SHANGHAI: Chinese consumers increasingly research and discuss their travel plans on social media and marketers should be aware of the attitudes and behaviours of different groups, according to a new study.

Social business intelligence company CIC and GroupM Knowledge, the think tank of GroupM, analysed 29.6m travel related posts or articles and sampled around 11,230 travellers for their report: White Paper on Travellers - The Rise of Social Travel.

This identified five types of traveller active on social media – business travellers, self-drive travellers, package tourists, luxury shopping travellers and backpackers – each of which displayed different consumption behaviours and required a unique marketing approach.

Connie Leung, Senior Vice President of Consulting Business & Marketing at CIC noted that social networking sites had been a major influence on the growth of tourism in recent years. "Collecting and analysing the data related to social media could help us better understand the market and recommend effective strategies to brand marketers," she said.

Thus, business travellers were most likely to look for budget and mid-scale hotels – Holiday Inn topped the buzz ranking – and to discuss their services and location. And when flying, meals and punctuality were important factors. "Brands should make these practical considerations part of their communications strategy and avoid making claims that they cannot deliver," said the report.

Luxury shopping travellers liked to show off their purchases on social media, with Louis Vuitton leading the buzz rankings. Overseas shopping information was gleaned from Taobao and social shopping websites, as well as the Weibo accounts of professional overseas buyers. Leveraging fashionistas' recommendations was also an option recommended by the report.

Package tourists were found to be willing to share information on travel agencies and their honeymoon experiences. In addition, the movie "Lost in Thailand" helped make Thailand a popular travel destination and the report suggested that National Tourism Administrations could consider cooperating with movies in showcasing beautiful scenery and their destinations' unique cultural attributes to attract inbound tourists.

A recent survey from, however, noted that more Chinese travellers were travelling independently rather than as part of a group and recommended that international hoteliers adapt their marketing accordingly.

Eve Lo, Chief Knowledge Officer, GroupM China, said travel provided a great opportunity for brands to offer engagement. "Brand marketers must understand the consumers' passion points and provide a unique experience," she urged.

Data sourced from CIC; additional content by Warc staff