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Tencent exec tells how to tap into Chinese travel goldmine

December 3, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Tapping into a billion Chinese consumers, many with travel on their minds, has become easier with the emergence of a multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app that lets Australian companies better engage with Chinese markets.

The app is WeChat, developed by the huge Chinese conglomerate Tencent, an enterprise which distinguished itself by becoming the first Asian company to cross the USD 500 billion valuation mark and enter the top five list of the world’s biggest firms.

On a recent visit to Melbourne, Tencent International Business Group’s Head of Business Development, Ian Chan, outlined the scope and scale of the company’s offerings and explained how they could suit the travel and tourism industry.

Chinese internet users spent about 47% of their mobile internet usage engaging with Tencent products, Chan said – a colossal market-share unmatched by rivals.

Products cover gaming, music, social interaction, payment and more.

Tencent’s headquarters in Shenzhen

  • The WeChat app lets advertisers reach Chinese while they are in mainland China. The Chinese population is 1.4 billion and WeChat has 1.15 billion monthly active users.
  • Another alternative is to reach Chinese while they are travelling overseas. 140 million Chinese are now travelling internationally.
  • Reaching overseas local WeChat users is a third option. WeChat is a leading social chat application among Chinese in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The scale of the Chinese market is breathtaking. China accounts for 16% of all visitor arrivals to Australia, having recently overtaken New Zealand as Australia’s largest source of visitors. In the year ending 30 June 2019, Australia received 1.432 million visitors from China (up 1%) – and they spent AUD 12 billion (up 6%). Flights from China to Australia are currently running at 138 per week, and seat capacity on the route (inbound to Australia) is up 3%.

Tourism Australia notes that distinguishing features of the China market include:

  • Online bookings are increasing at a greater rate than traditional channels.
  • Social media, media advocacy and word-of-mouth are becoming more powerful sources of information to assist Chinese travellers with planning and purchasing travel.
  • The use of online sources by the Chinese market is well above the average across all markets.

All of that works well for Tencent and WeChat.

Ian Chan, Head of Business Development for Tencent International Business Group

Chan said WeChat covered gaming, music, social media and payment, and the scope was expanding to let people book a doctor, pay their tax or carry out many other transactions. He compared WeChat to the “Swiss Army knife” of applications, after the all-in-one tool renowned for its many useful purposes.

The “Tencent ecosystem” includes a cross-platform, cross-border advertising hub that Tencent says can help Australian businesses engage more effectively through a range of new proprietary targeting technology.

Not surprisingly, the potential has been seen by tourism organisations including Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand. In its collaboration with Tourism New Zealand, Tencent is helping drive the growth of Chinese Free Independent Travellers (FIT) with fresh, travel experiences, building New Zealand as a desirable, high-value international destination brand for Chinese travellers.

The most commonly used WeChat ad formats are the one-click-to-follow ad, the display banner/video ad, “KOL” (key opinion leaders) advertorial ads and “Moments” video image ads. Short-term ad campaigns can be accomplished through WeChat Mini Programs, that fire up consumers immediately.

“If you treat WeChat as the internet, then a Mini Program is the webpage,” Chan said. Content had to suit a Chinese audience, he pointed out. Taking an advertisement originally written in English and simply translating it into Mandarin with Google Translate was not a formula that worked.

Tencent International Business Group’s Head of Business Development, Ian Chan, on a recent visit to Melbourne

In its work with Tencent, Tourism Australia has used two animals, the Quokka and Koala, as symbols to illustrate two different styles of travelling Australia. Koala is more laid-back, quokka more active. Tencent says this generated an engagement rate 200% above average.

Tourism New Zealand used a “Good Morning World” brand campaign to engage with potential visitors, gaining 5.5 million video views. Auckland Airport promoted coupons to on-the-ground guests during Golden Week (China’s National Day holiday) to drive traffic to merchants at the airport. Brands Tencent has helped in Australia include notable collaborations with Myer and L’Oréal.

China’s “National Day Golden Week” begins around 1 October. Chan pointed out that Golden Week can work to spread sales from the traditional Australian and New Zealand November/December sales peak.

Tencent’s diversified services include QQ, Weixin/ WeChat for communications; Qzone for social networking; QQ Game Platform for online games; and Tencent News for information and Tencent Video for video content.

Tencent was founded in Shenzhen in 1998 and went public on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. The Company is one of the constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index. Tencent seeks to evolve with the Internet by investing in innovation, providing a mutually beneficial environment for partners, and staying close to users.

Written by Peter Needham

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