Here are China’s top tourism business news that you need to know from this week:
WeChat Launches WePage Function and Updates Brand Zone
WePage (微主页) offers brands and retailers the opportunity to create their own branded landing page on WeChat. Different from official accounts, WePage collates and lists all of a brand’s information in one place – including an introduction, top-line products, official accounts, Mini Programs, contact information and more. The Brand Zone update enables brands to be listed at the top of search results in a similar way to sponsored posts on Google. Read here and here for more (English and Chinese).
- Mailman X’s Take: Firstly, this update means a change to the WeChat search bar. The previously decentralized system meant search results of a brand appeared separately (i.e. an official account & Mini Programs). Now, results will be aggregated and display all services and channels as one. Secondly, WePage shares UI and UX similarities with a Mini Program (it will also appear under the Mini Program section of WeChat). WePage is an indication of Tencent’s continued intention to push Mini Programs to its users and perhaps the start of improved SEO programs on WeChat.
Ctrip Launches “Chinese Preferred Hotel” Program
Ctrip’s Chinese Preferred Hotel (CPH) Program aims to help Chinese tourists traveling abroad when choose accommodation. The service scores overseas hotels on how ‘Chinese friendly’ the establishments are. Hotels will gain credit for: Mandarin speaking services, Wifi access, Chinese-friendly front desk, Chinese TV Channels, availability of Chinese tea, the use of Chinese payment apps Alipay and WeChat, availability of slippers and kettles in room, and choices of steamed buns and soy milk for breakfast. Ctrip’s CPH Program currently covers 353 cities in 50 countries, encompassing more than 2,000 hotels. Find out more here (English).
- Mailman X’s Take: From Ctrip’s extensive effort to collect and analyse its user data, it learned more about Chinese tourists’ particular preferences and accomodation expectations. The CPH program is Ctrip leveraging these learnings to better cater to its customer base and position themselves as an industry pioneer. Following Ctrip’s Gourmet List of overseas restaurants, we think this is another step by Ctrip to help foreign brands to be more China-ready.
Also this week:
The Philippines Seeks Vast Visa Processing for Chinese Tourists
To cope with the fact that Chinese tourists are the second top foreign visitors to the Philippines, the country now is exploring ways to shorten the processing of visa on arrival for Chinese tourists, making their entry into the country faster and hassle-free. Deploying Mandarin-speaking personnel to airports to better communicate with arriving Chinese tourists is a big part of the initiative. Click here for details (English).
Chinese Tourists Reluctant to Visit US Amid Trade Spat
Data provided by online travel platform Mafengwo.com showed that in the first half of 2018, search popularity for famous US cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Boston, showed a decline in July (traditionally peak season) amid escalating trade tensions between the two countries. Find out the details here (English).
Alibaba Partners with Guess to Introduce AI Retail Concept
From July 5-7, shoppers can go to a Guess pop up store in Hong Kong Polytechnic University that is equipped with a smart mirror and RFID tagged items. Shoppers can check in to the store with their mobile Taobao QR code, pick up a desired item, and the smart mirror closest to the shopper registers the tag and displays an image of the item as well as the product details on the screen. The smart mirror can also provide mix and match suggestions for items in the store and styling suggestions based on previous purchases made by the user. Click here to find out more (English).
JD.com Aims to Pioneer Unmanned Logistics Network
According to JD’s official video, the ecommerce platform aims to introduce the use of courier drones. The online shopping giant has also stated ambitions to have 24-hour delivery for all products, anywhere in Mainland China. The drones will first drop off parcels at the station, which will then automatically organize and sort the parcels, readying them for robotic delivery. Click here for more (English).
WeChat Shuts Down 500,000 Accounts for World Cup Betting
WeChat has deleted 50,000 accounts and another 8,000 group chats for discussing gambling. WeChat issued a statement this Monday clarifying that this is a part of the government ban and as a platform it complies to China’s law and regulations. While most forms of gambling remain illegal in China, a form of betting on the FIFA World Cup is allowed via the China Sports Lottery Management Centre. Find out more here (English).
WeChat Pay to Focus on Growing Overseas Market
WeChat Pay has stated that it is prioritising outbound Chinese tourists rather than overseas residents in foreign markets due to the huge popularity of the service at home. The first stage of WeChat Pay’s overseas buildout includes some of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, such as Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Thailand. European countries, the US, Australia and New Zealand will be the further expansion goal. Read more here (English)