Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 3.29.18 PMFrench hotel group Accor released a report last week about the online habits of travelers from the Asia Pacific region. Results were based on a survey of 5,400 travelers from 11 APAC countries who had stayed in a hotel at least once in the past 12 months, and used social media at least once a week.

Accor found that Chinese travelers are among the most plugged-in social media users in the Asia Pacific. 91% of those surveyed interacted through social media (posted, liked, or commented on a post) during a trip. Chinese travelers are most likely to friend a hotel brand on social media, but they are more likely to book through an online travel agency than through a brand website. For hotels, that presents an opportunity to reach travelers through social media channels, and drive more bookings to their brand sites.

China is a priority among hotels and other travel brands due to its place as the largest source of foreign tourists in 2012. In addition, Chinese travelers spend more than tourists of any other country. The United Nations World Tourism Organization found that the Chinese spent a total of $102 billion on international tourism in 2012. In our 2013 Digital IQ Index China: Hotels supplement, we predict outbound Chinese tourism to increase 144% by 2020. For hotels operating in China, Sina Weibo was the preferred place for creating a page and attracting followers. Hotel pages on Sina Weibo have an average of 21,431 followers, far less than the average prestige brand’s 167,971 followers. A large part has to do with hotel brands’ subdued activity. They post 13 times a week on Sina Weibo compared to prestige brands’ average of 25 posts per week. Posting more often could lead to more followers, as the Chinese travelers surveyed by Accor said they would follow hotel brands for the possibility of discounts.

L2 research found Shangri-La hotels and resorts to have the highest digital IQ among all hotels operating in China. Shangri-La’s popular iPhone app offers users a chance to win a vacation in exchange for giving the hotel feedback.

L2 research also found that Chinese consumers were more receptive to advertising than Western consumers. Video advertisements were particularly successful when they told a story. Shangri-La’s mini-movie “It’s in our nature”, for example, received 1.3 million views on Youku and Tudou. (The 3-minute clip features a lone explorer lost in a snowy mountain scene. He gives up hope and falls asleep from hypothermia when confronted with a pack of wolves. When he wakes up, he realizes that the wolves spent the night sleeping next to him to warm him up.)

Taking that story-telling approach to social media could be a way for hotel brands to reach hyper-connected Chinese travelers.

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