The economy in China is very changing, and this means our conceptions about it must do the same. The idea that a few blessed, rich Chinese venture out into the world with old cameras, following tour guides round historical monuments, is very far from reality.The fact is that travel and leisure are every important aspects of life for the Chinese.
Ninety three million (93,000,000) Chinese are expected to holiday next year, both within China, and abroad. This number of travelers is greater than the population of the UK and Holland put together. In fact you could add Ireland and Belgium comfortably within the example and still have some people left over.
My question here, and the question you may be asking is; “”Why are we not tapping into this market place with our travel businesses?
- Chinese holiday makers vary, as they do in any country. One observation however, is that there are many Chinese who holiday in countries where they can shop and buy products that are hard to get hold of or unavailable back home. The January sales in London in 2012/13 were made up of a large Chinese contingent looking to purchase brand goods at cheap prices.
- The actual rise in spending for travel abroad, on Union Pay, Chinas bank card system, was 33% for 2012. These numbers look set to increase for 2013.
How Can I Break Into the China Market?
The answer to the above question is; with the same marketing guile and strategy you would use in any other market place around the world, only you aim your campaign at the Chinese consumer. Here are a few things that could help you to gain a share of this lucrative market place.
- Partner up with an agency already selling holidays and agree some kind of affiliate commission. You will then have your products sold into an existing market place.
- Create a website that is in the native language of the people you are targeting. Cantonese for the Hong Kong area, and Mandarin for mainland China. Two sites for both languages would be the best idea. The site should be designed by someone who is able to create a site that is friendly for the Chinese consumer, as well as being written in their language by native speakers. Google translate is not going to cut the mustard here.
- Utilize solid SEO on Baidu, the Chinese search engine king pin, and also a varied advertising campaign on specific social media platforms within China, as well as Baidu itself. Chinese social media interaction accounts for 25% of the world’s social media interaction. That is enormous, and a great way to create a brand and open up a market place for your business. Baidu has around 450,000,000 users. Sina Weibo, akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, has around 400,000,000 users. A strong SEO and online marketing campaign will be very effective in allowing vast numbers of potential travellers to see what you can offer them.
- Target smaller provinces first. There are huge untapped markets there in a lot of cases, yet still large numbers of consumers with good money to spend. It is hard to contemplate just how vast this marketplace actually is. There is huge growth in many of the smaller regions of China. Effective online marketing campaigns in these areas can really help grow a brand and establish a business. Smaller Chinese regions and provinces need travel products as well as the big super Cities like Beijing.
By establishing your travel business online, and creating effective partnerships with existing travel operators, it is a real possibility to anchor your travel business within this massive market place. It’s advisable that you deal with a marketing agency that has experience of working within China, and can offer you sound advice and solid strategy specifically for its consumers. You will also need to have an agency that can help you through any licence or litigation issues, to make sure that your trading position is official and authorized from a Chinese perspective.
It is easier than you may think to set yourself up and promote yourself into this magnificent country. You do not have to have a base within China to benefit from those who are purchasing travel products online there. You could be increasing your company turnover within China from the same offices that you are trading from at the moment. Such is the power of the internet and internet marketing. What are you waiting for?
About the author: Dan Vassiliou is CEO of Endurance Seo, and helps companies to create effective online marketing campaigns to break into emerging market places. He has been involved in SEO and Online Marketing for over 12 years now. Endurance Seo can help find you the necessary partners and authority backing to successfully operate within China and many other emerging markets.
Image credit: Macau – courtesy Kevin Jaako