Chinese tourism marketing agency Dragon Trail Interactive published a report ranking global travel brands on WeChat this summer, covering everything from national tourism offices to hotels and tourist attractions.
Developed by Tencent in 2011, WeChat is one of the most widely used multi-purpose mobile apps in China today, used for everything from messaging to mobile payments. The app has become an important strategic platform where brands can set up official subscription accounts with vast numbers of followers. The report looked at travel brands’ official subscription accounts and evaluated success based on total views.
Results show that the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board edged out the Hong Kong Tourism Board and claimed first place in the destination marketing organizations (DMOs) category with 49 posts in the second quarter that gained an average of 5,246 views each. (Analysis showed that on average, the most successful WeChat accounts posted regularly but not often, i.e., weekly.)
Los Angeles took top honors in the DMO category
The Japan National Tourism Organization and Tourism New Zealand were the top national tourism offices with over 10,000 views per post, according to the report which was focused specifically on affluent Chinese travelers.
As for airlines, Western airlines lag in making use of WeChat. AirAsia took first place in the category with 49 posts and roughly two million total views. That high level of market exposure was significantly better than the second best performer, the Philippine budget airline Cebu Pacific. The only airlines outside Asia to break into the top 10 were Finnair, United Airlines and KLM at fifth, sixth and ninth places respectively.
Finnair, United and KLM were the only airlines outside Asia to rank in the top 10
Other than airline travel, cruise lines and cruise tours have also become popular in China in recent years. Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line were the top companies in the category.
As for specific tourist attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland was the runaway winner with 180,926 views and 953 likes over 26 total posts. The second place brand Ocean Park Hong Kong received 24,278 total views and 143 total likes for their modest 12 posts. The remaining destinations in the top 10 for the category were in Australia, Europe and the U.S., and included the Museum of Modern Art and Art Institute of Chicago.
Regarding hospitality, large hotel groups with global reputations, unsurprisingly, are in the lead. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is the top performing company in this category with 271,364 total views and 1,592 total likes. Marriott follows closely behind with 220,514 views and 1,145 likes.
According to the report, for specific content and tourism products, consumers are most concerned with food and family leisure activities. Promotional tourism products, followed by local cultural sights and travel highlights, are most popular with tourists. Readers pay extra attention to seasonal travel highlights, such as cherry blossoms in Japan. Travel brands have responded to these needs, showing that they’re not only dedicated to creating enriching travel experiences for customers but ideal experiences in online content. Customized and detailed travel guides branded with celebrities are also popular and take in considerable views.
In Q2, apart from top performing cruise lines and the LA Tourism & Convention Board, almost all top-ranked travel brands have headquarters in Asia. This was due to time-limited travel (most public holidays in Q2 were short, three-day holidays, such as Qingming Festival and Labor Day) and the closer proximity of Asian destinations to Chinese consumers.
Looking at the future—and given that the third quarter covers the longer National Day holiday—it will be interesting to see if Asian travel brands can retain their top positions on WeChat, or whether the European and American travel brands will take advantage of the longer holidays.