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Top 10 Popular Apps in China to Attract Chinese Tourists in 2024

Chinese social network,Chinese tourism
Top 10 Popular Apps in China to Attract Chinese Tourists in 2024

To capture the attention of Chinese tourists and get them interested in foreign businesses, it is absolutely necessary to operate from within, using the most popular apps in China for Chinese tourists. This involves a great deal of knowledge about the specific characteristics of this market.

Chinese tourists are mainly characterized by their high level of digitalization, since, as Turespaña reports in 2019 tell us, 99% of Chinese users access the internet from mobile devices. In addition, the internet is the main source when it comes to organizing a trip. 

99% of Chinese users access the internet via mobile devices, with the internet being the main source when organizing a trip.

Therefore, it is essential to understand and adapt your business to the Chinese outbound tourism market through the most popular Chinese apps and most popular websites in China, as this knowledge can represent a turning point for your business’ income, as well as a substantial advantage over your competitors.

Table of Contents

1. Chinese social networks

In order to reach the Chinese outbound tourism market, today it is essential to build a unique and effective online presence. Chinese social networks are the main tools to do so, so these popular apps in China have become a key concept in marketing strategies.

These Chinese platforms have a great influence on the purchasing process of Chinese tourists. In addition, according to data from Turespaña, 74% of Chinese tourists choose their destination based on recommendations from friends or comments on networks, compared to only 30% worldwide.

Chinese social networks - Popular Apps in China

For these reasons and many others that we will cover in the article, it is essential to know how to position your business successfully in the most popular Chinese apps and social networks.

74% of Chinese tourists choose their destination based on recommendations from friends or comments on networks, compared to only 30% worldwide.

WeChat

The leading Chinese social network is WeChat, with over 1.288 billion monthly users according to Turespaña’s 2019 report. But it is not just a social network. What started as a messaging platform has become a tool where users can:

  • Share photos and videos.
  • Follow official accounts of brands and entities.
  • Watch live broadcasts.
  • Watch short videos.
  • Make mobile payments.

The list could be endless, so understanding the functionalities and importance of WeChat is essential if one of your goals is to attract Chinese tourists to your business. This social network is ideal for informing and engaging your target audience.

As such, it is not an ideal social network for small businesses, but is more suited to larger companies such as hotel chains or popular tourist attractions. WeChat has quite a few built-in features, including WeChat Channels and WeChat Moments.

WeChat is the leading social network in China, which has nearly 1.3 billion monthly users.

WeChat Channels

WeChat Channels is a video section, similar in style to TikTok, which promotes short videos. It was launched in 2020, and its main use is short video posting, which allows users to watch, create and share all kinds of videos

WeChat Channels-Popular Apps in China

WeChat Moments

WeChat Moments is the feature that allows users to share experiences with their contacts through videos and images. It was launched in 2012, and is notable for its ability to create an intimate circle of communication within the users’ choice of close friends.

Weibo

What is Weibo? It is an open social network with 582 million monthly active users, according to Wikipedia. This social network, unlike WeChat, enables a greater viralization of content and gathers a larger number of followers.

Weibo was created in 2010, and started as a microblog similar to Twitter, and now it is used for publishing content, live streaming, marketing products, conducting polls, sharing short videos, etc., among other main functionalities.

According to data from La Tercera, in 2017 56.3% of Weibo users were men, the rest being women, and 77% of the total consisted of people under 30 years of age, which marks the relevance of the Z generation for the operation of the most popular Chinese apps.

weibo-Popular Apps in China

77% of Weibo users were people under 30 years old, highlighting the importance of generation Z for Chinese apps.

Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu)

Little Red Book, also known as Xiaohongshu, has evolved to become the most used platform by Chinese tourists when looking for references, reviews and information to select a product or service, such as destinations, restaurants, hotels and many other leisure experiences.

According to Stairs, 64% of Chinese tourists mainly use Little Red Book when deciding on hotels and restaurants, and it now has more than 200 million users

Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu)-Popular Apps in China

For business owners outside China, having a presence on Little Red Book is a very efficient way to reach new Chinese clientele, which is the most important in the Chinese tourism market, as well as a great competitive advantage.

In addition, Little Red Book marketing is the most efficient and compatible way to collaborate with Chinese influencers, especially when trying to promote hospitality businesses in China.

64% of Chinese tourists use Little Red Book when choosing hotels and restaurants

Why promote my business on Little Red Book?

There are many reasons to develop a marketing strategy for Little Red Book:

  • Increased visibility: having a presence on this platform increases the chances of being recognized by Chinese customers looking for a hotel or restaurant in your area.
  • Competitive advantage: in the era of digitalization, it is essential to have a strong online presence for any business.
  • Increased reviews: by being on Little Red Book, you will get more customer reviews.
  • Increased exposure to Chinese clientele.

Douyin (TikTok)

What is Douyin? It is a social network launched in 2016 that allows you to create and share short videos and live stream. Outside China it is known as TikTok, but Douyin is a distinct and unique version within the Chinese territory.

Douyin is an exceptional opportunity for companies to reach the Chinese outbound tourism market. As it has not been around for long, brands still have time to get ahead of the competition on this popular Chinese app.

Douyin (TikTok)-Popular Apps in China

This social network is the most targeted to Generation Z, since, according to Datawords Group, more than 70% of users were under 24 years old in 2020, and 90% under 35 years old. In addition, Douyin’s audience is quite open to commercial content, with 70% of users accepting it.

Therefore, collaborating with an influencers agency in China is crucial to promote your business on Douyin and win Chinese Generation Z customers.

Douyin's audience is open to commercial content, so collaboration with influencer agencies like InfluChina is crucial to promoting your business on Douyin

2. Travel research and planning

Chinese tourists mainly use their search engine and OTAs for travel planning. According to Fastdata reports, Chinese OTAs achieved a 67.1% market share in 2020, hence their importance. 

Official destination websites are one of the most used channels by Chinese tourists when looking for information, making up 79% of searches through the main Chinese OTAs according to Turespaña data.

79% of Chinese tourists use Chinese OTAs as their main channel to search for travel information.

Baidu

Baidu, which is known as the Chinese Google, is the main search engine in China. It was founded in 2000 and its name comes from a Chinese poem in which a man was looking for the love of his life. 

Baidu is used to search for websites, audio files and images, and has built-in e-mail, a translator and a web map service

According to Arimetrics data, it is the most visited website in China and the fourth most visited in the world, which makes it a key factor for companies wishing to promote their business in the Chinese market.

It is essential that the ranking work, through SEO campaigns, is carried out on the basis that the most widely used search engine among Chinese Internet users is Baidu, which has a market share of almost 80%.

Baidu-Popular Apps in China

Ctrip

Among the main Chinese OTAs, Ctrip has consolidated its position as the preferred platform in the Chinese outbound tourism market, with more than a third of sales (36.3%), according to data from Turespaña. 

Ctrip-Popular Apps in China

What is Ctrip? That is an OTA that provides booking services for accommodation, transportation, tours and corporate travel management. It was founded in 1999 by Trip.com Group Limited, along with other brands such as Qunar, which will be discussed later. Ctrip’s main functions are:

  • Travel and destination queries and reservations: the travel marketplace is Ctrip’s core business, with booking options for hotel, flight, travel guides…
  • Customization and itinerary planning: ability to add air or train tickets and hotel reservations to your personalized trip.
  • Publishing travel-related content: option to follow, consume and publish travel content.
  • Customer service: Ctrip has a dedicated customer service section, providing 24/7 support.

Ctrip has established itself in the Chinese travel market as the OTA of choice, accounting for 36.3% of total Chinese OTA sales.

Fliggy

What is Fliggy? It is an online travel services platform belonging to Alibaba Group, which brings together more than 400 airlines and travel agents, 8,000 destinations and 600,000 hotels and accommodations, as well as hundreds of thousands of entertainment activities, according to Hosteltur data. 

Fliggy stands out for its great discounts in the hotel booking service, and is also one of the most downloaded Chinese applications in China, according to Chinafy data. It also has a market share of 13.9%, and is already preparing partnerships with global brands to define its niche in hotel booking.

Qunar

Qunar is a Chinese OTA based in Beijing, which means “Where to go” in Chinese. It was founded in May 2005, and is dedicated to organizing a wealth of information and providing comprehensive and instant search results for flights, hotels, visas and other travel-related information.

Qunar ranks second only to Ctrip as the second largest OTA in the Chinese market, with a 16.5% share of the online travel market, according to Hotelmize data.

Qunar is the second largest OTA in the Chinese market, with a 16.5% share of the online travel market

3. Payment methods

Cash payment has started to be phased out in many countries, and China is one of them, where practically nobody pays in cash or with a card in their daily life. 

Chinese citizens pay for everything with their cell phones, so equipping your establishment with this payment system is a great advantage that Chinese tourists take into account, since not having it can mean losing Chinese customers.

WeChat Pay

WeChat Pay, officially known as Weixin Pay in China, is a WeChat mobile payment and digital wallet service that allows users to make mobile payments and online transactions. According to data from Wikipedia, WeChat Pay reached 900 million users in 2021.

90% of small business owners use WeChat for their operations and 70% of self-employed people use it for transactions, according to TechNode data, underscoring the importance for Chinese tourists of these apps for their day-to-day lives.

90% of small business owners use WeChat for their operations and 70% of self-employed employees use it for transactions

Alipay

What is Alipay? It was launched in 2004 by Alibaba, is one of the leading Chinese mobile payment applications that has gained immense popularity worldwide, especially in China. Alipay has established itself as the preferred method of payment for Chinese tourists, used by 95% of users, according to data from Turespaña.

Alipay offers a wide variety of functionalities, such as online payments, mobile payments, invoices, money transfers, and even investment and wealth management options. Its user-friendly interface and seamless merchant integration make it the best choice for Chinese users.

Alipay-Popular Apps in China

4. Conclusions on Chinese apps

As we have seen, Chinese applications are of vital importance, both for the Chinese tourism market and for any foreign entrepreneurs who intend to do business in China

Knowledge of the characteristics of the Chinese outbound tourism market is essential to increase revenue exponentially and to obtain competitive advantages over your rivals

To this end, collaborating with an agency can be decisive and very helpful. InfluChina offers a solution, a social media agency in China that is dedicated to promoting businesses with a tourist influx in Chinese social networks through influencers.

Knowledge of the specifics of the Chinese tourism market is essential to increase revenues exponentially and to stay ahead of the competition

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the most popular Chinese apps

WeChat is the leading Chinese social network, with more than 1.288 billion monthly users.

It is essential to have a presence on the main Chinese applications such as WeChat, RED, Ctrip and Alipay to promote your business among Chinese tourists.

Ctrip has become the most used Chinese OTA by Chinese tourists, with more than a third (36.3%) of the total sales by Chinese OTAs.

Baidu is the main search engine in China, known as the Chinese Google. It is used to search for websites, audio files and images, it has email, a translator and a map service.

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