Enhancing China’s Outbound Travel Boom Using Sina Weibo

Outbound traveling

According to Reuters, Chinese has overtaken German as the world’s biggest spending travelers. The potential market is still rapidly growing. Last year, Chinese tourists spent 41 percent more on foreign travel than the year before. Here is the reason why outbound traveling destinations should harness Sina Weibo to engage Chinese tourists: In 2012, there were 62 million Weibo accounts related to traveling industry. How to understand those social media savvy Chinese tourists? What are they sharing on Sina Weibo? What are they looking for?

Sina published a white paper analyzing traveling Weibo accounts in 2012. Here are some highlights that I think is helpful for the outbound traveling related companies who have Sina Weibo accounts or interested in opening one:

  • Who is talking about outbound traveling in Sina Weibo?

According to the number of engaging accounts and the number of mentioning, the attention to outbound traveling is far higher than domestic traveling. There are about 2.6 million posts on outbound traveling daily; 2.01 millions of users mentioned outbound traveling at Sina Weibo per day.

  • What are they looking for?

Weibo is a powerful platform for sharing users’ traveling experience. Do you know what content are Weibo users looking for on the platform?

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Before traveling, users tend to search for routes and strategies about the destination. Information about local hotel, flights, travel conditions are preferred too. Organizations who want to engage those users should pay attention to optimize the search result in Weibo on relevant topics.

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During traveling, the most popular activity with Weibo is to show beautiful traveling pictures and thoughts. Data also shows there will be interaction with relevant traveling organizations. Talking to travelers is another opportunity to engage users in the social media while they are traveling.

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After traveling, users like to publish photo albums. If traveling organizations could seize this habit and interact with users, chances are the organization’s account will have more influence, engagement, and followers.

  • What can an official Sina Weibo account do for your company?
    1. Promote destinations and brands. Online comments are the expansion of traditional word-of-mouth, but with faster speeds of spreading and bigger influence. Using Weibo as a promotion tool for traveling destinations or brands has a relatively low cost but higher return on investments. Sharing positive comments from other users could influence potential customers’ choice.
    2. Promote events. Social media enables widespread of events. Combining current news trend with traveling company’s own services boosts the communication outcome.
    3. Innovating by harnessing popular topics. Relationship and horoscope are constantly popular topics on Weibo. Harnessing those popular topics with multimedia content is truly the key point of being authentic, interesting, and innovative.
    4. Off-line experience. Recruiting influential followers to participate in off-line activities enlarges the influence for traveling company’s Weibo account. Companies can provide recruited members free products or services to appeal them engage into the off-line activity. The condition for becoming a recruited member is that he/she has to be a follower of your account. This tactic brings you a larger number of active followers on Sina Weibo.
    5. Public relations’ frontline. In China, Weibo is probably the fastest news feed resource right now, even though sometimes the credibility is questioned due to the lack of gatekeepers. It plays an increasingly influential role in public relations, especially crisis communication. For one thing, crises are communicated faster on Weibo, so does your own authentic voice. Monitoring public opinions, reacting within 24 hours, and interacting with followers give any traveling related companies in crisis a chance to rebuild its reputation.
    6. Customer relations. Weibo can do much more and much better work comparing with traditional ways of customer relations management. By establishing a Weibo account, traveling companies can build up a relationship with Chinese tourists, listening to their voices, and answer their questions online in real-time.

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