NextportChina – how to get into the Chinese tourist’s European itinerary

Five years ago, Thijs van der Toom launched his services to connect European businesses to Chinese tourists. Today, his NextportChina business is offering the latest social media and influencer methods to put restaurants, shops and even cities and regions on the menu of tourists – long before they board their flight to Europe.  

“We specialise in getting into the minds of the Chinese consumers. We know how to appeal to consumers, whether they intend to go on a trip to Europe or buy special interest European-brand products via e-commerce”, says Thijs van der Toom. The latter is a fast growing part of NextportChina’s service offering. Van der Toom, proud: “We know our way around China’s e-commerce and social media arenas. For numerous SMEs and multinationals, we have successfully paved the way to various parts of the huge Chinese consumer market.” 

‘Chinese tourism cake’ 

But most of all, Van der Toom and his staff of 12 excel in finding ways to make the growing numbers of tourist decide to go shopping in his clients’ outlets or to persuade them to have dinner and visit attractions that want a piece of the growing ‘Chinese tourism cake’. “Tourism from China has grown tremendously over the years. The biggest change however is the way the Chinese travel. They used to come in large groups, but the trend to individual travelling is clear. More young travellers are interested to go. Almost all of them mainly use online sources to plan their vacation to Europe. Attracting the attention of those millions is what we do best.” 

Online marketing in China 

With offices in Amsterdam and Beijing, NextportChina supports businesses in creating a presence via online marketing campaigns in China, using well-known platforms such as WeChat, Sina Weibo and RED. Van der Toom explains: “We set-up and operate accounts on these channels on behalf of our clients, but we also successfully launched our own popular Sina Weibo and WeChat Official Accounts (OAs). Via these channels we offer stories, ideas, inspiration and specific information. Three years after the introduction, our WeChat account has grown into the number one WeChat OA about travel and education in the Netherlands, with 60.000 loyal followers, 300+ original content published10 million+ views and 10.000+ personal messages answered.” 

Latest technologies 

Van der Toom and his staff like to put the latest technologies to work for their clients – already 250+ companies and brands. The most recent success is the launch of a WeChat Travel Mini Program specifically targeted to the so-called Chinese FITs (Free Independent Travellers), which are often modern, well-educated young Chinese living in China’s tier 1 and 2 cities who are looking for unique experiences. “The WeChat Mini Program offers a travel guide with 1000+ destination profiles about the Netherlands. Must-sees and must shops inside the inner cities, but also hundreds of hidden gems throughout the entire country. We managed to get important launching partners (f.e. De Bijenkorf, Royal Delft, National Park De Hoge Veluwe) on board, offering dozens of coupons, tickets and connected cross-border WeChat Mini Program shops.”  

Yuxi and Hongjia Liu Influencer campaign 

Thijs van der Toom is convinced NextportChina is offering a valuable and proven route for businesses to get into the hearts and minds (and travel itineraries) of today’s Chinese tourists. “It is all about finding the right tools to inspire them, to really influence them.” 

With that in mind, NextportChina developed a campaign with well-known Chinese social media influencer couple Yuxi and Hongjia Liu. They are among the top-10 travel influencers in China, with over one million followers, with videos scoring 12 million views. “The eight-day schedule we put together for them with our program partners lead them to nine destinations, three restaurants, two hotels and a lot of wonderful experiences. The program was a great success, as their videos scored over one million views.” 

The campaign, as Thijs van der Toom insists, is a good example of how to engage with Chinese tourists in a very up-to-date and effective fashion. “It is a relatively new audience that finds its inspiration online. The message to any small SME or big enterprise: there are numerous effective ways to get noticed by the new tourists, be it via a dedicated and targeted online marketing campaign or through new, sophisticated and innovative tools. Whatever your product is, there is a way to get the attention of Chinese consumers and travelers for it.” 

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