Auckland launches world’s first instant live chat
The Chinese speaking community based in Auckland are being invited to become ambassadors on Auckland’s new WeChat city experience guide, which will see them sharing their local knowledge on one of the world’s largest mobile apps.
WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by tech giant Tencent and has more than one billion active users each month.
Given the scale of WeChat, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has been looking at different ways over the past two years to leverage its mass reach to target Chinese visitors.
Working with Auckland’s tourism operators and accommodation providers, ATEED has developed an Auckland city experience guide, through WeChat’s ‘mini programme’, providing general visitor information to Chinese tourists.
ATEED General Manager, Destination Steve Armitage says while there are other destinations with city experience guides on WeChat, Auckland is the first destination within the network to use locals as advocates to relay visitor information in a real time, live chat environment.
“China is New Zealand’s second largest visitor market, and for Auckland, Chinese visitors are the highest spenders in the visitor economy, contributing more than $960 million in tourism spend annually. Auckland is also home to more than 113,000 people who identify as Chinese,” he says.
“With Auckland’s new WeChat mini programme we are providing a platform for Auckland’s Chinese community to share their local knowledge, favourite experiences and love for their city with other local Chinese, and their friends and family in China.”
As well as the live chat function, ATEED has also developed a platform for user generated Auckland content to be featured on the city guide featuring real images from locals and visitors of their experiences around the region.
Steve Armitage says: “We’ve seen how popular platforms like TripAdvisor and Facebook are with people seeking out word-of-mouth recommendations on experiences, food, and places to visit, but they do not have the functionality for real time chat.
“With our Auckland WeChat platform people will be able to ask a question and get an immediate response from a local or see images of real people enjoying different experiences in Auckland, as opposed to marketing campaign material. This approach enhances their propensity for staying longer, wanting to try and do more when they are here.
“A key focus falling out of the Destination AKL 2025 strategy is the need for Auckland to be more data led in our marketing efforts and this WeChat solution provides a cost-effective way of marketing to a mass market but by harnessing the power of a local influencer base.”
The first phase of establishing the app is signing up the local Chinese community as advocates, and more than 300 people signed up during the Auckland Lantern Festival at the weekend. Once a local pool of advocates is established and up and running, the app will be launched to the mass Chinese market.
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