Chinese tourists thoroughly research and plan their trip before they leave home. This includes where they will stay, where they will eat and what shops they will visit. And once they have made their travel plans they tend to stick with them.
We talk to Peter Thomas, Smartpay’s head of marketing, direct sales and customer success, about how businesses can attract more Chinese consumers by harnessing the capabilities of Alipay and WeChat Pay.
1. What kind of businesses are you seeing leverage the Chinese market?
A lot of the smaller businesses we work with have been quick to realise the potential of the Chinese market.
Erik’s Fish and Chips in Queenstown and Wanaka is a Smartpay business that’s enthusiastic about accepting payments through Alipay and WeChat Pay. Erik’s has thought about the end-to-end experience of Chinese tourists: they’ve used Discover, Alipay’s marketing platform, to attract Chinese tourists to their shop; they’ve created a Chinese version of their menu; and they take payment in the way Chinese use back home.
It’s also not just hospitality and tourism businesses seeing the potential of Alipay and WeChat Pay. One customer excited about the prospect of tapping into the Chinese international student market is a dentist located near a university campus.
By accepting Alipay he can appeal to these students – the payment app is linked to their bank accounts back home so their parents can easily top up their funds if they need to. He will also be able to market to them directly through a free listing on Discover.
2. So in addition to being payment methods, Alipay and WeChat can help with marketing your business?
Absolutely. Both Alipay and WeChat offer marketing platforms where you can reach a staggering number of Chinese. And that’s the key with these payment methods – they’re lifestyle apps that users engage with every day. Payment is just an extension.
As part of accepting Alipay, businesses get a free listing in the Discover platform.
Accessed easily by a key button on the home page of the Alipay app, Discover is a great tool for connecting with Chinese before, during and after their travels. Alipay is part of the Alibaba ecosystem which also includes Fliggy (an online travel site) and TMall, which helps New Zealand businesses sell products into China.
Both Alipay and WeChat Pay run campaigns around key seasons in the Chinese calendar with offers funded by the apps rather than the merchant. We make sure our customers have access to any of these campaigns that will benefit them.
3. How does Smartpay help NZ businesses become more visible to Chinese?
We help our customers maximise this exposure with free translation of their content to Chinese, and advice on which products or services will be most relevant to this market given cultural preferences. We encourage our customers to run their own promotions and drive foot traffic with offers and coupons, and we’ve made this easy to do.
As an Alipay partner in both New Zealand and Australia, we’ve been able to leverage this relationship to get exclusive benefits for our customers. Erik’s, for example, is enjoying further promotion of their coupon in their local city landing page.
For businesses wanting to extend their reach further we’ve partnered with specialist marketing partners who can provide additional support to our customers.
4. Who do you see doing a great job of marketing to Chinese?
Ngāi Tahu Tourism is another Smartpay business who has embraced Alipay and WeChat Pay. Welcoming one million visitors a year across iconic attractions such as Rotorua’s Agrodome and the Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Ngāi Tahu Tourism have started rolling out acceptance of Alipay and WeChat Pay across their attractions.
The company has a dedicated Chinese marketing manager as they recognise the needs and expectations of these tourists are different from tourists from Western countries. They plan on running regular promotions and coupons through the Discover platform. In addition, they are also looking to leverage the broader Alibaba ecosystem such as Fliggy, so they can capture visitors during the all-important before travel planning stage.