WeChat Mini Apps, Channels, and Official Accounts for Tourism
Every individual or enterprise targeting the China market knows that WeChat, with its one billion monthly active users, is a place to be. This has become especially crucial for tourism destinations even after COVID19 Outbreak. To be able to promote themselves on WeChat tourism destinations have started requesting Official Accounts and WeChat Channels to share text and visual content.
As the new generation of Chinese travelers becomes more tech-savvy tourism businesses and destinations need to discover innovative ways to enhance customer experience. Domestic Chinese companies such as China Southern Airlines has launched a mobile check-in service on WeChat which allows passengers to skip waiting in line and use electronic boarding cards that can be printed at the airport’s self-service check-in facilities.
With rising market demand and more inbound and outbound tourists, China’s tourism sector appears to develop more inventive business models and uses WeChat as a medium to reach Chinese tourists and create a more holistic experience for them.
Online Booking services, Loyalty Programs, Location-Based Services (LBS), Flash Sales, and WeChat IoT tools are what make the travel experience flowless. The user just needs to have the most recent WeChat updates, scan the QR code in the hotel room and start managing the doors, curtains, thermostats, and all other available aspects.
The launch of Channels at the peak of China’s COVID-19 crisis, when all travel was frozen, was hardly ideal timing for international tourism brands to join the platform. However several dozen overseas tourism boards started actively posting video content on WeChat channels at that time.
Among the most popular international accounts, there is Visit Sweden, which posts videos of a Michelin-starred chef cooking meals on a campfire in a lush forest. Northern lights in a live stream held by Visit Sweden got viral catching the attention of 260000 Chinese netizens. PromPeru and Tourism New Zealand were also early adopters, sharing videos to highlight their culture and landscapes.
The advantage of WeChat channels over other short-video platforms, like Douyin (TikTok) and Kuaishou for tourism brands could be the habit of WeChat user users to share content with friends and this has the potential of generating higher traffic. Weibo in its turn has its own advantages, and ideally, it should be part of a multi-platform marketing strategy for China.
The highly demanded content on WeChat channels includes KOL live streams, short videos of beautiful scenery, food, culture, and cute animals. Channel use hashtags and keywords to make search more convenient.
WeChat Official Accounts
WeChat official accounts have become a part of tourism brands’ marketing strategy to create and share content consistently. The Official Subscription Accounts (订阅号) are displayed in the blue folder of subscriptions and are used to regularly share the information. They can send one push notification per day, up to 8 articles in each push, and usually have a lower commitment from users.
Official service accounts (服务号) have more touch points with their users. They appear in the user’s chat list among other friends and group chats and are used for customer service and e-commerce. Official service accounts can have four pushes per month and up to 8 articles in each push.
Official accounts are used mostly by tourism destinations to develop brand awareness and boost audience engagement.
The Louvre, Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai (MoCA) use Subscription Accounts where they deliver content and use the account as a powerful media tool. While London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Beijing’s Palace Museum, and The British Museum use a Service Account, thus having powerful tools for sales and services like WeChat Pay, collecting user data, and enabling geolocation.
All in all, WeChat is the omnipresent tool for tourism destinations enabling the user to discover exciting events and exhibitions, browse museum and gallery collections, and book tickets.
WeChat Mini Programs
The simplest Mini Programs created to promote tourism destinations provide Chinese visitors with practical information, like weather, currency, and visa regulations. More complex mini-programs can incorporate online bookings and reservations through WeChat, WeChat Pay integration, interactive map, audio and video capabilities, big data access, and AI capabilities integration.
Some destinations use gaming features to encourage tourists to visit a certain amount of landmarks, like the city of Melbourne offering prizes to those who check 10 destinations.
Digital Silk Road Center, a Gyumri based tech-company has recently started WeChat Mini Program development for the China market and in July they launched the Visit Armenia mini program about Armenia as a tourism destination.
The beta version of the mini program contains information about the provinces and cities of Armenia and the prominent landmarks all around the country. The user can check the locations on the interactive map to be able to plan the trip more effectively. The mini-app also provides details about local Chinese-speaking guides and the tours they offer. In the further phases of the “Visit Armenia” mini program developmen, features like WeChat bookings and reservations will be added, to add more value to the tourism software.