WeChat is the social media platform that has taken Asia by storm and is slowly becoming a popular tool around the rest of the world as well. WeChat began as a messaging service and was originally compared to Facebook and Twitter, both of which are not accessible in China. But WeChat has quickly evolved to an entire platform that can also conduct business transactions easily and quickly. If you are in the tourism industry, becoming familiar with WeChat and WeChat pay will give you an advantage in securing more business from the Chinese visitor market.
As regular readers of my blog know, I love teaching others how to use WeChat. Like any tool, it feels a bit daunting at first but can become second nature pretty easily. And Chinese tour operators are still impressed when they realize you know how to exchange business information through the app. Check out my WeChat basics tutorial and WeChat tips and tricks video to learn how to get comfortable using this in your professional life.
How the wallet works
Every WeChat account comes with a wallet. ( At this point U.S. based accounts can’t set up a wallet, but I am sure that will be changing). Individuals can attach bank accounts to their wallet, or a credit card. Credit cards are still a relatively new product in China, so WeChat basically eliminated the need for them by tying a bank account to a form of payment. Why should U.S. vendors consider accepting WeChat pay? This article says:
Silicon Valley-based Citcon provides hardware, a free API, and customer service to U.S. vendors who are willing to take WeChat or Alipay payments from Chinese customers. Chinese tourists simply have to take out their mobile phone and scan their QR code to pay merchants from their WeChat accounts. WeChat Pay’s U.S. expansion makes perfect sense. Tencent can keep traveling users on their platform while tapping into a very lucrative market. Chinese outbound tourism spending reached over $260 billion last year, according to the World Tourism Organization, and there were hundreds of thousands of Chinese students in the United States. Citcon says that it is already working with around 3000 merchants including hotels, airports, museums, restaurants, and amusement parks.
The QR code is back?
One of the basic tools in WeChat is the QR code. It wasn’t that long ago that tourism marketers declared the QR code a failed tool and stopped using it in advertising. Well, it’s back with a vengeance on the WeChat platform. There is a QR code reader embedded in the app, and sharing contact information with others is as easy as scanning a QR code. WeChat pay takes it a step further and gives each users wallet a QR code for transactions. The QR code tied to the wallet changes constantly so there is little chance of accessing someone’s wallet.
How common is it in China? Last year I traveled to a historic tourism site outside Shanghai. This gentleman was selling a traditional frozen dessert out of his insulated box. But he took payment only with WeChat pay! So if this very small business accepts mobile payments, you can believe that street vendors, stores, and everyone else does as well!
WeChat pay – an entire e-commerce platform in your pocket
These recent videos will show how ubiquitous this app is:
Mobile payment options through Apple Pay and Samsung Pay and Android pay do exist in the U.S. So I started adding credit cards to my Apple pay wallet and have started using it when I buy groceries. Not only do I feel cool, but it is helping me get comfortable with using my phone for payments. Add a payment method to your phone and test it out. Then when its time for your destination or attraction to start taking WeChat pay, you will already know what mobile payments are about.
Interested in having your destination become WeChat ready? I offer trainings that will help your attractions understand the importance of the Chinese market and learn how to use WeChat to build business. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Guest post by Sally Berry: Sally has held many positions in the tourism industry including sales manager at attractions, sales director at a regional DMO, a stint as a receptive operator and now the Tourism Sales and Marketing Manager at the Corning Museum of Glass. The Attractions Coach blog came about after peers kept asking for advice and consulting jobs. Writing is a passion of mine and I enjoy helping tourism pros become more successful. Learn more here.
Social Marketing Strategies for Travel and Tourism
About Catherine Heeg
Catherine Heeg is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry.
She creates and delivers meaningful, dynamic workshops that meet your unique needs in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry. She and her team help travel, tourism and hospitality pros design and implement social media marketing strategies and tactics that drive traffic to their social and web sites. Learn more…