Antoni Gaudí is synonymous with Barcelona. His Art Nouveau-style buildings thrust the city’s architecture into the international spotlight at the turn of the 20th century and remain one of the major attractions drawing millions of visitors to the Catalan capital each year.

While the prodigious architect’s works have been UNESCO World Heritage sites for decades, the nationality of its visitors has changed dramatically with Chinese tourists now constituting the largest number of visitors after Americans. The city’s cultural institutions are reacting by connecting through China’s most popular social media platform, WeChat, an app that brings together messaging, socializing, and digital payment.

One such attraction is Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera (the stone quarry) on account of its rugged facade, which recently launched an official WeChat account. The cultural institution uses the platform to offer tips on trip planning as well providing ticket information, event calendars, and special promotions.

Another site that has tapped into the Chinese app is modernist gem Casa Batlló. The iconic Barcelona building attracts an estimated 200,000 yearly Chinese visitors and has long used WeChat as part of a wider strategy to accommodate visitors. This effort runs alongside its Chinese language website, Weibo account, augmented reality SmartGuide in Chinese, and onsite introduction of Alipay, a mobile payment platform with 900 million users.

Unlike many cultural institutions that use WeChat primarily as an information tool, Casa Batlló goes a step further by including WeChat Pay in its system (via a WeChat Mini-program). This was achieved through a collaboration between Tiqets, a European ticketing platform for museums and attractions, and QYER, a Chinese travel platform with 88 million registered users. The partnership stands as an example to museums and cultural institutions looking for innovative ways to attract and accommodate Chinese tourists.

While many of Barcelona’s cultural sites are benefiting from the surge of Chinese visitors to Spain in financial terms, few are engaging with this ever-growing audience as effectively as Casa Batlló.

Edited by Richard Whiddington