2 megatrends drive Chinese outbound tourism: The first is an Incredible growth in the number of tourists, from 107 million in 2014 to 128 million in 2015 - on to an expected total of 200 million in 2020.
The second is a rapid shift in the way they travel: Switching from old-fashioned group tourism to independent tourism (FIT). This mirrors the development seen in any country around the world - but the change is taking place surprising early and quickly.
Chinese tourists spend more per person than any other major group of tourists - and the majority of their spending is directed towards shopping.
As long as Chinese tourists came in groups getting their business was easy - in principle: Pay their tour guide a sufficient commission and he would take them to your shop - and leave your competitors dead in the track.
The switch to independent tourisms has completely changed the rules of the game.
With no tour guide to dictate where they go, they now find their own way. And so your challenge becomes: How do I get seen and chosen by this new generation of Chinese tourists.
For most shops the rise of the independent tourist is good news, as all shops now have a realistic chance of getting a share of the Chinese business.
This opportunity is further strengthened by the growing sophistication of the Chinese consumers. Traditionally focused only on buying the most famous brands (LV, Gucci, ecco etc.) they are slowly but surely shifting to buying products they like, even if the brand is less well-known.
The main challenge for Western shops is not just that Chinese travellers don’t know them in advance: Finding good information about shops (and brands!) on the super-popular Chinese online travel-websites is still difficult.
Luckily the solution is fairly straightforward: Ensuring that the relevant travel-websites feature good profiles of your shop; then post quality articles, pictures and videos on the same websites (e.g. Mafengwo, Baidu Lvyou, Qiongyou).
To this can of course be added PR in traditional media, working with bloggers and key-opinion-leaders, and distributing printed marketing materials to Chinese travellers to your city.
Just as tired as Chinese tourists are of being taken for granted - just as grateful they are when an effort is made to make them feel welcome.
For most shops and brands this is straightforward and inexpensive: The main tools at this stage are a quality Chinese website (hosted in China) and a public WeChat account linked to or mirroring the WeChat account.
Importantly: Strengthening your brand towards Chinese tourists has the added side-effect that it will also increase your visibility and profile towards consumers and possible B2B-partners in China.
Great storytelling is the key to getting the tourist to spend his money on your brand and in your store.
Our approach is simple - and has proven efficient: We first take a step back and define your shop or brand’s unique selling points in the eyes of the Chinese tourists and consumers. We then tell the story from this angle - again and again, and with as much emphasis on photos and videos as possible.
The channels? Your very own public WeChat account, Sina Weibo account - and cooperating with out partners in the online travel media.
At Shanghai Jungle we have developed a structured approach for attracting Chinese tourists to European brands and shops.
We call it The Jungle Funnel.
There is no magic to our method: Its strength lies in a precise targeting of the tourists desires and needs in each of the 4 phases - as well as the continuous reinforcing of our own work by promoting sharing among the followers and tourists themselves.