Digital Marketing Opportunities for Chinese Tourism Sector in Singapore for 2019

The Chinese tourism market is booming, and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, the number of Chinese outbound travellers reached 162 million—close to 20% growth from 2018. With a market of this size, brands must shift their focus from purely domestic to a traveller-focused strategy.

How have Chinese tourists impacted Singapore as a popular travel destination?

The Singapore Tourism Board recently released its annual tourism results for 2018. As compared to 2017, 2018 was a great year for Singapore’s tourism sector. With 6.2% more visitors than in 2017, Singapore saw 18.5 million tourists from all around the world in 2018. Tourism receipts in 2018 also saw an increase of 1%, bringing the total tourism revenue to SGD $27.1 billion.

2018 Tourism Sector Performance by Singapore Tourism Board (Source: STB)

Chinese tourists were a huge contributing factor to the success of 2018. Considering that China has been a world leader in recent years in both tourist arrivals and tourism receipts, expectations were high—and they were met.

Out of the top 15 countries visiting Singapore, Chinese travellers hit a new high with 3.4 million visitors in 2018, followed by Indonesian travellers with 3 million. The key factors for the upsurge of Chinese visitors are primarily due to a robust outbound travel demand, STB’s marketing efforts focused on Chinese digital platforms and an increment in direct flight connectivity from China.

Digital Marketing Opportunities in 2019

When it comes to digital marketing in the Chinese tourism market, advertisers must stay up-to-date with the latest trends. Here are some digital and travel trends to get you started on your 2019 digital marketing strategies.

Understand key travel times

It is crucial to understand key travel times so that, with the proper strategy, brands can then capitalize on the demand of Chinese travellers. There are 3 key periods within the year that we see an influx of Chinese travellers to Singapore:

  • January-February: Spring Festival Week
  • July-August: Summer Holidays
  • Early October: Golden Week 

Plan ahead!

Last week, we discussed strategies for pre-travel targeting. Chinese travellers plan their trips 2-3 months in advance. Therefore, it is important that brand marketers target them during that “intent to travel” stage to tap into their motivation to travel.

  • For destination, airline and hotel industries: Market 4-6 months ahead of peak season
  • For retail, F&B, tourism (activities) industries: Market 1-2 months before peak season

Create multiple digital touchpoints

An average Chinese person spends 4.2 hours using apps each day.

Because Chinese people are always on their mobile, multiple touchpoints are a must if your job as a marketer is to ensure brand presence every time a Chinese consumer opens an app. And that easily translates from “intent” to “conversion” if conversion is your end goal.

Time spent on apps from top to bottom: social, video, news, shopping, gaming, music, travel, reading, financial, lifestyle (Image credit: Jiguan Data)

Douyin is the way to go

Short form videos gained huge traction in 2018, all thanks to Douyin. Boasting a 400 million monthly active usership (MAU) in China alone, Douyin is a key trend driver with brands to stay up-to-date with China’s digital scape.

Furthermore, Douyin now offers advertising opportunities to help brands reach more Chinese consumers. For example, Douyin offers call to actions on brands’ Douyin account that provides consumers access to a brand’s own e-commerce website.

Creating viral-bility with hashtag challenges is another effective marketing strategy, as demonstrated by Michael Kors using the challenge as a way to engage with users for the most popular video. The campaign clips made over 200 million impressions, with over 30,000 users posting their catwalk videos with Michael Kors products.

Douyin x Michael Kors hashtag challenge (source: Cosfilm)

Douyin is here to stay in 2019, and marketers should capitalise on this opportunity.

Collaborate with KOLs

According to Jing Daily, brands and retailers can no longer sit back and wait for Chinese tourists to come to their destination and buy their globally hot-selling products. They must actively court this unique consumer market and create connection points for new collections and products.

Thinking beyond WeChat, brands are starting to get their messages across to their target audiences through new players, like Xiaohongshu (小红书) and Douyin.

While Xiaohongshu’s content and contributions tend to be more “Instagram-worthy”, reviews from select KOLs can then of course be more effective to promote a brand’s prestige and evoke a stronger campaign message.

Tips on influencing from 3 Xiaohongshu KOLs (Source: Parklu)

Similarly, Douyin also features a location tag that travelling influencers, brands, and vloggers can use to group content and make it easy for hotels, retailers, and other travel destinations to reach potential customers on the go.

We can provide more insights on the Chinese outbound tourism market. Get in touch.

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