Airport marketing: how to attract Asian travelers via Social Media

06 Mar 2014



Over the last few years, airports have held many events hoping to engage passing travelers and entice them to spend vacation dollars within the airport. Most of the events were mildly successful but after the campaign was completed, travelers went back to reading books, watching TV or surfing the internet on their mobile phones.

Airport marketers scratched their heads and then started planning the next event. Now, airports around the world are waking up to the value of social media marketing, no longer do they have to host elaborate events only to wave good-bye to engaged passengers.

The creative use of social media marketing now allows marketer to use offline promotions to push online engagement. Let’s see how.


The “Connected Chinese travelers”

All across Asia, airports are signing up for social media but with a twist; many airports have been diligently watching the rise of the “Connected Chinese Travelers” – Chinese tourists who use laptops, smartphones and tablets to stay online and informed even while traveling, and have begun using Chinese social media platforms in an effort to engage this audience.

Given that Chinese travelers logged over 80 million international trips and spent over $100 billion dollars in 2012 – as reported by – catering to this relatively new audience makes a great deal of business sense.  As a result of the emergence of this group, airports are buying into Chinese social media.


Airports on Sina Weibo, Facebook and Twitter

The most successful effort to date is Changi’s social media marketing campaigns. Changi Airport currently has over 298,000 fans on Facebook, over 12,000 Twitter followers, and over 113,000 fans on Sina Weibo.


Sina Weibo Changi Airport


The airport created a campaign called “Be a Changi Millionaire,” which allowed travelers to experience what it would be like to win a million dollars. 

The campaign included many activities designed to engage travelers and it also pushed for online participation. One of the most memorable parts of the campaign was a flash mob-style mass performance, right in the heart of Changi Airport. It attracted over 400 performers, professional and amateurs and went viral attracting over 400,000 views:



Changi Airport is not the only airport participating in and benefiting from social media marketing. Denmark’s Copenhagen Airport has recently released a wayfinding tool that displays 360-degree views of every part of the airport and it’s grounds and will visually show passengers how to reach inputted destinations from anywhere on the airport’s grounds.



Using WiFi hotspots, airport guests can use the CPH airport app to find their location and then use the wayfinding tool to discover the best way to reach customs, or their baggage claim or any other area around the airport.  The tool, which is available in desktop and mobile version, will be very helpful for those new to the airport, or those who are looking to understand how far two parts of the airport are from each other.

For example, using the tool, one could easily research the proximity of international flight gates from mass transit and therefore decide to use (or not use) public transports when traveling.  The tool launched in English and Danish and has been adapted for Swedish and Chinese speaking guests:


Copenhagen Ariport Chinese


Melbourne International Airport uses its Twitter accounts in a number of ways. To help encourage travelers to use Melbourne Airport; the airport’s marketing staff posts travel specials and flight deals on its @MelbFlightDeals account:


Melbourne Airport Twitter


The airport’s @Melair account provides followers with “flight updates, airline contacts, and airport information.” @Melair also helps travelers do research and plan trips by posting information about parking, construction projects and flight routes.


Twitter Melbourne Airport



Airports around the world are continuously seeing more and more Chinese travelers pass through their gates but many airport marketers are unsure how to capture these travelers attention and effectively market airport offerings.

Only a few airports, including Changi and Copenhagen, are starting to localize content and engage “Connected Chinese travelers”. Airports have an amazing opportunity in front of them.

Airports that become “China Friendly” can expect to see an increase in traffic from mainland China and, in turn, to see increased revenue from these connected Chinese travelers.

Mathew McDougall


Cover image: photo courtesy of The South Asia Weekly.

Mathew McDougall

Although a native of Australia, Dr. Mathew McDougall has been involved in the Chinese Internet and media industries for nearly 11 years. Dr. McDougall is currently the CEO and founder of Digital Jungle, a leading Chinese social media marketing agency.


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