As the line between online travel booking and shopping blurs in China, brands are partnering with travel platforms to advertise to users while they plan their trips.
Some brands even encourage shoppers to place orders for items ahead of time. Top Chinese travel booking platform Ctrip has emerged as a travel marketing vehicle for brands. Brands working with Ctrip include Bulgari, Tom Ford, Shiseido, Estée Lauder and MAC Cosmetics, which have all promoted international or duty-free shopping in partnership with the platform according to Gartner L2’s report on the topic. Louis Vuitton advertised its VVV exhibition through Ctrip, and the platform organized a special visit to the exhibition for its VIP customers.
Alibaba’s competing travel platform Fliggy opened an online travel shopping portal in March 2019, which allows users to buy and reserve items online and pick them up in stores while traveling. In addition to multibrand duty-free stores, individual brand stores like Furla in Hong Kong are also participating with official Fliggy flagships on the platform. Fliggy has also forged links to other Alibaba platforms: brands’ Alipay deals listings are advertised on Fliggy. For example, Tommy Hilfiger offered a 40 RMB discount for Alipay users at U.S. outlets. VANS teamed up with the travel platform and Tmall for an October 2018 user-generated content (UGC) campaign, giving users who posted travel photos wearing VANS products in the brand’s Tmall store a chance to win a free Iceland tour from Fliggy.