Social media and online platforms prove the key to accessing the China market

29 August, 2017

Tourism boards, airlines and hotels and basically any company around today are embracing social media and online platforms in order to tap into the lucrative China market.

In a bid to access one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, social media channels such as WeChat, and online travel platforms like Alibaba’s Fliggy, are allowing these organisations easy access to hundreds of millions of users daily.

WeChat accounts for 938 million monthly active users, 94% of whom use the mobile app daily, and 600 million daily payment transactions globally, while Alibaba Group has over 507 million mobile active users. The numbers are quite astounding.

Tourism Australia MD and CEO John O'Sullivan, speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit, stated that China is a "mobile led market", adding that if a company is not on mobile it is not going to get market share in China - "it's a flat fact". Mr O'Sullivan advised travel companies to invest in WeChat, which he refers to as the "Chinese consumer’s universe".

Amadeus Asia Pacific recently conducted a study to identify when and how travellers plan and book their trips, how and why they want to stay connected while travelling, how frequently they use sharing economy services, and the types of new technologies they would be most interested in.

The study, known as ’Journey of Me Insights: What Asia Pacific travellers want’ study, found that 62% of Australian and 70% of New Zealand travellers prefer to receive updates and recommendations about their trip through email.

Chinese travellers, on the other hand, are most likely to prefer to be contacted via messaging services like WeChat (41%). Amadeus Asia Pacific President Albert Pozo believes the travel industry can only thrive if there is a better understanding of who our travellers are, what they want and how to access them.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has implemented WeChat payment

On 24-Aug-2017 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines implemented WeChat payment functionality for ticket bookings. WeChat Pay accounts for about 40% of all mobile transactions in China.

KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers stated: "We believe we should be where our customers are. In China, we therefore have to be on WeChat". KLM has estimated towards 20% to 30% of its Chinese customers to be already using the platform for payment.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines director social Karlijn Vogel-Meijer has stated that WeChat is "a platform that is completely integrated in the lives of Chinese people... It was very logical for us as an airline to allow customers to pay their most preferred way".

Qantas to open direct online booking presence on Fliggy

Earlier in Aug-2017, Qantas announced a new agreement with Alibaba Group's online travel service platform, Fliggy, which allows customers to book Qantas flights directly on the site.

Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans and Fliggy VP Jerry Hu signed an MoU to establish a strategic relationship which also has scope for joint marketing campaigns to Alibaba Group's 507 million mobile active users. Mr Evans said a partnership with Fliggy makes it easier for a large number of potential customers to purchase Qantas flights.

New TIA partnership with PayPlus

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) has also announced a new marketing partnership with PayPlus NZ, providing local tourism operators direct access to the Chinese visitor market through WeChat.

PayPlus will act as TIA's preferred WeChat service provider and will offer the Chinese visitors the opportunity to engage, learn about, explore and pay for things in the same way they do in China. Incredibly, the partnership will also allow travellers to make payments using the platform before they arrive and when using their mobile phones while they are in New Zealand.