When the Chinese travel abroad, what do they want? Traditionally, they’ve been more focused on luxury products than luxury hotels. But as more Chinese develop a taste for high thread counts, that trend is changing—quickly. One important sign of this change: Ritz-Carlton has just launched on the Twitter-like Chinese-language social media site Sina Weibo, joining other luxury hoteliers like Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons (as well as luxury brands like Mercedes Benz and Burberry).
It’s good timing. Earlier this year, a report from the think tank L2 said Hong Kong-based Shangri-La was the only hotel company with a high digital IQ in the Chinese market. And the Ritz-Carlton’s plans here—to grow from eight hotels to 16 in the next three years—almost demand striking up a conversation with Sina Weibo’s 500 million+ users.
Of course, hotels have plenty of travel-industry company in the Weibosphere. Some 90% of the world’s country tourism boards have accounts on Sina Weibo. And even airports are getting into the game; in April, New Zealand’s Auckland Airport announced a partnership with the site to get the Chinese to think Kiwi.