During China’s eight-day Golden Week holiday, which saw the National Day vacation and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated together in the first part of October 2020, over 637 million domestic tourist trips were made across the country. According to figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, this figure represents a market recovery equal to 79 per cent, compared to the numbers seen during the same time last year. The revenue from this domestic tourism was 466.56 billion yuan, equivalent to 69.9 per cent up from last year.
The figures present not only a very strong sign for travel operators in China, but also demonstrate hope and positivity for global travel brands, who can learn from the trends that were seen in China during the long vacation period. While travel operators in China are now thinking about how to differentiate themselves ahead of the next long holiday (Chinese New Year in February 2021), global travel brands can use these insights to help prepare and stage their recovery, no matter what market they’re in.
Paying for Quality
As China’s economy is shifting from an investment-driven model to one fuelled by consumption, pursuing a higher quality of life has become a mainstream desire for citizens. In the “new normal” created by the pandemic, greater demands have been placed on high-quality hygiene and health. To be favourable amongst consumers, brands must introduce stringent health safety measures and standards, so that they feel safe. In China, we saw thousands of hotels introduce contactless services, with robots providing information to guests and even delivering room service.
Companies and organisations have embraced new pricing models to meet travellers’ fears of uncertainty. This proved to be massively important in terms of boosting consumers’ desire to travel again and effectively managed the new ways tourism products are purchased and enjoyed. China’s OTA giant Ctrip.com introduced a product allowing “advanced bookings for future trips”, offering deals covering more than 10,000 hotels, 100 air routes, and 300 destinations and attractions. Airlines such as China Eastern introduced ‘Weekend Flyers’ and other special packages for travellers to use during specific times. Numerous cruising companies have followed suit and offered off-the-shelf pre-sale coupons, which travellers can recoup for extra value at a later date. Global brands should also consider flexible pricing options and attractive promotions, to not only lure customers back, but also help them feel confident about spending on travel again.
The Great Outdoors
Social distancing has forced travellers to rethink connectivity, and consequently they are now embracing a more positive, epicurean way of travelling in tune with nature. During Golden Week, more travellers chose short stays at rural locations in areas surrounding the cities, or enjoyed walking in national parks. Niche guest houses in the mountains and beach resorts along the coast were consistently ranked as top destinations. Create experiences that are in line with new trends, rethink social distancing and what brands can offer to travellers to get connected with nature and disconnected from the crowds (both URL and IRL).
China based tourism companies have used innovative digital applications to maintain their business operations and stay connected with consumers during the pandemic. Virtual Reality, 3D Showcases, and Livestreaming have played a role in reshaping the landscape and presented new opportunities for creative travel marketing in China. Hotels and OTA’s have massively leveraged livestream selling to promote their package deals, with attractions introduced via a pre-booking system during Golden Week, as a way to promote deals and prevent destinations from becoming too crowded.
Online Travel and Travelling Online
The National Day Golden Week vacation unleashed eight months of pent up passion that Chinese people have for travelling. Chinese travellers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, aggressively posted photos of their trips across social media. Destinations and attractions were amplified by a variety of digital applications designed for travellers to help express their travel inspirations and keep them safe at the same time. International destinations and brands also actively engaged with travellers through their digital communications to stay in touch and seed inspiration among potential foreign visitors as they eagerly await borders to reopen. Don’t just embrace digital applications throughout a traveller’s decision making journey, stay in touch with them and keep stirring their desire and interests, just like other major industries do.
With a number of world-renowned travel brands as clients, such as Plaza Premium Group, Tourism Australia and Singapore Tourism Board, Sinclair is passionate and experienced in building campaigns that drive action in the crowded travel and tourism sector. If you’re a travel brand navigating the new normal, we’re here to help you. Drop us a message to set up a meeting.