International travel brands sought to capitalize on Chinese holidays in the third quarter of 2018 with increased activity on WeChat to draw in more tourists, according to a new report from Chinese tourism marketing agency Dragon Trail Interactive. While it isn’t known whether readers were persuaded to book their holiday excursions based on those posts, brands and destinations that have been popular with tourists remained popular on WeChat.

The report that was published on Wednesday, however, shows an increase in activity from the previous quarter, with travel brands posting more often to attract Chinese tourists. Some of increase in posting may be attributed to the Mid-Autumn Festival in late September and the National Day holiday the first week of October, prior to which travel brands ran promotions to increase sales.

Major brands Royal Caribbean International, AirAsia, and Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) all retained their top rankings in their respective categories. The Los Angeles Tourism Board, however, was knocked from its top spot in Q2 to fourth place.

While most of the top-ranked travel brands in each category had larger numbers of posts in the quarter, JNTO was one of the few to only have a modest increase from the previous quarter with 47 total posts, up from 44 in Q2. The national tourism organization, however, saw a decrease in total views, average views, and post likes in the quarter. Tourism New Zealand was the only brand in the top five to increase the average number of views while decreasing the number of posts as its rank rose from fourth to second. Tourism Australia was the only one of the top five in the category to have fewer posts in the quarter, but it retained its no. 5 spot as it only saw a slight decrease in views and likes.

The National Day holiday and Mid-Autumn Festival gave travel brands more opportunities to connect with WeChat users

Many brands ranked in the top 10 in each category reflect the trend for short-haul Chinese outbound travel, with some major destinations in the mix. As cities in Japan were top destinations during China’s National Day “Golden Week” holiday, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that WeChat users paid more attention to its national tourism account. The exception to this was in the destination marketing organization (DMO) category, where long-haul destinations dominated. In particular, U.S. DMOs have done well the past two quarters despite a growing trade war and harsh rhetoric from the Trump administration.

Some DMOs and national tourism offices may attract more interest from WeChat users because of what they post rather than the frequency of posts, Dragon Trail suggests. The marketing agency noted that JNTO often posts travel guides to different regions as well as bed & breakfast recommendations. The organization’s top post was a week before the weeklong National Day holiday and was about convenience store foods—not exactly the typical travel article for planning an itinerary. But the topic still resonated with its audience.

Japan National Tourism Organization found a way to better connect with WeChat users with fewer posts than most of its competitors

The Louvre remained at fourth among museums and attractions; it was followed by the British Museum in sixth and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, which received fewer likes but more views, in seventh. The museums reinforced China’s interest in Western art as part of their tourism plans. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Art Institute of Chicago were also in the top 10 in the category.

Brand USA ranked 10th in the quarter, the same place as the previous quarter despite increasing the number of posts and receiving more likes.


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