How to Market to Chinese Tourists in France

David Henriques

As China’s economy grows, the number of Chinese consumers traveling and shopping overseas is rising along with it. In less than two decades China has become the largest driving force in the outbound travel market with over 140 million Chinese tourists making trips in 2018 alone. The country’s thirst for digital knowledge has ignited a massive push in traveler decision making and France has become a new crowd-pleaser for Chinese consumers. Last year, France saw a 50% year-on-year increase in Chinese tourism with about 60% of tourists being between 18 and 35 years old.

These travelers are becoming well versed and starting to seek personalized experiences, and most of them have a high disposable income to partake in everything that France has to offer. Anyone who is tasked with marketing a tourist destination knows that it can be difficult to create an effective marketing strategy that drives tourism to your city. It’s even more difficult to know that you’re targeting a group of consumers with complex shopping habits. Having a clear digital outreach and an understanding of these habits are key to attracting Chinese tourists to your products and services.

 

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Understanding the Chinese Tourist

It’s important to put the right amount of energy into understanding how Chinese people like to travel. Neglecting to understand the Chinese tourist can lead to a train wreck for your brand reputation considering that Chinese people value word of mouth way more than Western countries. Chinese tourists can be broken down into concrete categories such as income, age group and region.

 

Rise of the Independent Traveler

Organized travel tours use to be the norm for Chinese tourists traveling abroad, but now they are dropping tour groups at a quick pace. Travelers from tier 1 cities and women are leading the independent traveler trend with 57% of solo travelers being female in 2018. Tier 2 cities tend to follow the trends of tier 1 cites and are expected to experience a large growth in the following years to come. However, tourists from third and fourth-tier regions still favor group travel.

 

The Millennial Experience

Millennial travelers are taking a new approach when it comes to traveling in France. Instead of going head first into the luxury department stores, these travelers are getting more local by visiting cafes, bakeries and boutiques. They want to experience France like the locals and are very in tune with fashion and cultural trends. Millennials account for around 54% of Chinese visitors to Paris and this number is only expected to increase.

 

The Chinese Luxury Shopper

Even though luxury shopping accounts for the largest expenditure among affluent Chinese travelers, the “shop to you drop” shopping frenzy has slowed down over the last few years.  Chinese travelers have developed the stereotype of loving to shop, which has a great deal of truth to it. However, these shoppers feel the unwanted pressure from foreign brands to spend more than others while abroad, so it’s important not to be too pushy when they interact with your business. Nowadays, learning is often the main purpose of many of their trips abroad.

 

The Digital-savvy Tourist

In general, Chinese travelers and shoppers are well connected with their surroundings through social media. They expect readily available Wi-Fi connections and don’t mind at all to choose a travel destination based on a review left by another Chinese tourist. A large majority of consumers take advantage of Mafengwo to plan their trips, which is one of China’s fastest growing social travel platforms. Digital plays a critical role for them in searching for deals and discounts.

 

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Marketing to Chinese Tourists in France

Offer Personalized Services

A personalized travel experience can go along way with a Chinese tourist. They will be more willing to share their activities, shopping and moments when their experience is personalized.  It’s worth considering how you can adapt your services to be more localized for Chinese consumers. Your localization strategy could consist of translating your menu or even adding cultural friendly dishes. Dianping is the most popular review app in China and its worth taking the time to make sure your business is listed on there.

 

Advertise France through Social Media

WeChat is one of the most useful platforms for marketing to tourists with the addition of WeChat mini programs. A mini program can be the perfect way to showcase your tourism service and help Chinese tourists navigate cities throughout France. With WeChat official accounts, your brand can update visitors on news, promotions or create membership cards. KOLs that love to travel can also be a very effective marketing strategy for your business. Advice or reviews from a trusted KOL can be very persuasive in shaping the travel decisions of Chinese consumers.  It’s worth promoting a discount or lucky draw if you decide to add a KOL campaign to your marketing strategy.

 

Consider Chinese Niche Travel Platforms

Chinese tourists are steadily preferring to research and plan their own trips over using group tours. They do research on niche platforms such as Ctrip and Mafengwo. Ctrip is a leading provider of Chinese travel services and connects travelers with things to do at their destination. Ctrip has recently enhanced its digital marketing services for Chinese consumers to create user profiles and allow international partners to provide customized travel experiences. Mafengwo is a community of predominantly young travelers that share their experiences and recommendations on the latest travel trends. This platform is also a great alternative to showcase your brand.

 

Provide Chinese Payment Gateways

China is moving towards a cashless society and it is well advised to incorporate Chinese payment gateways such as Alipay, WeChat Pay or Union Pay. 93% of Chinese tourist would be more willing to increase their spending if mobile payment was more widely accepted. This convenience allows travelers to shop without worrying about exchanging money or potential language barriers. As a result, mobile payment has become more diverse in foreign countries, from dining services to tourist attractions. Chinese payment gateways also make it more convenient for tax refunds, which has become increasingly popular for travelers.

 

Chinese tourists can be quite picky when it comes to traveling. When they are looking for a travel destination they want to know that it’s safe and has easy access to transportation. Little efforts of personalization and understanding your target audience will go a long way for your brand reputation. By following these travel trends and adapting your digital marketing strategy for the Chinese market, you can gain direct access to Chinese travelers and expand your brand reach. 

 

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David Henriques
David Henriques

Digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Sekkei Studio, a digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. More than 10 years of experience in helping the communication of foreign companies in China.

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