In 2019, six million Chinese traveled to Europe, many drawn by the historical monuments and museums comprising the continent’s rich cultural tapestry. The evaporation of this vast and lucrative visitor base is forcing cultural destinations to reassess Chinese engagement strategies with live streaming becoming a vital tool.

Live streaming emerged from the shadow of lockdown as the dominant digital practice in China. Real estate agencies, car dealerships, travel agencies, and, yes, Chinese cultural institutions all embraced a medium that encourages interactive and entertaining connections with consumers.

And Europe’s museum’s are catching on. Since March, the British Museum, the Chateau of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Prado (not to mention a host of tourism boards) have all begun broadcasting live to China. The company responsible for some of Europe’s most prestigious cultural destinations turning to this dynamic technology is Fliggy, the travel platform of Chinese tech giant Alibaba.

In anticipation of Jing Culture & Commerce’s webinar exploring live streaming in the cultural sector alongside the British Museum and Fliggy, we’re previewing a conversation with Fliggy’s Regional Director for Europe & Middle East, Ada Xu.

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Live streaming became a key strategy for Chinese cultural institutions in 2020, why?
The popularity of live streaming has been driven by Chinese consumers’ desire to engage and learn more about the products and services they are purchasing. Live streaming is a unique tool that is interactive, immersive, and creates a feeling of authenticity that doesn’t exist with other marketing tools.

During a period of limited travel, live streams allowed Chinese travelers to experience exclusive behind-the-scenes access to famous tourist hot spots, which were otherwise closed.

Market size of live streaming in China in 2018 and 2019 with a forecast for 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars). Source: Statista

What role does live streaming serve in a cultural context?
Live streams are a way to share real-time content directly to users. In recent years, the technology has become one of the most powerful tools to engage with Chinese consumers. It allows consumers to speak directly to hosts about the places they are seeing on screen and to experience something in a more dynamic way.

Why should culture and travel stakeholders consider live streaming at this time?
Cultural destinations should use this moment to capture the attention of curious Chinese consumers. The further geographically a destination is from China, the more effort and energy it must spend to maintain its attractiveness to Chinese consumers. The pandemic has transformed the travel industry, but it has also created a unique opportunity for tourist destinations.

What do Western cultural destinations need to know about the Chinese market?
I think the key takeaway for cultural destinations is to be open-minded. Museums should learn about Chinese consumer habits, and think about how they can leverage aspects of their destination to appeal to Chinese consumers. Flexibility is also important – the world is changing, and destinations all over the world need to rethink their traditional way of operating.

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