Manchester Airport holds the title of ‘Best UK Airport’ and welcomes over 23 million passengers every year, hundreds of thousands of which are Chinese tourists. The UK’s ‘Global Gateway for the North’ is directly connected with over 210 destinations including Beijing and Hong Kong, and increasing numbers of China’s travellers are attracted to the region by Premier League fixtures and cultural opportunities. Stores at the airport already offer Mandarin training to staff, and regularly create special sales promotions aimed at their high-spending Chinese visitors. With the number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad increasing each year, Manchester Airport wanted to be certain it was doing everything possible to attract them.
Manchester Airport already had a decent presence amongst Chinese travellers but wanted to ensure it was offering the best online experience for tourists. Like many brands, they wanted to commit time and resources to flesh out their existing presence on China’s social channels. Having inherited this account from another social-commerce company, we were tasked with developing the airport’s social media presence and improving performance across the board, including by creating beautiful, coherent brand assets.
We first assessed why Manchester Airport’s established accounts on Chinese social media had been unsuccessful. By completing competitor benchmarking, we were able to quickly understand the areas that needed improvement. We were then able to implement cost-effective measures, a strategy which was then iterated over time, learning from previous posts and campaigns to ensure our content becomes more engaging and our paid media strategy becomes more efficient. For example, our Chinese New Year 2019 campaign was 27x more engaging than our 2018 campaign and saw a 451% increase in clicks. Our Qixi 2018 campaign had an average cost per click (CPC) of £2.43, and for Golden Week 2019 we brought the CPC down to £1.20.
Our hard work paid off and under our daily management, Manchester Airport’s accounts have expanded dramatically. Their WeChat official account has seen a significant increase in followers, and the engagement rate (the percentage of followers engaging with each post) doubled. Our work on Weibo saw even more impressive results, with follower numbers increasing by over 190%, and average engagement per post increasing by 1023%. We not only added followers to each account, but these followers were also much more engaged with the content we produced.
The key to our success working with Manchester Airport has been a combination of strong localised creative work and campaign planning at key times of the year. By emphasising Manchester’s northern location, we positioned it as the gateway to the rest of the UK outside of London, attractive to many Chinese tourists interested in experiencing a different side of England. We also focussed on engaging Chinese students studying in and around Manchester, through campaigns aimed at university age customers.
We’re proud of the beautiful localised content we produced. Our Singles’ Day 2018 campaign was run on a tight budget but garnered over 4.4 million total impressions, and saw a 42% increase in follower count. For Chinese New Year 2019, we created a stunning range of WeChat articles and posters and shared images of Manchester Airport’s Chinese New Year activities. This campaign received over 15,000 total clicks, and almost tripled KPIs.
Our consistent benchmarking against competitor brands clearly shows that we have established Manchester Airport as the dominant player in the China social space. Outside of Asia, Manchester Airport is by far the most successful airport on Chinese social streams. Globally, Manchester is second in the world to Singapore Airport, and actually outperforms Singapore in engagement rate - 57.3% compared to Singapore’s 7.7%. We were really proud when Manchester won the Gold award for overall performance at the Chinese Tourist Welcome Awards in May 2019, which was based in part on the success of their presence on Chinese social media.
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