Chinese Internet giant and owner of WeChat, Tencent, is continuing to make inroads into tourism by partnering with various global tourism boards and cruise brands since 2017.
The partnerships include a strategic cooperation with Dubai Tourism for smart tourism, developing mobile technology with interactive digital services for Tourism Vancouver, plus giving a preferred marketing platform on the messaging social media ads to Destination British Columbia.
The aim is to draw more Chinese traveller traffic by building brand awareness and product familiarity before Chinese tourists visit destinations.
According to Tencent’s vice president Poshu Yeung, targeting tourism players outside of China is a natural move for the company.
He explained: “At first we did our social ad solutions like WeChat or in other Tencent portals to sell ads. Along the way we discovered demand was not just in China but also from overseas brands and merchants, i.e. tourism boards. This was a bonus given China’s massive outbound travel numbers and that its overseas spending exceeds that of many other countries.
Combining Tencent’s social ad solutions with WeChat’s cross-border Pay solutions, the company found a new value proposition.
“Our company aims to build different platforms or holistic solutions so these add up to a valuable addition to our cloud centres, AI (artificial intelligence), big data and even facial recognition technology to build up a smart city. Smart travel is applicable to NTOs, therefore we started talking to NTOs and cooperates for development. So far, Singapore has already signed up and recently we also secured Dubai.”
Beyond the first-of-its-kind partnership with Dubai, Yeung explained that the company will focus on working closely with two or three NTOs in order to build word-of-mouth reputation.
“It took three to six months to fully develop mutual and deeper understanding between us and the clients. Then we worked extremely closely with them to define the solutions.”
Yeung added: “Apart from accessing different attractions or hotels for information we are also exploring facial recognition for hotel check-ins or ticketing, thereby benefitting attractions and visitors.”
Such innovations could eventually eliminate the need for visitors to queue to get tickets to enter attractions, he said.