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WeGoEU – Connecting Chinese travellers to Europe through WeChat

December 19, 2019

WeGoEU is a joint venture between KPN and The Sunway Group which successfully connects European and Chinese markets when travelling, to facilitate seamless travel for Chinese travellers through the power of technology.

The WeChatGo Europe Mini Program connects the WeChat environment to Europe, enabling Chinese travellers to use their native apps when in Europe, exactly as they would at home. This provides travellers with the opportunity to connect directly with the destination and discover everything it has to offer in one convenient place. For DMOs and other service providers within the tourism industry, this provides a valuable platform on which to directly reach this key audience.

We are really excited to be partnering with WeGoEU for #DTTTGlobal this year, so we caught up with the team in the meantime to share a bit more about the joint venture with WeChat and the importance of the Chinese market.

Why Chinese travellers?

Over the years, the Chinese market continues to grow at a rapid pace, and Chinese travellers are fast becoming, if not already, the world’s most influential and important market within the travel industry today.

According to the UNWTO, in 2016, 5.7 million mainland Chinese tourists travelled to Europe, about 5% of China’s total outbound travel. Of this amount, almost 3.5 million (3%) were trips to European Union destinations. In 2019, International tourism arrivals grew 4% in the first half of the year, led by the Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%), largely fueled by Chinese outbound travel.

Furthermore, characteristics of the Chinese traveller has changed significantly; shifting from traditional group travel to FIT (Free Independent Travellers), the increase in the desire to travel and wealth. The Chinese market is the world’s biggest spenders within the tourism space.

The share of group travellers was 46% in 2017 while Free Independent Travellers (FITs) accounted for the remaining 54%. FITs doubled their share since 2010. While group travel and package tours remain popular with senior citizens, millennials opt for personalised independent travel and unique experiences.

Traditionally, Chinese travellers would travel in groups and they would tend to book everything throughout their whole trip in advance. Nowadays, they tend to book activities and experiences independently and WeGo discovered, more frequently in-destination, and for this reason, it is crucial to connect at the right time and in the right place.

How does it work?

In China, WeChat is the go-to lifestyle application where everything from everyday communication to ordering food and banking takes place, made possible by WeChat Pay. Everyone who has a mobile phone in China will use WeChat, which is why is has over one billion active users.

It is not hard to see why the opportunity to reach this audience is so lucrative, and WeChatGo Europe Mini Program’s make this entirely possible. The concept has been designed so it can be rolled out across the industry in Europe, providing the opportunity for companies and DMOs to develop their own mini programmes within WeChat, effectively creating an app within the app, to directly reach Chinese FITs.

The user-friendly CMS means the DMO only needs to worry about its content and offer, no coding or programming needed, and the whole navigation system is completely customised for the company and tailored to the audience.

There is also an API store with a range of services available to use in the mini programme such as transport services, hotel booking, restaurant booking etc. This enables DMOs to connect its destination services to its mini programme, and effectively help Chinese visitors to easily discover and experience everything it has to offer.

Why it works

The main benefit is that the mini programme removes all possible barriers in the travel experience, which is truly critical for travel today. Consumers across the board are becoming more and more demanding of what they expect from services, ease of access to information and convenience.

The mini programme lives within WeChat, an app most Chinese people will already have and use daily. This means they do not have to download any new apps or change their normal form of communication or routine in any way.

The programme also provides access to information source in Chinese, removing any language barriers that may create any hesitation when booking or researching.

Furthermore, the WeGoEU team have Chinese marketing experts in-house providing first-hand knowledge and insights of the target audience. With these insights, they know that the Chinese traveller seeks local experiences, enjoys special offers and engages more with brands and merchants who have a unique story to tell. It’s really important to connect with Chinese travellers in a way that they understand and value so content marketing is really important here.

They also utilise an agile and growth hacking approach, a data-driven way of maximising revenue. In this way, the team are able to experiment with different ideas and trends and activate A/B testing when designing creatives and campaigns. This is done via an experiment board which successfully visualises the growth funnel and everything that is needed to achieve this growth through a very clear process, identifying what works and what doesn’t work, backed by data insights to ensure it is effective.

A great example to illustrate this was on a project with a client when creating an advertising campaign for the WeChat mini programme. Through the process of growth hacking and testing, WeGoEU discovered that a completely different creative variation worked for this market which was completely different from what both the client and design team proposed. In this case, the campaign took a completely different direction but what’s important here is that the process identified what works for the key market, which is essential.

Sustainable Tourism

As the Chinese market is by no means slowing down, and of course European destinations want to continue to attract it, the issue of sustainability cannot be overlooked. Creating a mini programme enables cities and tourist attractions to effectively manage the number of tourists by connecting the offline and online experience.

The mini programme can educate visitors about different aspects of a destination, as well as develop interactive mapping to create new routes, dispersing visitors around the whole destination and preventing overcrowding. One way of connecting this experience is via QR codes. As mentioned previously, Chinese travellers enjoy the local experience and special offers. Using recognisable QR codes prompts Chinese visitors to engage, and seamlessly connects the online and offline experience via the mini programme.

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