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Marketing to Chinese Consumers

Dragon Trail Wins 2010 CTW Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award in the Product Innovation Category

eTN Staff Writer  May 21, 2010

BEIJING, China – For the seventh time, the “CTW Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award” winners, determined by an international jury of experts from inside and outside China, were presented with the awards during the COTTM China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market on April 29, 2010 in Beijing, for providing excellent services and products for the growing Chinese Outbound Tourism market. According to the China Tourism Academy, in 2010, 54 million Chinese are forecasted to travel across the border, more than ever before. Besides Dragon Trail, winners also included (Tripadvisor China), and National Tourism Organizations from the Czech Republic, Philippines, and Peru this year.

Dragon Trail was founded in 2009 by Jens Thraenhart and George Cao, two Cornell University Master in Hospitality Management graduates with extensive experience in travel technology, e-tourism strategy, and digital marketing in China and globally. Dragon Trail specializes in helping travel and tourism organizations such as hotel brands, cruise lines, and tourist boards to market to Chinese consumers by leveraging Internet technologies, digital marketing, and social media to increase brand awareness and encourage brand engagement.

According to Professor Wolfgang Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, organizer of the CTW Award, “What impressed the international jury was the fact that Dragon Trail’s approach creates tremendous efficiencies for companies looking to enter the Chinese market. By helping clients understand the local consumer, the local travel trade, and the Chinese online landscape, Dragon Trail builds a powerful solution that makes it possible for clients to adapt to the changing market.”

Founded less than a year ago, Dragon Trail already serves international clients from luxury hotel brands to tourist boards in Asia, North America, and Europe. The innovative approach is different from traditional digital web marketing agencies or China marketing representation companies as it builds a custom execution, based on establishing a solid online infrastructure, and on Dragon Trail’s proprietary Ring Strategy, as well as proprietary travel technology applications from trip planning, meta search, e-learning, online community, and social media applications.

According to Jens Thraenhart, co-founder and chief strategist of Dragon Trail, an award-winning e-marketer for the Canadian Tourism Commission and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts: “While outbound travel fulfillment in China is still predominantly done offline via traditional tour operators and travel agents, the Internet is the catalyst of influencing consumers to then go to the tour operator to ask for the destination or hotel brand. Increasingly, consumer research, brand recognition, and travel purchasing are shaped by the Internet, and Chinese consumers are often more educated about brands than consumers in the west. Due to the complexity of the Chinese market, it is important not to start with a static website that is translated from English into Chinese or a digital campaign only on the big online portals, but to focus on developing a relevant and engaging web presence in China.”

The Chinese online landscape, now with over 400 million users, is vastly different from that in the “west.” Fueled for growth as domestic Internet penetration is still less than 30 percent (Source: CNNIC), China has already become one of the most engaged countries online with 92 percent of online users contributing to blogs and social networks, George Cao, co-founder and chief technologist of Dragon Trail, a long-time travel technology veteran in the US and China, added: “With 85 percent of Chinese people approving the Internet censorship of sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, it creates a completely different online playing field with new rules and new ways of engagement. Traditional public relations tactics are not enough anymore to spread the word, and the ability to leverage technology will be a critical success factor for brands looking to enter the market, especially in connecting consumers with the trade.”

Professor Geoffrey Lipman, chief advisor for Dragon Trail and director of commented: “China is becoming a global travel leader: just as the full potential of the Internet is emerging for travel research, planning, branding, and sales. The vibrant Chinese e-tourism market will play an increasingly important role for travelers, businesses, and for policymakers inside and outside China. Particularly as we move to a smarter, cleaner, and greener kind of tourism. This award captures the spirit of Dragon Trail’s vision in this space.”


Dragon Trail, a UNWTO affiliate member and PATA member, is the premier brand engagement firm to help travel and tourism organizations to connect to Chinese consumers by leveraging Chinese online and social media. Dragon Trail helps develop and seed relevant content, execute results-driven digital marketing campaigns, and provide innovative technology solutions. Dragon Trail also develops and licenses proprietary travel technology solutions, such as trip planning, meta search, social media applications, online communities, and e-Learning systems, in order for travel companies to fully leverage technology as an enabler to engage with consumers and travel trade.

Dragon Trail publishes (Twitter: @CnTravelTrends ), the one-stop English language resource website and professional community ( ) focused on China outbound tourism, social media, and digital marketing in China, giving international travel and tourism organizations insights about the complexity of the China travel market and its online landscape.

In April 2010, Dragon Trail was awarded the Gold Award in the Product Innovations category of the prestigious “Chinese Tourist Welcoming Award,” recognizing Dragon Trail’s unique approach to marketing to Chinese consumers. For more information, please visit .


Started in 2004, the COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute has given awards to international tourism companies and organizations, which provide excellent services and products for the growing the Chinese Outbound Tourism market. The China Tourists Welcoming (CTW) Award is presented in five categories: Product development, Marketing, Internet/New Media, Service Quality, and Overall Performance, with Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards given away by an international jury. For more information, please visit .

Dragon Trail Wins 2010 CTW Chinese Tourists Welcoming Award in the Product Innovation Category
Jens Thraenhart accepting the Gold CTW Award from Professor Wolfgang Arlt /Photo from

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