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At this year’s DTTT Global, the topic of conversation is ‘The Future of Travel’ and a strong theme recurring throughout the programme is the steady rise of the Asian market. Asia and the Pacific play a vital role in global tourism, accounting for 37% of the world’s international tourism expenditure and demographically, accounting for more than half of the population on the planet according to the latest UNWTO/GTERC tourism trends report.   

China has been the most powerful force behind this significant growth, constituting the largest economy in Asia, and the world’s highest spender in international tourism, therefore dominating the outbound tourism market. Consequently, Chinese travellers are fast becoming, if not already, the world’s most significant, influential and important market within the travel industry today.

The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) predicts that overseas trips by Chinese residents will increase from 145m in 2017 to more than 400m by 2030. This considerable rise is making waves in the tourism industry, opening new avenues of opportunity throughout. Therefore it goes without saying that DMOs worldwide should be adapting their strategies to capture this highly influential market to avoid missing out on the high potential for future growth.

As we all know, the key to a successful marketing strategy is understanding your core market, and in this case, understanding the Chinese traveller market. Firstly, it’s important to recognise that the economic growth in China is not the only contributing factor to this notable rise in outbound travel.

Here are some of the key factors to consider when it comes to engaging with this audience.

Technology

It is common knowledge that many global social media platforms are prohibited in China. As a result, DMOs are partnering with equivalent social Chinese platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, Baidu and Ctrip to provide travel information, personal recommendations and exclusive insights for the ever discerning traveller. Youku is the equivalent to YouTube, Baidu - Google Search, Twitter - Weibo, and WeChat began as a messaging app much like WhatsApp, however, it has now evolved into a fully multi-purpose application for messaging, social media and mobile payments. 

With this in mind, DMOs should ensure they are present and actively engaging with the market across these particular platforms. A key opportunity here is the ability to communicate with potential visitors online before they visit. As the market is now so driven to travel, this puts destinations in a hugely positive position as there is the possibility to reach out to this audience during the dreaming stage of the customer journey.

Therefore it is essential to digitalise your service, making information, experiences and activities accessible and bookable. 

Language & Culture

The key to these technology collaborations is that all the information can be provided in Chinese and tailor-made to specific interests such as local experiences. Using native apps and search engines allows DMOs to better equip themselves in directly communicating and supporting Chinese visitors as seamlessly as possible. For example, Geneva Tourism has effectively incorporated Chinese platforms throughout the customer journey by recreating an entire microsite of the destination website translated in Chinese within WeChat, while using Ctrip to effectively drive people to WeChat for further information and booking. 

However, do bear in mind that some copy may not directly translate, especially when considering the different dialects throughout China. Even some of the biggest international brands haven't always got it right, so always be sure to review the information and double check it makes sense!

The Millennials

The millennial traveller is an important segment to consider within the Asian market, now and for the future. They are the educated younger generation with higher expectations, social media savvy and heavily influenced by such when it comes to planning where and when they would like to visit a destination. They are keen to share exactly where they are and what they’re doing, tagging locations and venues throughout their trip. This is an invaluable tool for DMOs.

They are attracted to unique and local experiences, seeking adventure and opting to travel ‘off the beaten track’, rather than just visiting popular landmarks and attractions. This also reflects their changing values and behaviour, taking into consideration factors such as sustainable tourism and the increasing desire for memorable moments.

This runs parallel with the growing experience sector, so it is crucial for DMOs to continue to develop their experiential product offering if they haven’t done so already. Travellers are no longer interested in visiting a list of landmarks and attractions, they want to experience the destination as a local; go where the locals go, eat what the locals eat and completely immerse themselves in the local culture.

The Independent Traveller

initially, Asian tourists would travel in groups with tour guides and structured itineraries, however now the market has shifted from group travel to Free Independent Travel. According to the UNWTO/GTERC tourism trends report, “The share of package tours was 46% in 2017 while Free Independent Travellers (FITs) accounted for the balance 54%. FITs doubled their share since 2010. While package tours are popular with senior citizens the younger generation represented by the millennials, opt for customized independent travel.

It is important for DMOs to understand this type of traveller in terms of values, preferences, priorities and expectations in order to provide the tailor-made service they are seeking. These consumers are highly informed and present in the digital world, therefore it is essential to stay active across social platforms and continually stay on top of travel trends in this rapidly changing space.

Join us at DTTT Global on the 29th and 30th of November to find out how different DMOs are already adapting their strategies to attract the growing Asian market. Hoor Alkhaja from Dubai Tourism will be discussing how DMOs can spot opportunities, identify where to look and what tools to use, while Helsinki Marketing and Tencent will talk about how they have joined forces in order to attract new visitors to Finland's capital city through WeChat. To name a few! We hope to see you there!

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