As Chinese people's income enters a higher level, the bright
spot of consumption has switched from material needs to
emotional/service needs - cultural, entertainment and tourism
industries have been enjoying sizzling growth these years. Compared
with outbound travel, domestic travel still has the lion's share of
the whole market. In 2014, Chinese tourists made 107 million
overseas trips, a tiny figure compared with 3.61 billion domestic
Kantar Media's Global TGI data across eight markets also showed
that China is the only country whose traveller number had a
significant year-on-year increase. Advertisement is the barometer
of an industry's prosperity. Given the healthy growth of travel
industry, tourism advertisement spending on traditional media
increased 6.7% from a year ago, compared with the 5.9% yearly
decline of the overall traditional media ad spending.
Country/city branding advertisement backbone of travel
* Data source: CTR Media Intelligence
* Monitoring scope: TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, non-digital
out-of-home, office LED screens, public transport screens.
From the theme perspective, country/city branding is the
backbone of tourism advertisement and continues to grow
significantly at 16%. These advertisements not only display the
beautiful scenes and historical sites of a country/city, but also
promotes the attraction of the spirit of a country/city. The first
city branding advertisement appeared in 1999 when Weihai City,
Shandong Province, bought a city branding TV commercial on CCTV-4.
In recent years, people are seeing more city branding commercials
on TV screens not from Chinese cities, but foreign cities as well.
This is another proof of how foreign markets are putting up more
efforts to attract Chinese tourists. According to the World Tourism
Organization, China has been the world's largest source of outbound
travellers since 2012.
Explosive increase of online travel brands'
Online travel brands, though current share of advertisement
share is small, have shown strong momentum in marketing spending.
In 2014, it grew by 4.3 times from a year ago. In 2015, it
continued to grow by 38% from the previous year, the fastest
growing sub category of travel industry. Its share has also jumped
from 1% in 2013 to an estimated 8% in this year.
CTR Media Intelligence data has shown a steady growth of online
travel brands: it expanded from 36 in 2013 to 43 in 2015. However,
the concentration of advertisement spending is very high: the top
10 biggest buyers accounted for 98% of all spending. Supported by
several rounds of fundraising, or even IPOs, the sophisticated
brands will move on to build their brand and expand to traditional
offline consumers by buying ads in traditional media, such as TV.
After several years' competition, Ctrip, Tuniu and LY.com have
emerged as three distant leaders of this segment. In the fourth
quarter of 2014, Tuniu plunked 130 million yuan to become the
naming sponsor of "If You Are the One (Jiangsu Satellite TV)" and
"Here Comes the Bride (Tianjin Satellite TV)". Its commercials
featuring popular Taiwan celebrity father/son Jimmy and Kimi Lin
have been shown on multiple channels in China, apparently with lots
of marketing budget behind the campaign. Alitrip, supported by
Alibaba Group, is a new big buyer of traditional ads, which
accounted for 3% of this segment's ad spending in 2015. In the
future, it is expected to spend even more on advertisement.
Reality shows preferred by travel brands
The first season of "Where Are We Going, Dad?" (Hunan Satellite
TV, 2013) have successfully brought new travellers to the scenic
spots that appeared in the reality show and hence created many of
successful partnerships between scenic spots/cities/countries with
reality shows. Tuniu, for example, sponsored two popular
travel-themed reality shows "Divas hit the road" (Hunan Satellite
TV) and "Sisters over Flowers" (Dragon TV) and reaped good returns.
CTR's research has showed that 43% of "Sisters over Flowers"
audiences were aware of the brand's advertisement, 30% said they
liked the brand more and 27% said they were more likely to buy from
the website. The cooperation between travel websites and TV reality
shows has become even closer recently with many shows having travel
brands and scenic spots/cities/countries as their "official travel
partners" and embed them into the programmes.