How travel brands are using WeChat to reach Chinese consumers

With more than 963 million active users each month, WeChat is the leading social media app in China.

Since the start of 2017, Chinese digital marketing agency Dragon Trail Interactive has collected weekly data on how national tourism offices, destination marketing organizations, airlines and cruise lines are using WeChat to market their offerings to Chinese consumers.

Dragon Trail has now released a report analyzing its full-year 2017 data.

Topping the list for tourism offices is Destination Canada, which made 256 posts in the app that received a total of nearly 2.1 million views and more than 10,000 likes.

Tourism New Zealand, which ranked fifth overall, had the top post of the fourth quarter of 2017, an article titled “The colors of New Zealand at the end of the year,” which garnered nearly 34,000 views by December 17.

The report notes that this post, which showed viewers a colorful tour of New Zealand, aligns with a trend of popularity for posts that include beautiful nature photography.

In the category of DMOs, three Asian organizations topped the list: Hong Kong Tourism Board, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Macao Government Tourism Office.

Four North American accounts followed: Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, British Columbia and Texas Tourism.

Hong Kong - a popular destination for Chinese outbound tourists - attracts WeChat users with its themed guides such as “Hong Kong with children” or guides to Hong Kong street art or restaurants.

Air Asia is the predominant brand on WeChat in the airline category. The carrier got more than seven million total views and an average of more than 41,000 per post in 2017.

For cruise lines, the main Royal Caribbean International account and a secondary one called Royal Caribbean International Deals topped the list. Dragon Trail says most cruise line posts are sales promotions, followed by articles about itineraries or facilities.

But counter to this, the most viewed cruise line post of 2017 was political in a nature: Royal Caribbean got 75,000 views for its announcement in March about cutting South Korean ports from its China cruises due to tensions between the two countries over Seoul’s deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.