Working in Market - China
The travel distribution system in China has been evolving and become more diversified than ever before, with more than 4,800 travel agencies authorized to operate outbound travel business to overseas destinations, some of which can operate under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Scheme and some under streamline visa application for Tourism Australia’s Key Distribution Partner program. At the same time, Free Independent Travel (FIT), tailor-made and premium travel are growing at a faster rate.
Post-pandemic will see gradual recovery as people would be cautious to choose how and where they wanted to go. Apart from VFR, people travel together with family members or close friends would firstly pick up and then other travel format follows.
Commission Level: subject to individual business deal between seller and buyer
- Wholesale travel agencies cater mainly for ADS group business.
- The wholesalers also penetrate to retail operations within the same business and are recognized as both wholesalers and retailers.
Commission Level: subject to individual business deal between seller and buyer
- Many retail travel agencies have been expanding their outlets or stores within China and focus on FIT and tailor-made products.
Online bookings are becoming dominant than booking from traditional channels.
- Some online travel portals such as trip.com, Qunar.com, Tongcheng.com and Tuniu.com have been successful in the market.
- Traditional travel agencies, either wholesale or retail, are making use of third-party portals to promote their products, such as Ctrip.com, fliggy.com and Tuniu.com.
- The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is the primary platform for Tourism Australia to train and develop retail agents to sell Australia. Each State and Territory has a module on the ASP website.
- As of October 2021, there were over 10,000 qualified Aussie Specialists in mainland China.
Inbound Tour Operators
Commission Level: 15% - 30%
- Inbound Tour Operators (ITOs) are a vital link in the travel distribution chain in China and must be approved under the Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) to handle ADS group business. Tourism Australia recommends that Australian suppliers only deal with approved travel agents and ITOs for all ADS inbound business from China.
- Key ITOs servicing the market include:
- A China
- AOT Group (AOT/ATS/ETA)
- APH (Australia Premium Holiday)
- Australian Tours Management
- AU Kings Tour
- Auga Travel
- Aus Wonder
- Australia & Beyond Holidays Pty Ltd (AABH)
- Blue Travel Pty Ltd
- Dixon Travel and Tour
- Easy Going
- Equity Travel
- E-tours Australia
- Grand Aust Tour
- Grandview Travel Pty Ltd
- New Star
- Pioneer Travel
- Sunland Travel
- Swallow Holidays Australia, NAPT
- A China
Approved Destination Status (ADS) Scheme
- Chinese consumers travelling in a group under an ADS visa for Australia must book through an approved ADS travel seller. Australia was one of the first Western countries to gain Approved Destination Status in 1999. There are now 140 countries and regions approved under the scheme.
- There are currently 80 Australian Inbound Tour Operators (ITO) and more than 80 Chinese outbound travel agencies in the ADS network. These agents and operators are required to comply with the ADS Code of Business Standards and Ethics.
- Austrade manages the scheme in Australia with the support of Tourism Australia and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. For further details please visit: www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Working-with-China/ADS
Key Distribution Partner Program (KDP)
Tourism Australia launched its KDP program in late 2014. The objectives of the KDP program are:
- To select and appoint key outbound travel agencies in China who represent a benchmark of quality in the China travel industry.
- To demonstrate a model for China travel industry on how to promote Australia as a destination through sustainable business practices and quality product development targeting the FIT and premium segments in particular.
- To leverage KDPs’ strong advocacy, influence, and distribution networks to better serve TA’s China overall strategy.
- KDP agencies are given access to E-lodgement of Australian Visa by immigration of Home Affair, which makes possible for them to apply Australian Visa online for their customers, who can travel individually to Australia on multiple times within validity of their visa.
- In 2019, there were 36 travel agency partners appointed as Tourism Australia’s KDPs. These agencies are in 15 Key cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Qingdao, Shen Yang, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Changsha and Wuhan. Tourism Australia evaluates and recruits KDPs under revised criteria every two years.
- Consumer requests for tailor-made and premium tour products are providing an opportunity to upscale yield and better consumer experience in Australia.
- Wholesalers are shifting their business to the retail sector to enhance their competitiveness.
- Social media, media advocacy and word-of-mouth are becoming more powerful sources of information to assist Chinese travelers with planning and purchasing travel.
- The use of online sources by the Chinese market was well above the average across all markets. After online sources, respondents would talk to family and friends who have previously visited Australia.
- Travelers from first tier market, i.e., Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, are more experienced travelers and are more mature in their product selection, while travelers from second-tier market are catching up and becoming new source market.
- China premium travel has been growing rapidly and Tourism Australia is committed to promoting Signature Experience of Australia and its relevant products in China market.
- Signature Experiences of Australia and its 8 collectives are focus for Tourism Australia to promote Australian premium tourism in China market.
- Relevant SEOA themed trainings to train premium travel agents have been well underway, which arouse their growing interest in selling Australian premium travel products.
- Tourism Australia has been pivoting China’s second-tier market and make it become new source of Chinese traveler to visit Australia.
Planning a visit to market
Top tips for sales calls
- Liaise closely with local representatives from your State and Territory Tourism Organizations.
- Ensure you have relevant product information and business cards produced in simplified Chinese.
- Both travel agents and consumers use brochures to obtain further information about products.
- WeChat, Tik Tok and red book are popular social media APP by the number of active users in China. Live streaming through the APP is effective way to communicate with trade and consumers. Suggest set up your own WeChat account and link to Chinese travel agents for better engagement.
- Pre-arrange your appointments at least two weeks prior to your arrival by email and phone.
- Reconfirm your appointment on arrival into China and take into account traffic conditions and travel times to your destination.
- Highlight your product or service in simple English and ensure sales calls are no longer than 30 minutes. Bring a gift to exchange.
- Hiring an interpreter is helpful as taxi drivers generally do not speak English.
- A casual meeting approach is preferred, such as inviting key agents for a meal or drinks.
- The majority of agents work through ITOs and no direct rates are expected.
- The best time for sales calls is March to May and September to November.
- The key market centers to visit are Beijing, Shenyang, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen. Xiamen, Fuzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Changsha and Wuhan.
- For more general information on sales calls and planning a visit to market, please see Tourism Australia’s 'Tourism Export Toolkit'.
Key Distribution Partners
Tourism Australia is a partnership marketing organization and works closely with airlines and travel companies on cooperative marketing to drive conversion in all priority markets.
These targeted travel companies, including wholesalers, retail and online travel agencies, form Tourism Australia’s Key Distribution Partner (KDP) program with the intention to increase total booking value of visitors to Australia.
Each KDP is selected based on the fit with Tourism Australia’s market strategy, a shared target customer profile, shared funding of marketing activity, a commitment to training their frontline sales team through the Aussie Specialist Program and a commitment to selling quality Australian product and experiences.
Download a list of Key Distribution Partners that Tourism Australia is partnering with from China.
Where to find more information
Tourism Australia’s activities in China are managed from its offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. For more information, visit Tourism Australia’s corporate website at www.tourism.australia.com.
Australia State and Territory Organizations operating in China includes Destination NSW, South Australian Tourism Commission, Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism NT, Tourism Tasmania, Tourism Victoria and Tourism Western Australia.
- An overview on the travel distribution system
- A quick reference on key booking and travel periods for markets
- China Country Brief published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at: www.dfat.gov.au/geo
- For additional statistical reports refer to the ABS and TRA websites, www.abs.gov.au and www.tra.gov.au