China. It’s a country that’s on most travel executives’ minds these days as they seek to target what will soon be the world’s largest consumer market. But wanting to compete in China and succeeding there are two very different goals. As an extensive list of companies would readily admit, navigating China’s unique customer habits and government regulations is a monumental task.

How can today’s travel brands survive and thrive in this fast-moving market? And what marketing strategies and digital tools will they need to succeed? In this week’s marketing roundup, we look at how a varied set of travel marketers is attempting to answer these questions. Plus, we note other top stories in the news.

What Travel Brands Need to Know About China’s Influencers
Influencer marketing is one of the travel industry’s topics du jour. More brands are partnering with these social media superstars to give their marketing campaigns added credibility and lift. But what does influencer marketing look like in China, a market that has vastly different social platforms and cultural norms than the U.S. and Europe? Here are some best practices. Read more

Airbnb Prioritizes China in New Business Push
The list of western companies that have tried and failed to succeed in China is long. The most recent high-profile pullback was Uber, which ended up selling its Chinese operations to local rival Didi. Sharing economy hotshot Airbnb is determined to not make the same mistake, with CEO Brian Chesky recently announcing the Chinese launch of its new Trips service and a local Chinese-language rebrand. Read more

Mandarin Oriental Tests New Loyalty Initiative on WeChat
Chinese messaging and commerce platform WeChat can seem like a “black box” to many western marketers. But considering the service boasts a mind-boggling 700 million monthly active users, it can be hard to ignore the opportunity. Mandarin Oriental is one chain that’s diving headfirst into the platform, thanks to a new loyalty marketing effort designed to court WeChat users. Read more

Ski Resorts Go Mobile to Drive Growth
Ski resorts are doubling down on efforts to reach younger, more affluent winter sports enthusiasts. One outcome of this goal has been an uptick in technology innovation in skiing-related smartphone apps. Here’s how operators like Vail Resorts and Copper Mountain are transforming their mobile efforts. Read more

Independent Hotels Saw Big Uptick in 2016
A new report suggests independent hotels experienced a healthy boost in occupancy rates, average daily rate and revenue per available room in 2016. The news has many independent hotel operators making big plans for the year ahead as they seek to lure more customers away from well-funded hotel chains. Read more

Talking Airport Innovation with Auckland Airport’s Chief
Auckland Airport is just one of a slew of airports around the world seeking to transform its infrastructure and operations for a new generation of travelers. A recent interview with the airport’s chief executive offers a snapshot of how the New Zealand transport hub plans to evolve, including thoughts about customer personalization and how to cater to different types of travelers. Read more

Photo Credit: Ella, a marketing manager at Chinese search engine Baidu, is also a member of the company's basketball team. Baidu Mobile