A New Form of Destination Marketing in China


The continued growth of travel on a global scale has forced destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to come up with new ways to attract visitors. Ten years ago, people’s income was lower and information was not always correct. Therefore, when people were making their travel decisions, they relied on the information that advertisers delivered. But as information is transmitted efficiently like it is today, consumers become smarter. If you say your destination has the most beautiful scenery and best services, they’ll ask you to prove it.

Travel decisions are affected by not only rational factors but also emotional factors. By stirring up sight (pictures and video), sound (music), and other senses, it will easily improve marketing results. In China, TV shows, for example, have become a new form of destination marketing. Where Are We Going, Dad? is a reality TV series that gather some Chinese celebrities to challenge parental situations, which turns out to have increased visitor number to locations featured in the show, such as Snow Village in the remote northeast of China and Jiming Island off the coast of Shandong.


In China, Baidu wants to use some new ad displaying forms to help destination advertisers raise their ads’ visibility and click rate, such as creative writing, graphics, and direct telephone bookings. More than two billion ads are displayed on wireless devices per day in China, and Baidu alone works with over 800,000 active online advertisers. The result is that users are presented with an overabundance of information, leaving very little time for users to sift through them all.


Another new trend for DMOs is that consumers are now engaging with travel information during their trips, while social media becomes more and more important. DMOs should be following those travel KOLs who are in a certain destination to retweet their tweets, share their posts or even boost a few favorite posts if there’s still enough budget. DMOs should try to create long-term relationships with travel KOLs. If they become experts on a destination, they will frequently speak about it and write about it, so DMOs could get more value from it. It’s suggested to use some of their photos and videos for promotional purposes. Many of these KOLs are excellent photographers or videographers; DMOs can get some great content from them at a reasonable price. DMOs could either include the images as part of the agreement for a higher daily rate or agree on a per-photo rate to purchase some of the best images after the campaign.


At the same time, DMOs should keep an eye on the changes in social media. For instance, one month ago, a KOL may have about 1,000,000 followers on Instagram and all of them could see every post published by the KOL. The next day, a simple policy from Mark Zuckerberg may change everything, leaving only a few followers to have the access to see those posts.

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