China is the largest outbound market in the world with 136.5 million Chinese traveling abroad in 2017. The country’s outbound market is substantially larger than the US, which currently ranks second in terms of international departures.
With outbound travel and spending from China growing rapidly over the next five years, global tourist brands must leverage WeChat’s capabilities and wide reach to lure Chinese tourists, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.
The company’s case study, ‘WeChat Mini-programs’, states that WeChat, a Chinese multi-purpose social media mobile application software developed by tech giant Tencent, presents a promising channel for global tourist players looking to tap into the massive Chinese travel market.
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China’s growing middle class, along with the easing of visa restrictions around the world and more air connections are driving the outbound tourism boom. By 2021, China will remain by fat the first largest outbound market, with 61.2 million more outbound tourists than the US.
The growing willingness of Chinese to explore the world gives rise to a host of business opportunities for global tourist players. However, cultural and language differences often pose challenges to Western businesses while formulating marketing campaigns to target Chinese consumers.
Konstantina Boutsioukou, Associate Analyst for Travel and Tourism at GlobalData, says: “WeChat, with almost one billion active monthly users, has become embedded into the daily interactions and activities of Chinese people. Global tourism players must capitalize on the new features of WeChat to raise brand awareness and ultimately drive sales.”
WeChat Pay is the mobile payment unit of the social app. Of the 980 million WeChat users, it is estimated that 800 million are actively using WeChat Pay. Besides domestic payments, WeChat Pay can be used across 25 countries and it handles transactions in 13 currencies. A growing number of businesses and shops globally are considering signing up to WeChat Pay, to target high-spending Chinese tourists.
Boutsioukou concludes: “Though WeChat is a very promising channel to reach out to Chinese consumers, tourism boards must seek to form partnerships with Chinese travel agencies and ensure that they develop a detailed strategy, tailoring the content they publish to the preferences of the Chinese public.”