Top 10 Ways to Attract Chinese Tourists Using Social Media
One of the most important trends emerging in Social Media is hotels creating social media marketing plans aimed to attract Chinese tourists. We would like to take a few minutes to explain the top 10 best ways for hotels to attract Chinese tourists using Social Media.
1. Create a marketing plan
The first step is to create a marketing plan. If you do not create a plan you will end up failing and end up posting useless, random information. What do you want out of your social media marketing campaign? Brand Awareness, Engagement, Revenue, Costumer Service, or Repeat Business? Remember you can have more than one goal, but if you don’t state your goals and work to achieve them than there is no point in starting social media marketing.
2. Create standard operating procedures
Related to point #1, you must have a plan and standard operating procedures to handle crises, emergencies and customer service failures before they happen. This is important when trying to market any business, but becomes especially important when your target audience is tourists from another country who may or may not speak your language.
First impressions are of the utmost importance when engaging with tourists and thus having a well formulated, detailed plan in place before you encounter problems is crucial. Chinese tourists tend to stay connected to social media while traveling and you can bet that feedback about your hotel will be sent to contacts the world over. Whether that feedback is positive or negative is largely up to you and your staff collectively.
3. Focus on the destination
Almost nobody (including Chinese tourists) travels specifically to a hotel. Nobody plans their trip around the hotel; they plan their trip around a destination. Tourist plan their trip around Paris not the Hilton in Paris. So, the third tip for hotels using social media is to highlight the destination, while making the “hotel experience” an extension of that destination’s allure. Create interest in the area around the hotel.
If the Hilton in Paris wants more tourists to stay at the Hilton, they should explain how easy and convenient it is to reach key attractions in Paris, how hotel staff can assist you with transportation and how food/shopping opportunities in the hotel are just a small part of the overall experience of Paris-at-large.
4. Focus on what is important to tourists
Tourists are more concerned about taxis, buses and flights than about discounts in the gift shop. A tourist will not purchase gifts if they are too worried they will not make their flight or reach their destination on time. Remember social media marketing is about being social and not broadcasting useless information. Provide useful information and tourist will take notice. There’s plenty of scope to promote shopping, eating and drinking in your hotel, but those issues should be addressed after the basics. Note how in tip #3 the issue of food/shopping opportunities was addressed after transport and destination information.
5. Create interesting content
Now that the basics are out of the way, your social media marketing campaign should be full of interesting content. The next step is to listen and create. Once you have your SinaWeibo and WeChat accounts set up, listen. Listen to what people are saying, whether that feedback is positive or negative. Posting 10 times a day with irrelevant information will do more harm than good. Listen to what Chinese travelers are asking and commenting on, once you have a good idea about Chinese travelers interest, then you can start to create compiling content based on your audiences interests.
6. The next step is to be social
The next step is to be social. This might seem obvious but many hotel accounts have become broadcasting stations. These one way accounts are defeating the entire purpose of being on social media. Social media is about starting and joining conversations to provide value. Prompt guests to answer questions, check-in to locations, upload photos or leave comments about services. You’ll be surprised how badly consumers and travelers want to be heard and want to share content.
7. Create a brand personality
Along with being social, it is okay to create a brand personality. If you want to be witty or interesting, that’s fine so long as you do it well. People want to know they are talking to a person and not a robot. Sound and act human and if you make a mistake apologize. If someone is having a problem in your hotel that can be fixed by a staff member intervening, have them intervene. Why? Because that is what humans do. Be human.
8. Empower social media managers
Make sure the person in charge of your social media marketing is empowered to make customer service decisions and that he/she does not need to ask management how to fix problems. People are looking for help; make sure the people they are reaching out to have the power to help.
9. Hire a social media marketer or agency
Hire a social media marketer. Do not fold it into the tasks of current staff because they will not spend the time needed to provide quality service. If you do not have the staff or cannot hire the staff needed (Chinese language skills), than it is okay to outsource this function but make sure the company you hire has experience and make sure they know the rules. Empower the company to make decisions on your behalf or keep the function in-house. If the decision making process takes too long, travelers will turn to other, more costly, methods to receive customer service.
10. Make it official
Make sure your account is official. Research shows that Chinese social media users are more likely to trust brands that have verified their Sina Weibo accounts. By verifying the account, customers will know that all content is official and therefore they are more likely to trust the content.
These are our top 10 tips and we hope you’ll have success in using them to jump-start your hotel’s social media efforts to help attract Chinese tourists. What are some other strategies you have used in your hotel? Have those strategies been successful?