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A stroll along the Champs-Élysées en route to an evening of lace, sequins, and feathers — few things are more Parisian than taking in a cabaret show.

Lido is one such quintessential experience and while on-stage the troupe of singers and dancers lean heavily into the romance of the late 1800s, off-stage the company is taking an altogether 21st century approach. Its most recent move is the launch of a WeChat Mini Program, essentially an app running inside the WeChat ecosystem, which will allow Chinese visitors to the French capital to buy tickets digitally and in RMB.

Lido already runs WeChat and Weibo accounts to share its 70-year history with Chinese travelers, but facilitating Chinese visitation ahead of time is equally important. “Lido has always been smart on developing with the Chinese market,” says Charlotte Paradin, Customer Director at Talents Travel, the China-centric marketing agency responsible for the development, “we connected with BNP Paribas so customers can buy on the WeChat account and Lido gets the money transferred directly.”

A 2018 Nielsen study found 93 percent of Chinese travelers would increase spending if mobile payment was more widely and yet European vendors remain slow on integrating WeChat Pay and Alipay. This type of cross-industry connection between Le Lido and BNP Paribas must become the norm for arts institutions globally. If the first wave of individual Chinese tourists to Europe was known for spending extravagantly at high-end retailers, today’s traveler is increasingly culture oriented — and this extends far beyond a speedy trip of the Louvre or a pilgrimage atop the Eiffel Tower. Chinese travelers are seeking culturally specific and digitally sharable experiences.

Lido

Lido launched its WeChat account in summer 2019. Image: WeChat

From renting a car and touring a Loire Valley château to trying fondue at an alpine lodge, the inquisitiveness of Chinese travelers is extending far beyond France’s urban centers. Cultural destinations need to react accordingly by launching on China’s social media platforms and accepting payment digitally.

“Chinese travelers are looking for content that is linked to French history,” says Paradin, “there is work to be done to connect with old, historic, French brands, such as museums, [to Chinese Travelers].”

France may have been a longtime leader in the realm of cultural tourism, but if its institutions fail to cater to the world’s largest and most lucrative travel segment, it will lose out.

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