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WeChat Marketing Boosts Growth of Dedicated Digital Travel Agents

A new generation of online travel firms is actively wooing young would-be holidaymakers via WeChat Marketing.

Photo: From online to off-the-beaten-track: Discovering destinations digitally. (Xinhua News Agency)
From online to off-the-beaten-track: Discovering destinations digitally.
Photo: From online to off-the-beaten-track: Discovering destinations digitally. (Xinhua News Agency)
From online to off-the-beaten-track: Discovering destinations digitally.

WeChat has recently become the primary marketing platform for a new generation of travel agencies, most notably Sanfo-outdoor, Shuilu.net and Tianxing Outdoors. The growth in popularity of these digital destination providers is a clear reflection of the marked change in consumer behaviour by young, highly internet-literate holidaymakers.

Typically, such travel agencies first post detailed travel itineraries, sightseeing information and required equipment suggestions on their WeChat public accounts. After reading the post, interested WeChat followers can immediately enrol on the proposed trip via their mobile devices. Once the number of bookings has been confirmed, the travel agency can then proceed with all the necessary arrangements, including transportation and accommodation.

A number of factors make WeChat Marketing particularly suited for use in the travel agency sector:

1.  Compared with outdoor websites and online forums (such as lvye.cn), WeChat Marketing has a higher user penetration, while also offering greater convenience in terms of information dissemination. Users simply have to subscribe to the platform in order to receive regular updates and offers.

2.  WeChat is ideally suited to establishing a dedicated following on key areas of interest, such as holidaying and travel related to specific activities and locations.

3.  Its facility for communicating via both text and photography allows for the appeal of travel destinations to be easily and effectively highlighted.

4.  Compared to many others form of marketing, it is relatively low-cost.

The use of WeChat Marketing to service the Beijing travel sector has proved particularly effective. This has been helped by the sheer size of the target market, its relatively high level of disposable income and the impressive travel destinations that are within relatively easy reach.

As a result, weekend tours and three-day breaks have becoming increasingly popular options for time-pressed Beijingers. This preference, as well as the convenience and flexibility offered by WeChat Marketing, has led to the emergence of three particularly popular itineraries for sightseers from the capital:

One-day Tours

For those with tight schedules, exploring areas particularly close to Beijiing has proved particularly appealing. The most in-demand destinations include the mountain ranges of Yanqing, Mentougou and Changping, while the scenic opportunities offered by the Dongling Mountain, Haituo Mountain and the Wild Great Wall have also proved popular. Among the more unusual excursions are trips to the newly developed Gubei Water Town, the Pinggu Tianyun Mountain Glass Plank and the Yanqing Seasonal Flower Sea Valley. Of late, the Baoding Lotus Pond and the Tianjin Beitang Ancient Town have also emerged as popular options.

Three-day Short Tours

For those with a little more time, itineraries that take in the Inner Mongolia Grassland to the northwest of Beijing and the Shanxi Dayuan Yungang Grottoes to the west are frequently booked-up well in advance. Further to the west, some venture as far as Xian or northeast to the Changbai Mountain, Beidaihe and the Chengde Imperial Summer Resort. Also popular are excursions to Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and the Zhejiang provinces to the southeast of Beijing.

With the high-speed rail link now in operation, the travel time between Beijing and number of highly-scenic destinations has been dramatically shortened, with many more now within two to five hours reach. This has greatly enhanced the travel options for many Beijing residents.

Longer Tours

Naturally, for those with few limits on their available time, WeChat Marketing can also cater to travellers planning more extensive trips, including visits to Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang in western China or even to overseas destinations in Southeast Asia or Turkey.

Leila Liu, Beijing Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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