March 25, 2013

Hotel brands missing opportunities to engage Chinese travelers online

Hotels that cater to Chinese travelers on the ground with language-native staff and culturally-sensitive amenities should be doing the same online with a strong presence on Chinese social media channels, translated property pages and booking processes, and payment platforms that accept UnionPay credit cards.

Several of the most notable findings of L2′s "Digital IQ Index: China" on the 17 brands including Marriott, Hilton, Westin, Four Seasons, Sofitel, and more, are as follow:

- Marriott is the only brand to accept local UnionPay credit cards. None of the brands included in the study accept the two most popular Chinese payment solutions: fapiao and Alipay.

- Sina Weibo has a hotel booking application, Hotel Assistant, but none of the brands use its on their main page.

- Chinese online booking sites like Ctrip and Qunar are doing a better job of online advertising than hotel brands. Ctrip is purchased against 94 percent of hotel brand terms on Baidu, China’s most popular search engine.

- Hotels are also missing a major opportunity to capture the outbound international Chinese market: 18 percent of hotel sites do not translate their international property pages into Chinese and 29 percent require booking completion in English.

- Almost 100 percent of global hotel brands are on YouTube, but only five brands update accounts on their YouKu and just one is on Tudou. Watching videos is the number one online activity for the more than 500 million Chinese on the Internet.

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