the Chinese Tourism and Hospitality Industry

To successfully tap into the Chinese market, brands need to understand the unique cultural, technological, and regulatory landscape. Tourism and hotel marketing in China is centered around the following three components:

  1. Localization and branding
  2. Digital marketing
  3. B2B partnerships

Let’s dive right in.

1. Localization and branding

With over 1 billion internet users in China (77% of the population), a robust digital presence is non-negotiable in the “Middle Kingdom”. In terms of localization, cultural-appropriate content transformation and translation of products and services is a must.

In fact, localization extends beyond language. Make sure to adapt your content to align with Chinese cultural norms and preferences. Showcase an understanding of local traditions, customs, and values, for example, the relevance of Traditional Chinese holidays. This contributes to fostering a sense of relatability that resonates with the target audience. 

2. Digital marketing

Consider organic search engine optimization (SEO) of content together with paid search engine marketing (PPC) as well as email boosts to activate your desired target audience.

While Google dominates the global search engine scene, Baidu is the go-to search engine in China. This is complemented by WeChat as a super-app for everything from social to business contacts. Utilize SEO and PPC marketing to boost your business on these platforms.

Effective SEO starts with comprehensive keyword research tailored to the Chinese audience. Optimize for Mandarin keywords, considering regional variations. Leverage tools like the Baidu Keyword Planner to identify high-ranking, industry-specific keywords. Incorporate these into your website content, meta tags, and headings.

PPC ads on Baidu are a fast and cost-effective way to increase your reach and leads, as well as to position your brand in China. 

Chinese Social Media

In terms of social platforms in China, Douyin (the Chinese TikTok), RED or Xiaohongshu, and Weibo are the leaders in this segment. The latest trends continue to center around live-streaming and KOL/influencer marketing.

Search Trend Example on Xiaohongshu

Here is an example of the search volume in the travel industry on Xiaohongshu in 2023 per month (January – November). The search trend shows a steady growth trend with peaks in May (Labour Day), over the summer (school holidays), and in October (National Day).

Data source: Xiaohongshu Business Data Center, 2023.1-2023.11

According to the same report, China’s top 3 domestic destinations in 2023 were Harbin, Nanjing, and Beijing, while overseas favorites were Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. In terms of activities, Chinese travelers enjoy entertainment (Disney and Universal Studios) as well as nature (mountains) the most.

3. B2B Partnerships

To establish impactful, mutually beneficial, and long-lasting Chinese B2B partnerships, consider following these steps

  1. Who do you want to work with and why
  2. Contact potential partners via WeChat or phone (email is not widely used in China)
  3. Establishing a good relationship (Guanxi) before talking business
  4. Discuss and formalize terms and conditions with utmost respect for your business partners
  5. Start with marketing and promotion activities
  6. Provide training and support to ensure cohesive implementation
  7. Monitor results regularly, and adjust activities as needed

This brings us to the end of this article on tourism marketing in China. Do you still want more? Take a look at these seven Chinese outbound travel trends.

The Takeaway – Chinese Tourism and Hospitality

Global hospitality businesses aspiring to tap into the Chinese market and gain Chinese customers can follow the three steps outlined above to be successful. Likewise, Chinese tourism providers wishing to expand locally and abroad can utilize these strategies.

Our team of experts is excited to help you take your hospitality business to the next level in China and/or with Chinese clients by 

  • identifying global travel trends relevant to your brand
  • determining the USPs of your business
  • researching and connecting you to prospective partners in China
  • crafting compelling business proposals and pitching them to key decision-makers
  • initiating collaboration and organizing strategic meetings with potential high-level partners

Contact China Gravy to redeem your FREE initial consultation.

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