If you're serious about hosting Chinese business guests, then adding WeChat to your online booking system is a must.
Text: Keith Crane // FOTOS: iStock/shutterstock/WECHAT
Over the last decade, the number of nights that tourists from China have spent in the European Union has more than tripled. In fact, with 139 million travellers, China has evolved into the world’s largest outbound market. That's a large number of heads on beds.
So how can you best reach this growing market? Integrating the Chinese app WeChat into your online booking system is a good step forward. The app enables guests to pay seamlessly with their smartphones. It also allows you to target them directly with messages and information about their stay.
WeChat started out as a simple messaging (and translation) app but now offers a range of services. In fact, some Chinese tourists prefer it to western Apps such as Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp. It's described as a “dedicated template for hotels to reach Chinese tourists, both before and during their stay, enabling Chinese users to book trips through a completely mobile-friendly interface.”
Take a WeChat mini-programme, for example. This is an app within an app, which saves users time and memory space on their smartphone. It also allows you to target your customers with marketing messages and information, such as your hotel facilities, menus, directions and nearby attractions. Interestingly, the travel sector now makes up 17% of all WeChat Mini-programmes in China.
Once you've set up your WeChat account and mini-programme, you need to make sure you have a secure method of payment. This is where WeChat Payments comes in. Rather than having your staff go through the whole card process, guests simply scan a QR code with their smartphones, enter the sum to be paid and the money is transferred straight into your account, from RMB into your local currency.
Tencent, the company that owns WeChat, has invested considerably to ensure that WeChat Payments provide global secure transactions through their TenPay platform.
It's also simpler than settling with a credit or debit card and cheaper than the likes of Visa or MasterCard. It seems to be the way to go to attract Chinese visitors. As one American businessman in China said: “A WeChat presence for your business will go a long way for Chinese tourists.”