Marketing to Chinese tourists in Australia

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Marketing to Chinese tourists in Australia

Australia is a popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors. I was only reminded of this on the weekend. Walking through Sydney’s Hyde Park past the water fountain, I was amazed at how many times I heard “yi, er, san” followed by the clicking of a camera. (That’s Chinese for ‘one, two, three’).

The reality is that the Chinese are now the third most frequent visitors to Australia, after those from the UK and US – that’s 600,000 Chinese tourists already for 2012. In recognition of the Chinese potential for tourism, the Australian government is putting aside $30 billion for marketing in China. Hey, even the Northern Territory government is excited about China, featuring the Territory’s  destinations in a CCTV documentary about Australia.

Take the opportunity

In saying this, how are local tour and accommodation providers taking advantage of the rise in the number of Chinese tourists? Are language and culture still issues? My view is that language still holds many tourist destinations back, preventing them from capitalising on the Chinese tourist spend. Their marketing collateral is generally English-only, their call to action can only accommodate English-language speakers and their overseas market penetration is limited. This is fairly short-sighted considering that Chinese is the third most spoken language in the world and in fact there are 800,000 Chinese people already living here – that’s 2.5% of the Australian population.

Five easy steps

It’s not too late to take action, though. My advice to local tour operators is to have a China marketing strategy. This can be done on a budget, which you can increase as revenue rises. Here are my top five action tips:

1. Invest in a well-translated Chinese-language website. Google Translate simply will not do.
2. Once you have a Chinese-language website, invest in some Chinese search engine optimisation so that overseas Chinese can find you online.
3. Develop a package. Chinese consumers love packages, thinking they represent value for money, so if you don’t have a few package options, get onto it.
4. Have a Chinese-language speaker on staff ready and available to take bookings, address inquiries and collect the all-important spend.
5. Talk to your Chinese customers using their web applications – that’s what they are used to and things such as social media are important validation points for their decision making.

To be frank, there are not many tour and accommodation providers doing this well, so it’s a good time to take advantage of this opportunity in line with the Australian government’s push.

Lisa Goodhand

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