International business Travel companies
Fans of Visit California's Weibo page can participate in a quiz that will qualify them to win a trip to California. Visit California
Let’s say your company has a great social media department with thousands of Twitter followers and tens of thousands of Facebook likes. Your global marketing plan may be fantastic for 80 percent of the world, but what about the 20 percent that live in China where Facebook and Twitter are replaced by state-controlled Renren and Sina Weibo?
A recent report from the think tank L2 found that Hong Kong-based Shangri-La was the only hotel company with a high digital IQ in the Chinese market. Some brands like the Ritz Carlton only joined Sina Weibo this month, while others such as Marriott, Hilton and Intercontinental have had only “average” success, according to the report.
On the flipside, some 90 percent of the world’s country tourism boards have launched accounts on the Twitter-like platform, with Your Singapore and Visit Britain being the most influential of the pack.
Visit California has, on a smaller scale, been particularly successful in its outreach over Chinese social media - so much so that it has become the top U.S. destination for Chinese visitors with 47.5 percent of the market share. The tourism board launched a massive $1.6 million campaign this past spring to keep the momentum up, replete with a competition on its Sina Weibo page promoted by the Garden State’s first tourism ambassador from Mainland China, model-actress Gao Yuayuan (who has more than 20 million Sina Weibo followers herself).
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capitalize on the rapid growth in outbound tourism from China, ” Visit California president and CEO Caroline Beteta said, announcing the new campaign. “Tourism is a powerful economic engine in California and China will become our number one overseas market in 2013, with over $2 billion in annual spending projected.”
Hotels Change Their Amenities
Select Starwood brands offer personalized travel for Chinese tourists. Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Japanese travelers compelled hotels to offer more rooms with twin beds or provide baths instead of showers, but the Chinese have their own unique travel habits that experts say hotels will need to adapt to if they really want to attract the Chinese market. First, they’ll need to provide amenities including slippers, a kettle, instant noodles and chopsticks. Second, hotels should consider a Chinese-language TV channel and have printed information such as maps and brochures in simplified Chinese. Lastly, if it’s a larger hotel, there should be someone on staff who can speak Mandarin.