You can add Vancouver to the list of major cities around the world launching their own WeChat mini-program. Tourism Vancouver, Vancouver Canada’s destination marketing organization (DMO), and Tencent announced yesterday the launch of their new media partnership, which will focus on giving Tourism Vancouver “preferred access to mobile tech, big data insights, and media platforms.” The deal has been in the works for some time and was finalized back in May, but few details about the three-year partnership were released. Nonetheless, it’s unsurprising that the Canadian city is also getting its own mini-program, as it has become Tencent’s go to WeChat tourism partnership promotion tool. Moreover, the city is one of the most popular North American destinations for Chinese tourists, in part because of its large Chinese immigrant community.
Unlike Washington D.C. or London’s mini-programs, the new Vancouver mini-program doesn’t seem to carry the CityExperience branding, but appears to have the same features
According to Tourism Vancouver, the app will provide “real-time services for travel services, including interactive itineraries, check-in features, and location-based information.” The mini-program will also serve as a guide for tourists to locate attractions, hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets. In practice, the new mini-program seems to mirror the previous “CityExperience” mini-programs Tencent has released in partnership with other major cities. However, the Tourism Vancouver press release bears no mention of the CityExperience moniker.
Tourism Vancouver also says that beyond the initial release of the city mini-program, the DMO hopes to utilize Tencent’s big data to further expand how the destination caters services to Chinese tourists, promote mobile payments integration, and provide AI-powered customer service.
Tourism Vancouver has some ambitious big picture goals for the partnership, but how they will function in practice is unknown
Without specifics, however, it’s impossible to know exactly how Tourism Vancouver’s lofty goals for the partnership with Tencent will materialize. Since these travel guide WeChat mini-programs are still relatively new, their ability to drive interest in destinations is still largely untested. Of course, given WeChat’s pivotal place in Chinese consumer culture and travel experiences, it’s hard to argue that having a stronger presence on WeChat is a bad thing.
In fact, destinations have long struggled with the lack of curated travel content in Chinese digital spaces. While well-made, English-language guides abound online, such resources are lacking on Chinese platforms, in large part due to the need to substantially alter the format of content for platforms like WeChat or Weibo. An official presence on WeChat through a mini-program gives Tourism Vancouver an interactive, official outlet that can be updated continuously and utilized by Chinese tourists beyond the planning stage.