Like European and American visitors, Chinese holiday makers also use digital technologies, in particular social media, during and after their travels. However, some of the behaviours are drastically different from those of western consumers, as highlighted in a recently published survey by french hotel chain Accor. The Asia Pacific Social Media Monitor, a study among 5400 travellers across 11 countries in Asia, provided interesting insights for brands that aim to market themselves in China, one of the upcoming global source markets.
REAL-TIME AND MID-TRIP USAGE IS MAINSTREAM
A staggering 91% of Chinese travellers interact with social media at one point during their holiday trips. This rate of social media usage at the consumption stage is well above average, as travellers from more mature markets such Australia (25%) and New Zealand (32%) feature much lower social media engagement during trips. Also microblogging and mobile chat applications are highly popular among Chinese tourists. In this regard WeChat and Sina Weibo were identified as the top choices. This is a strong indicator for the fact that Chinese travellers are highly likely to share experiences with friends and relatives in near real-time. However, Facebook and Facebook’s Messenger service feature low adoption rates (ca 15% of Chinese consumers use these services), as the official censoring represents a major barrier for usage.
KEEN CUSTOMERS - LOYAL TO BRANDS
A significant opportunity for travel brands represents Chinese travellers’ customer engagement behaviour. The study finds above average levels of readiness to follow brands, including hotels, airlines and other travel related brands. However, the study suggested as well that loyalty behaviour is predominantly driven by a motivation to receive discounts and special offers.
POST TRAVEL SHARING BEHAVIOUR
Also in the post travel phase, Chinese travellers exhibit increased social media sharing of travel experiences. The report found that once they come back home from their trips uploading pictures is the number one activity. Travel experiences that are shared particularly often with their networks are culinary experiences and photos of hotel rooms.
In general the study underpins the importance of social media for Chinese consumers. However, travel brands wanting to tap into the opportunities for engaging with travellers during or after the trip must take the country specific channels into account that Chinese travellers use.
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