New social media microsite indicative of SMTT’s increasing strategic efforts to attract Chinese travelers

 SANTA MONICA, Calif. February 1, 2017 – Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) announced the launch of a Santa Monica-specific WeChat microsite, leveraging China’s most important digital communication platform to raise awareness of Santa Monica as a premiere destination for Chinese travelers. The microsite, one of the very first to be launched by a U.S. destination, incorporates advanced functions such as content sharing and hotel booking capabilities to encourage Chinese trade, media and consumers to interact with Chinese-language Santa Monica content. This microsite creates an important opportunity for SMTT to leverage WeChat’s astonishing reach – over 806 million users that are active on the app for an average of 70-minutes a day.

SMTT first ventured into WeChat in Spring 2016, with the launch of an official Chinese language account under the strategic direction of The Gold Linq, a Los Angeles-based Chinese consultancy and digital media agency. The new microsite offers a much more interactive and curated experience for its users, including recommendations on best spots for tea and top locations for Route 66 photos. SMTT has also incorporated content sharing and posting functions within the ‘hotels’ section of the microsite, designed to increase engagement and traffic to partner hotel booking links.

The hosting of content and information on WeChat has proven to be a creative solution to Chinese digital firewall blocking, which oftentimes leads to United States destination content becoming very limited within China. “Any destination hoping to find success within the Chinese market must address the challenges associated with the language barrier, lack of familiarity, and its demand for high-quality content that can be consumed via WeChat,” explained Nancy Hsieh, partner at The Gold Linq. “The launch of Santa Monica’s WeChat microsite positions SMTT at the forefront of U.S. destination marketing in China.”

The launch of the microsite, slated to correspond with the Chinese New Year, serves as a continuation of SMTT’s marketing strategy for China. In addition to Chinese tour operator outreach, in-market travel agency and Santa Monica ambassador training, and continuing consumer promotions and engagement, SMTT representatives also traveled to China twice in 2016 in partnership with Visit California to promote Santa Monica directly to Chinese tour operators and media. Plans for 2017 include additional in-market trips to continue strengthening these relationships.

“Santa Monica is eager to welcome more Chinese visitors,” said Misti Kerns, SMTT president/CEO. “We look forward to leveraging WeChat to spread the word about our sparkling beaches, luxurious shopping options, beautiful weather and diverse hotel options to China’s large base of sophisticated travelers.”

SMTT’s increased proactive efforts within the Chinese market comes at the heels of recently-released data showing strong visitation numbers into Los Angeles and California from the Chinese market. In 2016, Los Angeles became the first city within the United States to welcome more than 1 million travelers from China, bumping the Chinese market to California’s #1 overseas and fastest growing market.

About Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For travel and accommodation information or a free copy of the official Visitors Guide, the public can write to the Santa Monica Visitor Center, 2427 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405; call (800) 544-5319 or (310) 393-7593; visit www.santamonica.com; or email info@santamonica.com. Follow SMTT on Twitter @GoSantaMonica or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/visitsantamonica.

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Contact: Jackie Alvarez
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism
310-319-6263
Jalvarez@santamonica.com