In China, tourism is a dominant contributor to its domestic economy, with the number of domestic tourist arrivals crossing the 3.25 billion mark in 2021. It was a whopping 6 billion in 2019 before the Covid pandemic. In terms of revenue, it was about 2.92 trillion yuan in 2021. China was the top tourism expenditure in 2021.
From the conventional way of managing travel to establishing the online travel industry, China has come a long way in the last two decades. Currently, many online travel agencies in China provide all types of travel-related services through the web or app.
Mafengwo is one such travel platform that provides multiple travel utility services. It helps its users develop self-guided travel plans with trustworthy information. They can share their travel-related information like tips, journeys, itineraries, recommendations, and feedback with other users that includes all the aspects of their journey – before, during, and after. Mafengwo is a fun and engaging social media platform, especially for the tourism industry.
Founded in 2010 by Chen Gang and Lü Gang, Mafengwo saw exponential growth reaching 100 million monthly active users within ten years because of its quality content and user-friendly features.
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What is Mafengwo?
Mafengwo (马蜂窝) is a leading travel and entertainment social community in the Chinese travel industry. Highly popular among the young generation, MaFengWo is rightly considered the ‘travel bible’ by Chinese netizens because of its simple, efficient, and convenient travel platform.
It helps its users by understanding their travel preferences and then making complex travel decisions easier for them by providing useful information and options for choosing destinations, reservations, attractions, restaurants, shopping, and local transportation, in more than 60,000 tourist destinations globally.
The best part is that most of the tourist information on this platform is user-generated, and when combined with AI, it provides unique information to the users per their requirements. Marketing through Mafengwo works on this unique business model where content + business + big data algorithms help match the supply and demand efficiently, resulting in travel product suppliers getting more accurate orders and thus increased conversions and profits for the businesses.
Currently, with more than 120 million active users and 5 million ratings and reviews, and 1 million user-generated information, it has evolved into the one-stop solution for all the travel needs of its users like planning, booking, and shopping.
In 2019, Mafengwo secured funding of $250 million with leading investor Tencent Holdings and other co-investors like General Atlantic, Qiming Venture Partners, Yuantai Evergreen Investment Partners, NM Strategic Focus Fund, and eGarden Ventures. In total, they have raised $488 million so far.
An excellent marketing strategy by Mafengwo is that it branded itself as a travel e-commerce platform while keeping all the elements of social features since its inception. And in 2016, it further established itself as the Online Travel Agency (OTA). With a big user base and multiple features, it has become the first choice for companies to reach out to young travelers from China.
The core reasons behind Mafengwo’s success
Although multiple factors played a significant role in the success of Mafengwo in China, the most important ones are these:
Content created and curated by users:
Most of the content on the Mafengwo platform is user-generated. People perceive users’ personal experiences as genuine, reliable, and authentic. For a user looking for diverse, personalized, and specific information, it is natural to trust such information sources provided by fellow users.
This content-specific strategy has taken Mafengwo a long way as it attracts new users and keeps the platform competitive. To keep the momentum high, Mafengwo rewards the deserving content creators who add quality content to its platform.
Accurately targeting the right audience:
Mafengwo’s success can be rightly attributed to targeting the right audience in young age bracket because of the rise of the internet and the increase in the affluent middle-class population.
Mafengwo tapped the travel market with its complete focus on the millennials and other young independent travelers through big data and AI-enabled precise targeting.
According to a study, China surpasses all other countries with the highest international tourism expenditure in 2021, with China’s outbound tourism crossing nearly $106 billion. About half of these travelers were independent travelers.
Mafengwo’s growth can be easily credited to correctly targeting this young independent user group by deeply understanding their needs and then providing them with a social interaction platform with a full-fledged range of interactive features. Users felt more connected to each other than ever by interacting with like-minded people.
Apart from this, Mafengwo introduced celebrities sharing their personal travel experiences on this platform, luring a young group of users in the age bracket of 18-26. This influencer approach kept attracting new users with fresh content for their platform related to their travel experiences. Also, to engage more with its users, Mafengwo has developed new features like games, lucky draws, and contests that proved to be highly successful.
What makes Mafengwo unique?
The big data accumulated over the years consisting of user-generated travel content along with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to search and analyze histories, preferences, destinations, travel methods, consumption habits, and favorites of individual users is the key algorithm used by Mafengwo to suggest the perfect stay, attraction, restaurants, and any other specific information to its users. This method has time and again proved to be quite accurate for Mafengwo’s users, making it unique from other travel platforms.
Mafengwo is a travel e-commerce platform, and the purchase information by users helps in data building that Mafengwo uses to target further users with exact likings and preferences. This method has helped Mafengwo earn a good amount of revenue by selling products to its targeted customers.
In a nutshell, we can say that Mafengwo’s unique selling proposition (USP) integrates user-generated content with e-commerce, accurately targets the right customer, and provides them with all the information and resources necessary to plan and execute their trips on one single platform.
Highlights of Mafengwo’s features
Mafengwo serves as an ‘all-in-one’ platform for a traveler’s needs ranging from before, during, and after the trip. Mafengwo has added many features, making it a one-stop solution for travelers. Chinese travelers share their travel experiences, photos, and journals and can ask and answer questions of other users on Mafengwo. It’s a very interactive online community.
Some important features are given below:
User-generated travel content:
It provides authentic information that its users generate, making it highly reliable and helpful for the audience, like travel articles, itineraries, activities, and customized information based on interest, tips, and photos. These contents are generally extended with detailed information about the place, journey, experiences, etc., providing excellent value to its readers.
Mafengwo’s vast user base engages in helpful social communications like forums, QnA sessions, and travel tips. Users can make groups through the club system and interact with like-minded people. Mafengwo also organizes offline social events throughout the country for people to enjoy and interact with each other.
The Mafengwo Mall:
When you need to do travel-related shopping, Mafengwo being a powerful e-commerce platform, provides you with all the necessary products and services you can think of, like hotel and transportation reservations, visas, wifi services, sim cards, and physical travel-related items. They even have their brand products related to travel like clothing, luggage tags, and storage bags.
Can I use Mafengwo outside of China?
Mafengwo has no restrictions to use globally, but most of its users are from China. Mafengwo users from China are 72.95%, and the rest are from other countries like the USA, Germany, Canada, the UK, and others. It covers more than 60,000 tourist destinations globally.
How does Mafengwo work as an OTA?
In 2016, Mafengwo became an Online Travel Agency (OTA) after accumulating a significant user base of young independent travelers and years of travel business experience. It developed a new e-commerce model for tourism along with social interaction platform.
As an OTA, it provided many services and products that are summarized below:
Travelers can use multiple transportation services provided on Mafengwo that includes Flight, train, bus tickets, Cruise bookings, Charter and pick-up, and Car rentals.
Mafengwo provides hotel booking options according to historical, modern, and fairytale-like themes so that customers can choose according to the nature of their travel.
Mafengwo provides a list of restaurants suggested by the users in categories like street food, fine dining, vegan, and healthy. Reviews help customers to decide which one to choose.
Mafengwo provides options for various activities, attractions, and excursions suggested by its users, along with the facility to buy tickets.
For those users who want to buy a travel package, Mafengwo provides the option to choose a package according to their interests, budget, and needs.
Mafengwo provides the facility of processing visa applications for its customers, including helping in preparing documents and photos for the same. In some countries, they even deliver the visa.
Other major OTAs in China
Chinese online travel agencies are evolving at a fast pace to provide the services their users want. They are bringing new ways to lure customers from personalization to mobile-based services.
Some major OTAs in China are:
It is China’s leading international one-stop travel platform providing a complete set of travel products, services, and content. Users can make any travel booking through Ctrip, including flights, hotels, tours, and corporate travel management. Using consumer data to understand the trends and demands, Ctrip provides customized solutions to its customers.
Ctrip has many innovative features and programs like a six-level travel guarantee, advance payment, global travel SOS emergency mechanism, and step refund and reform. Ctrip was founded by James Liang, Neil Shen, Min Fan, and Qi Ji in June 1999.
It is a Chinese outbound travel service provider similar to Mafengwo in many terms like community social sharing, suggestion, information, guides, forum, inquiry, and tips. Founded by Bryan Xiao in the year 2004, Qyer got funding from Alibaba in the year 2013.
The target group of Qyer is young, moderately wealthy travelers searching for high-quality travel-related content. Its users provide a significant amount of information on its platform ranging from trip planning, and photo essays, to detailed itineraries.
It is a comprehensive travel platform in China that mainly provides services to independent travelers. It was founded in 2008 by Hong Qinghua in Shanghai, and so far, its app has more than 1 billion downloads and more than 50,000 partners. It has a combination of online and offline services all over China.
It entered the market as a DIY travel service company for self-drive travel around China. It is known for providing the best discounts on tickets for tourist attractions and finding the most affordable hotel stay.
How to use Mafengwo for your business?
The main reason businesses look forward to targeting Mafengwo for promoting their brands is its huge user base that belongs to the young generation. Mafengwo is a platform we strongly recommend to any brand looking to promote its brand to Chinese tourists. China’s social media advertising through Mafengwo has gained huge popularity in last few years.
There are many ways companies can use this platform:
Mafengwo being the content-driven platform, helps users in getting vital information related to their travel through blogs, reviews, articles, forums, and photos. So, businesses should have their official account providing in-depth knowledge, analysis, instructions, and user guides about their products and services.
It’s crucial to provide CTA (call to action) option in these content pieces so that users can immediately use it in case they like it.
Helping users through this content will allow brands to establish themselves, get exposure, and grow their reputation and credibility. You can also get direct product or service feedback through Myfengwo marketing tools.
Myfengwo has a powerful KOL influence being a social media platform in terms of reach and viewership. Businesses can use them to engage users in certain marketing activities like contests and events. Brands can give a free trial of their products or services for the KOLs and, in return, get photos and reviews from them.
Brands can even associate with micro-influencers to bring more authenticity and effectiveness to their campaigns. Mafengwo stands out as a social media platform where user-generated content is the centerpiece! KOL marketing is something you can’t miss as a brand in the tourism sector.
Online Reputation Management:
Reviews and user feedbacks are critical for any brand. And in the case of tourism, it becomes a matter of make or break. Exchanging information online can be used to interact with your customers by providing them acknowledgment for their views towards your product or service.
You can thank them in case of a positive review and explain/elaborate/compensate them in case of a negative review. This approach has a major impact on your customer retention and engagement.
How to launch marketing campaigns on Mafengwo?
Businesses can do marketing campaigns on Mafengwo in two important ways:
- Collaboration with KOLs:The first method involves collaborating with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), who greatly influence the user base through fan following. They can invite them to use their products or services and then publish high-quality travel guides called ‘Master Travel Notes’ or short videos related to the same. These contents can be assigned higher search result ranking and recommended to users for downloading. It can improve your brand favorability and help in actual conversions.
- Create a brand day:The second method involves creating a brand day for your product or services. In this featured theme, Mafengwo shows your brand’s ads to all the users at a predetermined time and immediately increases brand awareness.
All about Mafengwo advertising
Apart from the previously mentioned marketing options, businesses can utilize the Mafengwo platform to advertise their brands, products, or services through traditional banner or video ads on CPT (Cost Per Thousand) or CPM (Cost Per Mille) basis. The strong trust factor of users for the authentic content helps them getting influenced by these campaigns through social media advertising in China using their most preferred travel portal – Mafengwo.
As a leading traveling platform, Mafengwo is undoubtedly one of the main social media platforms for brands in the hospitality sector to consider.
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