An effective marketing strategy for outbound tourism in China not only directly targets Chinese tourists, but also cooperates with China’s tourism industry. Although large group travel is declining, 60% of Chinese outbound tourists are now FITs (fully independent travelers), but that does not mean travel agencies are no longer needed.
Many FITs still book their trips through travel agencies or at least use them for information. This is especially important for the wealthiest individuals who are increasingly interested in personalized travel services. According to the 2017 Hurun report on luxury travel in China, 40% of respondents intend to use customized services in the future, as opposed to 10% of the group.
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Chinese consumers and trade are different, and their marketing is a major new challenge to this market. For those trying to navigate the B2B travel market in China, we’ve provided a guide for industry events, digital tools, and online Chinese and offline Chinese partners.
China Travel Trade Fair
To really get to China’s tourism industry, you need to attend the show, and you need to go to China – there are some shows, including China’s tourism industry, but only a handful of these shows China agents.
These are the main fairs for China’s outbound travel:
- COTTM – Beijing, April 16-18, 2018
COTTM has been held since 2004. It is a well-organized and trade outbound Chinese tourism exhibition, mainly serving agents in Beijing and North China. Over the years, COTTM has become a platform for emerging destinations.
- ITB China – Shanghai, May 16-18, 2018
ITB China is a new exhibition that has just started in 2017 and is hosted by ITB Berlin and key Asian organizers. This is completely B2B, including business and leisure travel. The show started well and the major tourist destinations and brands, as well as the trade in Shanghai, had a good performance. If you only have a budget to participate in an Expo, this is a good choice.
- ILTM China – Shanghai, October 31 to November 2, 2018
ILTM Asia Becomes the # 1 luxury luxury fair in China for high-end travel buyers. Starting in 2018, ILTM will have a China-specific exhibition and ILTM Asia will be brought to Singapore. For many travel brands, this means determining where your budget is going.
- China International Tourist Market (CITM) – October 20-22, 2017, Kunming
China International Travel Fair is the most mature tourism exhibition in China and has been sponsored by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) since 1998. Held in November each year in Shanghai and Kunming, it is considered to be China’s largest and most important fair. Although focused on domestic and foreign tourism, but outbound tourism accounts for about 25% of the total area, the show is not organized.
- TravelDaily 2017 – Shanghai, September 13-14, 2017
This is not a travel fair, but the latest news on major tourist industry leaders in China’s outbound travel market. If you are traveling to China during this time, this show may be a good opportunity to learn how the market has evolved and who is a startup.
Small cities in other cities are cheaper and have some outbound travel. You do not necessarily need to go because you can find the agent you are talking about and then do it online. However, attending the show is valuable to increase brand awareness and engage with the media and potential consumers.
To maximize your visibility, market your product effectively and reduce costs, you should focus on one or two shows that meet your target market and plan your next visit to China, including follow-on visits to potential customers. You also need to register early – get a discount about three months in advance.
Chinese interpreters are crucial in dealing with transactions, as are Chinese marketing materials. Use localization companies to translate your brochures, websites, etc. into Chinese and hire translators with experience in the travel industry.
There are many exhibitions and consulting services in China that can help arrange exhibitions. It is important to work with people who have specific experience at a trade fair and who have no barriers to communication. They will save you time and money, and help you understand the needs of the local market.
These shows can be very busy, so you have to make a reservation in advance. Invite potential customers for lunch or dinner, emphasizing social rather than business talk. Remember, the Chinese are cautious about new business deals and usually do not end their business at the show. In the days after the fair conclusion, you also need to follow up.
“Determine who to follow and go see them at Office, “said Roy Graff, managing director of Dragon Trail’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.” You do not know them at the show. Look at the number of employees in the office, which will give you a better sense of the company. Do the research and due diligence. If an agency wants to work with you, it’s not just the company they’re in.
Agents often carry their clients as they move. Understand their reputation. This is worrisome if they move frequently.
Travel agencies/tour operators Some 1,600 agencies in China are licensed to operate outbound travels, and the size of these travel agencies varies widely, with some having branches throughout the country while others only doing business in certain regions.
The division of labor between travel agencies and travel agencies/tour operators is less pronounced than in the United States, with many operating as both retailers and wholesalers, with several well-known names in the travel industry, all of which are set up by government departments when the government controls all travel Travel agencies.
CTS, CYTS, and CYTS have offices in all parts of the country, but their offices are managed separately. Each city is different and has many franchises. Other well-known domestic brands include China Comfort, CITIC, Merchants, etc.
There are also CTI (owned by Hong Kong CTS), TUI, American Express and JTB and other foreign travel agencies and a wide range of private companies, including Caissa, which focuses on departures, UTour and online travel agencies (OTAs) Graf suggests: “Do not worry if the company has a weird name you’ve never heard of.