Only a few years ago, having a video marketing strategy to connect with Chinese outbound tourists was an extra, a “nice to have.” Today, it’s essential, even at a time of pending international travel.  

Not only is the volume of Chinese internet users that consume video staggering (94 percent watch video and 88 percent watch short-video, according to the China Internet Network Information Center), but what people watch proves influential in where they travel. Tellingly, short-video watched on Douyin and Kuaishou is more persuasive than personal recommendations from friends and family, according to a 2021 Travel Daily survey, ranking second only to photos shared on WeChat and Weibo. 

As digital marketing agency, Dragon Trail Interactive, laid out in a recent webinar, although around 50 percent of DMOs and NTOs began using short-video to reach audiences pre-COVID-19, now is the time to reinvigorate strategies and for those that have paused, to consider new campaigns.  


Why short-video now?

Despite the impossibility of cross-border travel for much of the past year and a half, Chinese viewership of international travel content rates remain high — Douyin, for its part, boasted 330 million viewers of travel content in 2020, an increase of 143 percent.  

In addition, new trends emerged domestically from rural and self-drive traveling to the newfound importance of health and wellness — marketing content from international tourism stakeholders should reflect these developments. “Sowing the seeds of travel inspiration shows Chinese visitors what you have to offer and instills confidence, which you can do more convincingly through video,” said Dragon Trail Interactive’s Sienna Parulis-Cook, Director of Marketing and Communications.

How to choose the right short-video platform(s)?

With a dozen or more popular short-video platforms and literally hundreds of livestreaming platforms, choosing between the platforms on offer is intimidating and overwhelming. 

The key for travel stakeholders is to prioritize creating strong video-content (particularly content localized for the Chinese market), incorporate video into existing accounts on Chinese social platforms, and connect with key opinion leaders (KOLs) to maximize reach. 

“Start by distributing content on the platforms on which you are already active. Get video out there,” said Parulis-Cook, noting that Tencent’s WeChat Channels may be a good first step for many. “Though if [organizations] already have an official account on WeChat, it is very easy to open a WeChat Channels account,” she adds. “WeChat is welcoming and will giving tourism operators support and help.” 

Chinese Travel Marketing: Short-Video

Image: Dragon Trail Interactive

What video content options are available?

Image: PromPerú on WeChat

In creating short-video content for China, there are broadly five types of video of increasing involvement and effectiveness: 

Simple repurpose — posting existing non-Chinese language videos onto platforms

Subtitled repurpose — posting existing videos with Chinese subtitles 

Advanced repurpose — editing existing videos to localize for Chinese market 

Creation — specifically plan, write, and film video for the Chinese market

Other options include outsourcing video creation to KOLs who specialize in making video or creating User Generated Campaigns (UGC) through which you incentivize visitors to share videos taken at your destination.

What are the keys to planning video content?

Parulis-Cook outlines three main considerations: intended audience, positioning and purpose, and channel mix.

First, who is your target audience? Consumers or Chinese travel agents? If it’s consumer-facing, do you hope to reach a mass audience or a specific sector or niche (i.e. families or outdoor sport enthusiasts)?

Second, is the purpose of the video to inspire or to inform? In the post-pandemic landscape, what are you specifically trying to communicate about your destination? 

Third, which platform is best suited to your content? Or inversely, if there is a specific short-video platform you hope to leverage, what type of content works best on that platform (i.e. KOL content works best on Bilibili)?