Manchester Airport has added Weibo and WeChat, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter and Whatsapp, to its range of social media tools in order to better communicate passengers from the destination.
The moves comes following the success of Manchester Airport’s new direct flight to Beijing with Hainan Airlines, with almost 40,000 passengers having travelled the route since launch in June this year.
Many of these turn to Weibo and WeChat to communicate with friends and relatives, and to interact with brands, so the airport has worked with Chinese digital agency, Red Lantern, to create and develop its presence on the channels.
The airport not only plans to communicate with current passengers in Mandarin who use the route, but also with the huge Chinese population across its catchment area that spans as far north as Scotland, south to the West Midlands and across to North Wales, Merseyside and Yorkshire.
This is made up of Chinese students who use the airport to access universities and also the rich population of people of Chinese heritage.
Manchester has the third biggest China town in Europe.
Patrick Alexander, head of marketing at Manchester Airport said: “What better way to speak to a core demographic and our new passenger base than adopting the channels they know and love.
“Not only can we provide them with relevant airport and airline information, but by using their channels, in their native Mandarin, we can give added value and a better, more targeted, customer service.
“The channels will provide a wealth of content and as we grow and develop our route network to China, in turn the social media channels will also grow.”
The airport’s new interactive WeChat account will give Chinese visitors full details of the airport’s services, including an airport map, travel information, eating options, language help, free WI-FI connection, and duty free tax information.
Lewis Hannam, founder of Red Lantern, said: “The direct flights between Manchester and Beijing are a significant boost to trade between the two countries, and it’s great that Manchester Airport is doing all it can to be the UK’s most China-friendly airport.
“WeChat and Weibo are vital tools in engaging and understanding your Chinese customers.
“This is just the first step in some innovative moves the airport will make for its Chinese travellers.”
Both the WeChat and Weibo accounts will also feature tourist attraction information in Mandarin for the broader area, as well as light-hearted video content from local Chinese students explaining why the area is such a great place to visit, and some of its hidden gems.
The channels will launch today, with the below handles:
Hainan Airlines flies four times a week to Beijing from Manchester with an Airbus A330-300 with 260 economy seats and 32 in business.