The Internet has become the most popular medium for Chinese travellers seeking information about their trips, according the latest Nielsen China Outbound Travel Monitor.
The Nielsen survey found that travellers will search for conventional destination information ahead of their trips (61 percent of leisure trips taken), and then turn to online travel discussion forums (48 percent) to fine-tune their plans. This suggests that opinions and comments about travel experiences posted to online forums are nearly as likely to influence travellers’ decisions as the destination websites themselves. Conventional travel agents were approached on only two in five travel occasions.
The Nielsen survey also found that travellers were much more likely to recall seeing Internet advertising for travel destinations, compared to seeing travel advertising on other mediums. Close to 70 percent could recall seeing travel advertisements on the Internet, with only four in 10 recalling seeing a travel advertisement in a magazine or newspaper, at a travel agent or on TV and radio.
The Nielsen China Outbound Travel Monitor also uncovered the media expenditure of the top 15 destinations for Chinese travellers as well as and spending by various destinations’ national and state tourism bodies. According to Nielsen, in 2008 the total destination media expenditure in China from the top 15 destinations (by visitor numbers) was close to US$68million. All the big spenders were in Asia Pacific. South Korea was the biggest spender, accounting for 31 percent of share of voice. Singapore was second (22 percent SoV), followed by New Zealand (15 percent SoV) and Australia (11 percent SoV).
Nielsen found that some destination tourism bodies advertised across all five major media formats to promote their destinations. For example, tourism bodies from South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia used all the major media styles in promoting their destinations to Chinese consumers. However, tourism bodies from European countries used mainly newspapers and magazines.
Nielsen estimates that only 1.55 percent of the total destination media expenditure was spent on Internet advertising. Moreover, there were a lot of countries that did not spend any money on Internet advertising. With the Internet the most widely used channel for information search, tourism boards at destinations would be well-advised to focus on advertising on the Internet.
John Koldowski, PATA’s Director, Strategic Intelligence Centre, said, “In today’s tough business environment, every dollar, euro or RMB invested needs to have the best possible ROI outcome attached to it. With these results showing that the largest proportion of China’s outbound travellers - both business and leisure - use the Internet as a pre-trip information tool, it makes sense that marketers should leverage that usage to increase the visibility of their own products and deals. The fact that the cost of doing so is minimal, relative to more traditional media formats, suggests that this is one way of achieving that much sought after balance - more consumer contact with higher product recall at a much lower unit cost.”