Here are China’s top tourism business news that you need to know from this week:
WeChat Gives Subscription Account Folder a Facelift
WeChat has introduced a simple, but game changing facelift to its subscription account folder. The change sees subscription account messages transformed from a list of followed accounts into a more Facebook-style newsfeed. The new display will predominantly feature the 1st and 2nd articles, introduces new ways to promote Mini Programs, and a new ad spot at the end articles. This is the biggest change to WeChat Official Accounts since their launch in 2013. Find out more here (English).
- Mailman X’s Take: Here are the impacts we think the new change will bring:
- More content focused: It is now crucial to grab readers’ attention through 1st article’s title and feature image. All accounts’ articles will have equal exposure, therefore it is important to make your article stand out in the sea of content.
- Less prevalent account menu: Users will now need two or three times more clicks to access an account’s main page. Therefore, we anticipate lower exposure and usage of account menus and auto-response functions.
- Change in advertising price: We expect to see a considerable increase in KOLs’ 1st and 2nd article promotion price, while the 3rd articles and onwards promotion price will drop. This also means viewership of 3rd articles and onwards will see a huge drop and might change publication behavior of only including 1st and 2nd articles. Whereas WeChat ads will have a more prominent and consistent exposure in a wider range of articles.
- Increased exposure of Mini Programs: This one of WeChat’s many ongoing efforts to promote the usage of Mini Programs. We think that this will primarily benefit ecommerce, where potential customers are only one click away from purchasing a product featured in the article.
New display of subscription account folder. Users need to click to see 3rd article onwards.
Weibo Blocks Comedian John Oliver Leading to HBO.com Ban in China
Weibo has blocked and deleted posts referring to British comedian John Oliver after he criticized China’s President Xi Jinping Xi during a 20-minute segment of Last Week Tonight aired by HBO. Following this issue, Chinese authorities proceeded to block HBO.com. Although HBO channel is unavailable in Mainland China, a wide array of HBO shows are highly popular, such Game of Thrones and Band of Brothers which are available through Tencent’s streaming platform. Read more here and here (English).
- Mailman X’s Take: Unlike Mercedes-Benz and Marriott who slipped up in China around the Dalai Lama and Tibet but were quick to backtrack and apologise, John Oliver and HBO are clearly not worried about the Chinese market. For those that are, prevention is key, knowing and avoiding political issues and sensitive terms and topics is crucial to pass China’s strict censorship policy. Having a tool that automatically checks your social media posts for sensitive content before publishing can be very helpful.
Stigo Enters China’s Bike Sharing Industry
Estonia’s ebike company, Stigo, has entered China in hoping to excel in bike sharing industry. Unlike the mainstream B2C bike rental business model, Stigo’s China team claims that they are eyeing the niche B2B rental market, marketing it as a corporate benefit for employees to use for short-distance commuting, ideally in office parks. Companies can rent Stigo for RMB 299 (~$ 45) per unit per month. Learn more here (Chinese).
- Mailman X’s Take: In China’s booming rental industry, B2C business models have proven popular, ranging from bikes and wheelchairs to portable chargers and umbrellas. It will be interesting to see if this new B2B approach will be successful, and if so, how it will affect the industry. That said, Stigo will face various challenges, one of them being there are not many office parks in China.
Also this week:
WeChat Updates Tipping Function, Allowing Tipping on Shared & Reposted Articles
Any original article eligible for tipping can now use the Open Reproduction (开放赞赏) function. By enabling Open Reproduction, all public subscription accounts are able to reproduce the original article. The new update allows three tipping methods: tipping in the original article, tipping in a shared article, and tipping in a republished article. With this update, WeChat hopes to improve reward channels and encourage authentic content production through greater ease and efficiency between content owners and content platforms. Click here to find out more (English).
Part Internet Censorship in Hainan to Boost Tourism
China has announced plans to lift some internet censorship on the southern tropical island of Hainan to promote tourism. Visitors to select areas of Hainan will be able to access Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. According to the plan, authorities intent to turn the province into a free trade port by 2020. Click here for more (English).
Chinese Tourists to Help Revive Tunisia’s Tourism
Due to Tunisia’s relaxed visa policy, the country has seen Chinese tourism more than double, from 7,400 in 2016 to over 18,000 in 2017. The Tunisian National Tourism Office has said they expect to welcome 50,000 annual Chinese visitors by 2020. In the meantime, Tunisia will conduct series of improvements, including providing direct currency exchange and welcoming UnionPay. Find out more here (English).