The very 1st Regional Conference on China's Outbound Travel Market was held in March 2019 at Hotel Academia in Zagreb. It was jointly organised by IPPWORLD and PROCONCEPT especially for the hotel, hospitality and the SMEs in tourism-related industries.
The event was attended by distinguished guests from the Croatia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, business owners and management staff from major hotels such as, Valamar d.d., Bluesun d.d., Plava laguna d.d. etc., leading tourism agencies and businesses in the travel and tourism sectors.
Speakers from the organiser were, Ms Joanne Chan from IPPWORLD, Ms Andreja Gazdek from PROCONCEPT and Mr Goran Rihelj from HRTURIZAM.
The invited speakers were Mr Božidar Antolec, President of the Lekenik Tourist Board who gave an interesting presentation on how to combine private entrepreneurs and the tourist community. Mr Siniša Malus, spokesperson from the Chinese Southeast European Business Association provided an overview on Croatian-Chinese relations and planned activities for 2019. Mr. Ivan Pukšar, Professor from Libertas University who talked about the state of Chinese Tourism in Croatia and Ms Jessie Jiang a Hungary Area Representative from Union Pay.
In her opening address, main speaker Joanne Chan, who came over from Singapore, assured the audience that Croatia and the other Republics of former Yugoslavia had all the trappings for attracting tourists from China and other Asian countries – from natural and scenic landscapes, medieval history and deep heritage, to richness in folklore, unique festivities and gastronomic events.
But what are the steps local businesses should take? How can they market their brand and their services directly in China? How can they reach out to the millions of Chinese outbound travellers, confidently and cost-effectively?
The audience not only received answers to those questions but also about China, its people and culture, the evolution of Chinese travellers, their distinguishable traits, travel expectations, etc. Joanne also shared personal insights on having establish IPPWORLD's WFOE office in Shanghai in 2004, as well as her working and living experiences. She is currently overseeing its business and operations from Singapore.
Joanne mentioned Croatia's publicity advantages with Chinese consumers such as; the highly-rated Reality TV Shows hosted by Chinese celebrities and viewed by millions of households in China; the ever-popular ‘Game of Thrones' which captivated the Chinese market as a serial movie as well as an online gaming version which garnered cult-like followers, club memberships, etc. It's a small wonder Croatia received the distinguished award as the ‘Best New Destination' polled by Chinese travellers in 2018.
Joanne enlightened the audience on several misconceptions Europeans or other world destinations may still have about China's outbound travellers. She then provided insights on the four prominent characteristics of Chinese travellers, what attracts them and what they are looking for, their preferred travel calendar periods, etc.
She also emphasised that it would be foolhardy to stereotype Chinese tourists to that of Westerners. The fact that today's Chinese travellers expect a broader experience, to learn the history of a country, understand its people and culture, and especially to enjoy in its natural and scenic surroundings.
The audience was taken through detailed presentations on trends that shape the Chinese travel market, the disappearance of flag-waving group tours, the new waves of FITs (Free Independent Travellers), etc. The FITs being well-informed through social media and are synonymously-known as China's Mobile First Nation.
Joanne highlighted that 70% of the current Chinese tourism market are FITs. They are better educated and their household earnings are over USD3,500 per month. It is estimated that 400 million have already crossed this threshold.
During each overseas holiday FITs would spend anything between USD 3,000 and 4,000. Moreover, as less than 10% of China's population hold a passport, their numbers travelling abroad is expected to increase exponentially.
One of the Presentation Slide from Joanne's talk during the Zagreb Conference
An important point shared by Joanne is China's censorship on Internet whereby almost every Western-based apps and websites are blocked. In place are millions of Chinese apps used by the local community to perform practically every chore – from reading travel news, making online purchases, doctor's appointments, taxi rides, etc.
Thus, for online marketers promoting to communities in China, it's imperative that they understand about this censorship. Otherwise, whatever campaigns running on Western-based apps will hardly achieve its desired result and the investment would be futile.
Moving on to the do's and don'ts, Joanne mentioned key takeaways such as:
- Be linguistically visible. To consider the age-old adage “Can't Read, Won't Buy”.
- Websites and marketing information to be ‘transcreated' (defined as translation infused with creative editing) instead of literal translation. She stressed that online machine translations are obviously a no-no,
- Include Chinese Payment Gateways. Because 90% of Chinese travellers prefer making payments online or with mobile wallets, and
- Implement ‘Online Attraction Marketing' in order to build and grow brand presence across China's social media apps and platforms.
Joanne summed up by taking the audience through various activities that can help sustain on marketing initiatives and building loyalty groups of Chinese visitors.
Joanne Chan of IPPWORLD with Andreja Gazdek of PROCONCEPT at the Conference
For more information on marketing to China's Outbound Travellers, please contact Joanne directly. To cater to audiences in Croatia, our website now includes viewing option in Croatian. Please click here to view our Croatian website.
- Download a free copy of White Paper “Marketing To China's Outbound Travellers”
(A most comprehensive insider's perspective on modern-day Chinese outbound travellers since China joined the WTO in 2001).
- Read or download the report – “Unprecedented New Waves in Croatia-China Relations”
PROCONCEPT is a design and consulting establishment that offers solutions for the tourism and hospitality industry. PROCONCEPT specialises in development projects, from a private exclusive hideaway, to a 5-star hotel with a unique theme or outstanding architecture. PROCONCEPT's teams of designers, engineers and management trainers are helping clients transform their operations into viable and rewarding investments.
IPPWORLD is an Asian language service provider with offices in Singapore, China, Mauritius and Croatia. IPPWORLD specialises in transcreation of marketing information in multilingual languages. The group offers end-to-end content localisation for websites, online booking platforms, printing artworks, as well as management of marketing campaigns through a series of PUSH-PULL advertising strategies across China's Internet platforms and social media networks.