Major global museums are already scoring a significant number of Chinese visitors. Institutions without a strategy for the market are missing out.
As the Chinese tourism market matures, travelers are expanding beyond first-time interests such as major attractions and shopping to seek out deeper, more cultural experiences. Museums, in particular, stand to benefit.
Chinese visitors already make up a major proportion of museums’ attendees. One out of every three Chinese visitors to New York City visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Chinese visitors are the second-most common foreign nationality to visit the Louvre Museum in Paris. Naturally, these evolving Chinese tourists are also an integral part of museums’ attendee growth.
As the number of Chinese travelers going abroad grows, museums and cultural centers are looking closely at how they can best appeal to these specific visitors via promotions, social media, and language-specific resources.
To the Source
All of the major museums that Jing Travel spoke with agreed that working with travel companies within China was one of their first and most efficient steps in promoting the museum, providing information, and easing ticketing as part of their outreach strategy.
“Our goal is to make the Chinese visitors feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. We approach the market through the tour and travel industry, and strive to form relationships of friendship, trust, and sincerity with travel agents, tour operators, and airlines who send visitors from China to NYC,” explains Beth Wildstein, Associate Director of Tourism and Group Sales at the American Museum of Natural History.
“Museum staff have traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to give presentations and meet with tour influencers. AMNH has hosted several familiarization tours for tour operators and airlines that bring visitors to NYC.”
Outside of formal trade relations, however, museums are also using social media and their online presence to make information as accessible as possible directly for the individual traveler.
For example, the Louvre has been on Weibo since 2015 with close to 100,000 followers on the micro-blogging platform.
MoMA has just 20,000 Weibo followers in comparison, but has found the platform effective and successful as endearing engagement.
“Videos showing behind-the-scenes content and in-depth posts featuring our collection tend to perform well. We regularly post interactive content and create special campaigns to celebrate Golden Week and Chinese New Year,” explains Carly McCloskey, the Assistant Director for Tourism Sales and Marketing at the MoMA explained to digital marketing agency Dragon Tail Interactive earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Met has steadily grown its social presence via WeChat. As Jing Travel has discussed previously, WeChat is arguably the default platform for marketing to Chinese consumers.
On the Ground
As critical as communicating with potential visitors during their planning process, it is also paramount to provide a website and maps, audio guides, and directional signage on the grounds in Chinese. There are even floor plans in Chinese to ease the visitor’s experience.
Major partnerships have also played a role in expanding appeal and access to the globally recognized institutions. In 2015, UnionPay announced a special promotion with which cardholders would gain free access to the Met, Louvre, and British Museum.
AMNH later followed suit with a partnership that helps expand the museum’s outreach throughout the Pacific Rim, explains Wildstein, however a partnership with the city’s marketing arm NYC & Company has also proved effective.
Museums can step beyond these prescriptive measures of ensuring that every Chinese tourist feels welcome to explore the wonders held within their walls by creating unique events that engage Chinese visitors with an even more personalized and unforgettable experience.
This story originally appeared on Jing Travel, a Skift content partner.
Additional links from Jing Travel:
Free Daily Newsletter
Sign up for the most popular Skift daily download of news, happening, and headlines in the travel world
Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is pictured in this photo from 2015. Museums are exploring the best way to appeal to Chinese tourists. Steven Pisano / Flickr