With more than one billion active accounts, WeChat is one of the most popular marketing channels for brands trying to reach Chinese consumers.
International travel brands including national tourism boards, destination marketing organizations, airlines, cruise lines, hotels and attractions publish content on WeChat with the hopes of attracting the growing number of Chinese outbound travelers.
Since 2017, Dragon Trail Interactive has tracked travel brands’ official accounts on WeChat, looking at total view for published articles, total number of articles, most-viewed articled and “like” on articles (it has tracked the categories of attractions and hotels only since March 2018).
In its latest report comparing 2018 to 2017, the top 10 airlines and cruise lines saw significant increases in average views per post – airlines more than 7% and cruise lines more than 25%.
AirAsia is the leader of the air sector by far, getting nearly eight million article views in 2018, more than 5.5 times that of the second-place airline, All Nippon Airways.
Other than AirAsia, only three airlines got more than 100,000 views for a single WeChat post in 2018: All Nippon Airways, Finnair and Korean Air.
In analyzing All Nippon Airways’ WeChat strategy, Dragon Trail Interactive says; “Most of its top-ranking articles were about discounted tickets to Japan, and the airline also took advantage of the strong interest in travel to Japan in 2018, promoting the appeal of the destination as well as the flights.
“All Nippon Airways gave followers several opportunities to vote, with one article asking WeChat users to pick their favorite flight attendant uniform, and another with voting on one’s favorite in-flight meal.”
For airlines based in the United States, United Airlines ranked the highest at eighth on the list with nearly 500,000 total views. But United’s average views per post – just over 4,000 – marked a 78.6% decrease compared to 2017.
In the cruise sector, Royal Caribbean remained on the top of the list for the second year, with more than 2.6 million total views for its WeChat posts and an average of more than 15,600 views per post.
But Costa Cruises, which ranked third in 2017, dropped to seventh place in 2018, and moving up the rankings were Viking Cruises and Dream Cruises, taking over second and third places, respectively.
Regarding Viking’s dramatic increase of more than 218% in average article views, Dragon Trail Interactive says: “The account has posted 50% more articles in 2018 than the year before. Second, Viking started the year with a very well-received and long-running competition that got lots of people involved with the brand account, giving winners the chance to take their parents on a Rhine River cruise.
“Thirdly, the articles are beautiful, with lots of large, vibrant photos, maps and clear information about their products. Fourthly, European river cruises – Viking’s product – are a growing market for Chinese outbound travelers. And finally, Viking has invested significantly into WeChat advertising.”
Museums and attractions and hotels are two new categories Dragon Trail Interactive has been tracking since the second quarter of 2018.
Hong Kong theme parks Disneyland and Ocean Park led the rankings for museums and attractions, with the Louvre, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and Versailles rounding out the top five.
“Chinese tourists have shown particular interest in Parisian cultural attractions this year, and this is reflected on WeChat,” says Dragon Trail Interactive.
For hotels, the analysis found international brands primarily use their WeChat accounts to post content about properties in China rather than those overseas.
“However, brand recognition can be important for international bookings as well, and many of the big-name hotel brands use their WeChat accounts to promote their membership programs, which extend globally,” says Dragon Trail Interactive.
Marriott, Starwood, Hilton and Shangri-la rank first through fourth, averaging about 5,000 to 6,000 views per post. The only single-property account in the top of the rankings is the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, but Dragon Trail Interactive says this is not a sign that overseas hotels should give up on WeChat.
“Rather than a marketing tool with articles that reach thousands, hotels can think of WeChat as more of a service and communications tool, which Chinese guests can use for booking requests, and to get concierge recommendations, check-in, Wi-Fi and other on-site services to make them feel at home.”
Dragon Trail Interactive also notes that in December 2018, WeChat changed its “like” button to a “good looking” button that shares articles with friends on the platform, so this may improve results for travel brands in 2019.
*This article was originally published by the much-respected Phocus Wire