If your travel brand is not offering impressive and integrated WeChat solutions – why not?! Payment gateways, location-based features, ‘internet of things’ interactivity, marketing campaigns … WeChat does it all. Here are some notable WeChat campaigns and features, cleverly used by luxury travel brands.
Firstly, these meaty stats show that you simply must be looking to the China travel market – and in particular, luxury Chinese Millennials:
- Luxury retail tourism is projected to grow due to 74 million travel-hungry Chinese millennials graduating from university in the next decade. (Aviator/Kinetic)
- Chinese Millennials (specifically the age group 15-29) comprise half of China’s outbound travellers from China. About two-thirds of this group are wealthy. (GfK Global)
- Chinese will take almost 70 percent more trips overseas in 2020 compared to 2015, fueling growth in tourism and aiding transportation and infrastructure. In 2016, Chinese made over 150 million trips abroad, government data show, with adults ages 18-34 accounting for about 65% of outbound travelers that year. (Phocuswright)
- Travel accounted for 9 percent of China’s economy in 2016, with projected industry growth to average 8 percent annually from 2017 to 2027, outpacing other major economies like India and the U.S. (World Travel and Tourism Council)
- Chinese buyers made up 32% of the luxury goods market in 2017 – more than any other nationality. (Bain & Co)
- Millennials now account for 68% of diamond jewelry sales in China. (De Beers)
- Purchases made by millennials accounted for 66.13% of all gold sales in China in 2016. (Gomez Gold)
- Chinese visitors now make up 33% of tourists in the UK, spending £29m in shopping centres and on high streets across the UK during this month’s Golden Week holiday. £11m was spent in London. (Visit Britain)
- Between 4% and 5% of Chinese citizens currently hold a passport, but within the next decade, this figure is expected to rise to around 12%. This would correspond to more than 100 million new outbound tourists. (China National Tourism Administration)
Smart Ways to Use WeChat for Marketing:
Small Luxury Hotels – content to commerce
Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the World is a collective of over 500 (independent) luxury hotels, across almost 100 countries. The WeChat account of SLH focuses on content, linking to navigation and browsing. Regular posts are about destination details, visa rules, and highlights of the accommodation, such as Spa and f&b, as well as special promotions at various hotels. From these posts, Followers can tap through to the booking page. This year, SLH Followers have increased by 30%.
Hawaii Tourism China – integrated marketing
To catch the eyes of Chinese wealthy travellers, Hawaii Tourism opened competitions to win prizes at Four Seasons Resorts and for helicopter rides and the like. In collaboration with the K11 Art Mall in Shanghai – which houses brands including Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana et al – VR experiences showed shoppers virtual Hawaiin experiences. Over 1.6 million luxury shoppers were claimed to see this campaign.
The tourism board also highlighted Hawaii’s romantic appeal, working with Taiwanese KOL Ady An Yixuan, and inviting over 200 other celebrities to Ady’s wedding at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. This campagin generated over 300 million views on Weibo, with the wedding’s relevant hashtag trending over 60 million times.
Meliá Hotels International – Follower engagement
Meliá Hotels have a strong WeChat and Weibo presence, with nearly 30 million views per year. They started a #summersuitcase campagin which asked Followers to share their pics of how they pack for their holidays, as well as other seasonal campaigns, such as #winterhomes and #springlove. The emphasis from Meliá was on the visual – their own images were carefully tailored, encouraging users to be artistic in their photos as well.
British Airways – Cultural awareness and integrated digital marketing
British Airways tugged on traditional heart-strings, as they drew on the cultural factor of familial piety with the Flying the Nest Campaign, which centered on a Chinese student receiving a surprise visit from her parents when studying in the UK. It called on the emotions of a golden only-child studying overseas and the need to impress and take care of her parents when they go for a visit. It coupled with a travel guide – available within WeChat and via a QR code which could guide them on the cultural points of daily UK life.
Lufthansa almost identically copied this concept a few months later – the ad started with a Chinese man being taken to the airport by his taxi-driving Father, and then he decided to pay for his parents’ flight to Germany the next time.
Hugo Boss – retail tourism
Hugo Boss made several consecutive posts specifically for the 2017 Golden Week (October National Holiday), introducing popular destinations with rich content guides, relevant to Hugo Boss’ retail stores at the destinations.
Sales info, promotions and more were included, as well as highlighting the Chinese buzzword for the translation of ‘duty-free’, to create excitement that these special prices could be enjoyed at usually full-price stores.
As well as these campaigns, we’ve looked at some notable ways that WeChat is being employed worldwide:
- Warner Brothers Studio Tour Hollywood now has a WeChat account which gives Chinese visitors guidance as well as live-streams of tours, giving direct access to future visitors.
- The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has an official WeChat account, as well as taking WeChat payments at the museum itself. Once having paid with WeChat, visitors enjoy exclusive benefits such as Chinese audio guide and map.
- IHG, the world’s biggest hospitality group launched their loyalty program, IHG Priority Club, on WeChat. Members can instantly check their points, booking options and manage existing reservations in the account, as well as enjoy exclusive offers.
- Air France’s WeChat account has a customer service chat function on WeChat, with the service replying in Chinese or English, on both weekdays and weekends. This includes services such as choosing seats, baggage needs and cancellations.
- Shangri-La Hotels WeChat has a function for price comparisons on all of their hotels, and some hotels (such as Pudong Shangri-La) have a flash sales page for special deals on rooms, f&b, CHI the Spa, and so on.
- At Caesar’s Entertainment’s LINQ Hotel & Casino, guests can use WeChat to control their room functions such as lighting, air-con, curtains, door locks as well as ordering room service.
Updated, December 2017:
WeChat CityExperience has launched, with the tourism boards of Dubai, London and Sydney offering guides on the Mini Program to give Chinese tourists help and guidance in navigating major cities and learning about their cultures and histories from official sources.
The conclusion is simple — either be smart, visible and integrated on WeChat, or be invisible to China’s 100s of millions of tourists.