How Independent Hotels Make Big Money on Chinese FIT Travelers: The Mini Program
Compass Edge knows there is a good reason why independent hotels selling rooms to Chinese travelers should have a “Mini Program” on WeChat.
Only 10% of more than a billion potential Chinese travelers have a passport, and this percentage is growing. Chinese travelers are more and more traveling as Free Independent Travelers (FIT) instead of relying on group travel, and this is an entirely new opportunity that is exploding for destinations and hotels selling to this audience.
The one company pioneering this developing market and helping to generate a huge opportunity for independent hotels and destination is Hong Kong-based Compass Edge.
eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz caught up with the CEO of Compass Edge, Anita Chan, during ITB Berlin.
Compass Edge works with over 550 independent hotels and small- to medium-sized hotel groups. The company was founded in 2008 and launched the GO CHINA Branding Solution in 2015 to help independent hotels to be China-Visible for the China outbound market. It implemented over 120 successful China online branding projects.
In 2017, the company opened its Europe headquarters in London and an official China IT&Travel Service company in Wuhan, China, in 2018.
Anita is a very hard-working and creative Canadian-Hong Kong executive and became CEO in 2014. Her team is bilingual.
According to McKinsey, 90% of Chinese travelers will not make direct room bookings but will instead use a travel agency or online booking platform (Online Travel Agency – OTA) when booking trips abroad. Independent hotels know this and work with the major OTAs around the world.
The key is to capture revenue after the Chinese traveler arrives at a destination.
That is where Compass Edge steps in to capture and capitalize on the booming Chinese outbound market with revenue opportunities other than the hotel booking.
Anita Chan said: “When working with Compass Edge, the focus is on ancillary revenue and local experience. The China market is big. There is now a cost-effective way to target Chinese travelers that will travel to my destination when they are at my destination.
“Chinese are quite advanced in the digital world. However, the world is different when Chinese tourists are getting to unfamiliar territory. While Chinese may spend hours in researching attractions, hotels, and restaurants at home and put a substantial time in to get the very best deal possible, this may be different once they get to their destination.”
“Why can’t I get my information on WeChat (the Chinese language search and chat feature with over a billion daily users). Why can’t I book on using my apps?” they want to know.
That is where the Mini Program comes into play.
A “stand-alone” Mini Program will face fierce competition. Compass Edge works with Key Opinion Leaders aka Influencers) to promote Mini Programs to the Chinese traveler via multiple entry points such as GoHotelsGo, WeChat Official Account, KOLs, P2P sharing, and article sharing.
In addition, Compass Edge will leverage the unique social fission energy in China like the use of “HongBao” (Red Packet) to acquire and engage Chinese for their hotel clients.
Anita explains that a Chinese guest who wants to know about the spa menu and opening hours of a restaurant at a participating hotel can find a CS (Chat Session) icon on any screen to open a chat session on Live Chat and find pre-programmed responses for 80% of all questions and receive responses immediately.
For more complex issues like a maintenance issue, a user can talk to a human interface who would contact the hotel and get a response in Chinese.
In short, the Compass Edge Mini Program helps hotels to offer proper customer service to Chinese guests with the help of technology.
“Chinese guests may spend hours researching for the best deal, but once they get to their destination they are relaxed and ready to spend money,” Anita told eTurboNews.
The Mini Program helps to communicate and offer instant room upgrades, an upgrade for a taxi compared to a limousine, available tours, and restaurant and show or spa reservations.
Anita explained that through Compass Edge B2B2C platform, their clients can pick up substantial additional revenue. The Mini Program is not only attracting guests at a participating hotel, but Chinese travelers close by to get them to buy services from a Compass Edge hotel client.
The Mini Program can show restaurant menus and reviews by other Chinese guests who give first-hand feedback all aimed at an instant decision and business for the Chinese travelers.
While WeChat is a closed platform, the WeChat Mini Program is open to all users and will show up under “Discover” said Anita.
In summary, Compass Edge helps hotels to go deep to capture ancillary revenue and to enhance the local experience for Chinese FIT travelers.
Steinmetz asked: “Is this affordable?”
Ready to learn about ten of thousands of dollars every month to take advantage of such a system, Anita’s response was almost too good to be true: “Go China Online Branding Solutions starts from only $500 per month.”
Branding is everything in China, and Compass Edge has the solution.
For WeChat Mini Program, although the official pricing is not out yet, it will be within a very affordable price range similar to Go China Online Branding Solutions to start.