This story is part of our Platform Deep Dive series, which we worked on with our friends over at Hylink Digital who provided today’s piece on Mafengwo. The rapid rise of the outbound Chinese travel market has brought with it a host of digital platforms and services. Learning who these companies are, and how they operate in the Chinese tourism space is becoming more important all the time for destination marketing organizations and non-Chinese travel companies. 

Beijing-born Mafengwo, one of China’s fastest-growing online social travel platforms, is favored by millennials for its social engagement features. Mafengwo’s success is based on a two-part formula that favors big data and user-generated content, including travel guides, KOL blogs, and a robust Q&A forum.

The core of Mafengwo is its user-generated content with its over one-million user-made travel guides

Founded in 2010, Mafengwo’s social-travel focused platform includes over one million user-generated travel guides with over six million ratings and reviews, providing travelers with an insider’s look into hotels, shopping, weather, landmarks, routes, visas, insurance, and more. Mafengwo also offers travel services such as tickets to sporting events, local tours, and hotel reservations, utilizing several integrated booking sites with premier affiliate deals.

Mafengwo’s travel blog is a user-written diary in which users have the ability to record every memorable moment of their travel histories, keeping those “memory assets” stored safely on the platform. Before users make their final travel decision, they can peruse travel blogs of potential destinations, and then make their travel decisions based on real-life experiences of other travelers.

Mafengwo allows users to not only interact with other travelers, but official DMOs and KOLs as well

The platform also features extensive travel guides and downloadable itineraries, which assist prospective travelers in gathering more user information, such as travel interests and preferences, which in turn enables Mafengwo to provide customized services and booking guidance. From the user’s perspective, the travel guides drive their own travel interests and travel intentions to certain destinations. Mafengwo understands the user’s first step of planning any trip is not the actual process of booking, but the decision of where to go. Within the Q&A section, which promotes even more user engagement, users can ask questions and receive immediate responses from other users, or actual guidance from tourism bureaus and DMOs.

In addition to the travel blog and guides, Mafengwo put its own spin on KOL integration. Dubbed “FENGSHOW,” Mafengwo launched a daily travel blog contest that selects the most exciting post, complete with high-quality content and photos. Currently, Mafengwo sees a pool of 4,500 blogs uploaded daily. “FENGSHOW” is extremely popular and a offers inspiration to users booking similar journeys. It drivels down to authentic insight: users can thoroughly “get to the heart of,” or develop a true sense of a destination with this “copy my trip” model. It also allows users to read, favorite, and comment.

Mafengwo represents an opportunity for DMOs to directly reach out to potential Chinese travelers with curated content and more organic marketing campaigns

Mafengwo understands that user awareness is pertinent in increasing conversions for DMOs and tourism boards. The details of a destination: what makes it great, where visitors can stay, and what to do, all encompass the destination story, which motivates a user to book a trip.  This concept is exactly how Mafengwo disrupted the social-trip travel market and carved its own niche.

DMOs can spark conversation and connect with Mafengwo’s 100 million plus users on a personal, meaningful way with user-generated content, motivating Chinese travelers to book outbound travel. DMOs can inspire such travel through guides, travel blogs, banner ads, reviews, and Q&As, leading  billions of travelers from China reach U.S. destinations.

In late 2017, Mafengwo completed a Series D funding round of $133 million in order to further invest in its platform, content, and data development. In the future, Mafengwo hopes to establish the platform as the leading, largest, go-to online retailer, focused solely on travel.

Mafengwo by the numbers

2017 Sales: $1.5 Billion

2017 Online Transactions: 63,836

2017 Travel Products: 200,706

2017 Q&As: 700,000

Coverage: 60,000 Worldwide Destinations

Number of Registered Users: 120+ million

Number of Active Monthly Users: 100+ million

User Interactivity: Via MFW APP: 4 million DAU, Via PC: 3.5 million UV, Via HTML5: 60 million PV.

User Persona: 62% Female, 38% Male

Target Audience: 25-35 years old

User Engagement: MFW users, 3 hours per day, ranking at Top 1 among Travel Category App.

Hylink Digital is China’s largest independent full-service digital agency, internationally based in Santa Monica, Calif. For more information, visit www.hylinkgroup.com, follow @hylinkdigital on Twitter, or drop us a note at pr@hylinkgroup.com.

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Travel Tech & Social Media