It may seem a bit odd, but China’s biggest shopping day is an increasingly travel-oriented event. Alibaba launched its first Singles’ Day (11/11) in 2009, and it quickly became China’s answer to Black Friday, albeit one that’s almost exclusively focused on e-commerce.
Travel deals have become the most prominent part of the holiday’s tourism focus, and this year Hotels.com, Ctrip, Lvmama, and Qyer are all launching promotions for the holiday. But it’s not just big travel companies that have realized the huge potential of the holiday. Destinations are also taking notice. Though it’s a relatively new strategy, Singles’ Day could become a mainstay for destination marketing in the future.
Most travel promotions on Singles’ Day will be coming from online travel agencies this year, but some destinations are attempting to use the shopping event to attract Chinese tourists
Indonesia is one destination that’s betting e-commerce can help boost their Singles’ Day tourism. For the holiday, Alibaba will be launching an “Indonesia Pavilion” on its Tmall and Taobao e-commerce sites where Indonesian products will be available and packaged with Indonesian travel information. The campaign features five products in total: Luwak Drip from Kapal Api Coffee, Richeese Nabati biscuit, Papatonk Premium Shrimp Crackers, Yang TyTy Sarang Burung Walet (edible swallow nest), and Indomie noodles from PT Indofood.
While the effects of this kind of e-commerce promotion on tourism are largely untested, it seems logical to leverage Indonesia’s worldwide culinary appeal to help promote the country’s inbound tourism.
Indonesia is using e-commerce sales to attract Chinese tourists, leveraging popular Indonesian products in China to raise the country’s profile as a getaway in the Chinese market
A more obvious way to attract tourists on Singles’ Day is to partner with online travel agencies and airlines to offer promotions. That’s exactly what the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is doing by working with two of the biggest online travel e-tailers in China—Alibaba and Ctrip—for their big Singles’ Day push.
Alibaba’s online travel agency Fliggy will be offering special packages and promotions on November 11. However, there is still little information on the exact nature of these promotions. Alibaba will also use its sizable social media presence to promote Thai tourism, and TAT “plans to ask Ctrip, the biggest online travel agent in Asia, to encourage individual tourists to come to Thailand, both this quarter and in next year’s first quarter,” Bangkok Post reported.
Along with these two strategic partnerships, Thailand is also opting to waive the $61 (THB 2,000) visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 20 countries, including China, during the months of December and January. But it remains unclear how Ctrip’s Singles’ Day promotion will actually function. This lack of clarity is partially due to the tourism crisis that TAT and all of Thailand is grappling with at the moment as fewer Chinese tourists have been visiting the nation.
Thailand attracts millions of tourists from all around the world, but China remains the country’s main source of tourists, taking in just under 10 million Chinese tourists in 2017.
While few destinations are specifically marketing to the Singles’ Day shopping crowd, those that are could prove test cases for potentially lucrative tourism marketing strategies for Europe and North America.