Destinations need to go beyond the website to reach Chinese travelers
Traditional websites are becoming a thing of the past in China as mobile, social, and peer-to-peer networks dominate the digital ecosystem.
The growing amount of travel-related information and inspiration available on mobile apps such as WeChat, Weibo, Ctrip, Fliggy (Alibaba’s travel service platform), Mafengwo, and live streaming and video platforms such as Douyin, Yizhibo, Huajiao, and Miaopai means that the influence of traditional websites is declining.
The Chinese traveler journey starts and ends on mobile
By the end of 2017, there were 772 million internet users in China, accounting for over 55% of the country’s population. Of these internet users, 753 million - or 97.5% - are mobile internet users. On average, they go online for 26.5 hours each week on their mobile phones. A staggering 35% of that time is spent on WeChat.
Mobile is now key to every phase of the Chinese traveler journey, from when they initially seek inspiration, to when they plan and book, to when they share their experiences through social media once the trip ends.
Digging into digital platform usage across the Chinese travelers journey
Chinese travelers use different digital platforms on their mobile devices depending on what phase they’re in on their journey. These platforms are not only well-developed and user-friendly, but contain an abundance of insightful and helpful quality content, often coming from real people and fellow travelers.
One of the main factors driving the popularity of platforms such as Qyer and Mafengwo is that user-generated content accounts for so much of the information available through them. This type of content is often seen as more trustworthy than content from official brands. For example, there are 135,000 travel blogs generated monthly on Mafengwo, accounting for two-thirds of all online travel blogs in China, as well as 415,000 travel Q&As added each month. Mafengwo claims more than 100 million registered users are contributing and consuming its content, and its mobile app has nearly 4 million active monthly users, according to online data company Analysis Qianfan.
WeChat infiltrates nearly every aspect of daily life in China
Travel brands looking to grasp the nuances of China’s digital ecosystem need to understand that unlike traditional social media platforms, WeChat is a peer-to peer-network first. Through WeChat Pay, users can pay their utility bills, book medical appointments, purchase movie tickets, or even order food delivery, all without ever leaving the app.
There are also “Official Accounts” that allow companies, organizations, and high-profile individuals to establish a presence on the platform, share content with audiences, and communicate with customers.
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