This article has been extracted from ‘Get China Ready’ ebook. To download the whole ebook, click here.


In part 3 of the 4-part paper, you will understand how the Chinese consumer searches, chooses and purchases travel products and how to appeal to this buying behavior.

China Outbound Market Series:

Part 1: Introduction of China outbound market
Part 2: Who are the Chinese travelers and what destination products do they buy
Part 3: Chinese buying behavior
Part 4: Trends and tips for how to get China-ready.

Being new to outbound travel and being smart buyers, Chinese travelers tend to have a structured buying behavior represented by the information below.

1st step: Finding the needs and listing where could satisfy the needs

The first step is about looking for inspiration, where destination and brand marketing have the highest impact. As mentioned in our previous article. Although the traditional travel agencies still have a strong hold on the market, with stronger brands, online travel agencies like Ctrip or Alitrip and UGC websites like Qyer or Mafongwo have become a reliable source to find destination information. Nearly half of outbound travelers ask the family and friends for ideas about where and how to travel.

2nd step: Comparing which would be the best offer

Chinese are known to be bargain hunters. Naturally, sales channels who help them to find these bargains tend to be the most popular. For online resellers, Alitrip and Ctrip offer great comparison tools between different products but also different providers of the same product. Beyond the bargain, Chinese travelers are very much concerned about the things which could go wrong along the way. 3/4 of the travelers consider being able to communicate easily to the service provider as a key decision making factor. that if there is any issue they can feel comfortable enough to communicate their issues easily.

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3rd step: Buying behavior online vs offline

Whilst online buyers will prefer the cheap price, fast check out and confirmation and the flexibility of the customer service, offline buyers, on the other hand will prefer the dedicated account manager they can go to for any issue. To dive in deeper, here is a quick read that contrasts the difference between online vs offline travel booking.

4th step: Experience the tour

The actual experience of the tour or activity.

5th step: Sharing experiences with social circles

Being connected everywhere, Chinese travelers tend to share their experience shortly after the experience, mostly via Wechat. Although used less than OTAs for research, word of mouth has a much higher impact on the decision making of future travelers. This word of mouth is so strong it can make and destroy brands in a matter of days.

When disappointed, the issue that comes up the most often is that it was difficult for them to communicate. It is therefore important to make sure that signs and staff are adapted to service mandarin speaking travelers.

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