02 August, 2009

Ripped off

Were Osborne and Victor ripped off in London? A Chinese website seems to think so. China Travel Industry News is the ChinaContact Blog that claims to collect and expertly analyse all the news about China’s tourism sector. Those who read and listen to the local media will recall that at last week’s press conference the Chief Minister and the Minister of Finance reported on their activities during the previous week in London. They had gone there ostensibly to negotiate an increase in the Anguilla government’s borrowing powers. Britain holds a tight leash on the power of overseas territories’ governments to engage in borrowing that might come back to be a burden on the British Treasury Department.

While in London, the government delegation engaged in a number of unrelated, spur-of-the-moment activities. One of these adventures was to sign a contract with the Chinese Business Network. This is a London-based translation service. According to the Anguilla Minister of Finance, for a “very minimum fee of ₤5,500 Anguilla will be registered on their network. They will translate Anguilla’s promotion on their website and maintain it over a period . . .”. So Victor is reported as telling the Anguilla press.

What the China Travel Industry News Blog hints is that Anguilla was overcharged. A competitive pricing for the service contracted would have been more in the region of ₤1,500. We did not need the Blog to tell us that our government does not have a clue about how to market us. We did not need to have it rubbed in our face that we often act in a rash way without investigating the market properly. But, that is exactly what they imply about our leaders’ wild initiative:

For comparison, we charge our clients for building a Chinese version site and hosting it in China for a year around £500 + £200 for the hosting and registration of own domain name. Translation is an extra few hundred but the whole thing does not go over £1,500.

The point I am illustrating is that so many countries that are new destinations for the Chinese have no clue about how to market themselves and they often act in a rash way without investigating the market properly and seeing if their expectations are realistic.

What we at ChinaContact are hoping to do is raise the level of education and awareness about the Chinese market in an honest and transparent way. It is easy to lose control of your marketing if you don’t understand the market for yourself.

If only our boys had sought and taken a little advice first while they were in London!

Why do we have to be so cowboy about everything?


  1. Is it only me, or did you notice too?

    Every time I go into [certain Chinese business places in Anguilla, ed] they are full of Chinese serving staff. Every time they are different people serving.

    Where do they all come from?

    Where are they all going to?

    Are we laundering people now? Or is it called trafficking?

  2. Anyone have a url for the $10,000 website????

    Google only brings up "CHINA Business Network" - no listing for this group.

  3. [Bunton said] "We have a number of Chinese establishments in Anguilla as we all know, and ninety-five percent of the Chinese business in Anguilla is registered to Anguillians and I know them by name."

    *** Is this called 'fronting'? Are any of the ones he knows by name called '[name deleted, ed]'?

  4. This government spends our money or throws our monies away with ease. It must be easy to spend when it is not your own. What a waste this GOA is. Is there anyone who can stop them? or is there any way we can stop them.

  5. Where did they find this money? I thought the Tsarina spent almost the entire tourism budget on paying an airline for not flying most of the time.

    In the entire period since Air Tsarina started flying between here and San Juan, I've only heard of one time when they carried more than two passengers. Most of the time they have NO passengers. Looks like we spent all this money and then the Tsarina forgot to do the marketing.

  6. Just like some of your most "upstanding" citizens avoid import duties, so goes your gov't. It's the "good ole' boy" network that many small US cities rely on to rip off the populace. - Scotty

  7. http://www.travelmole.com/stories/1137697.php

    3 August 2009
    Are we making sure our tourism officials understand how to market a destination in China?

    Regular TravelMole Guest Comment by Roy Graff, ChinaContact

    I am asking this question because since I started advising on market entry to China, I have come across many examples of destinations throwing money at the Chinese market with useless campaigns and ineffective marketing.
    So many new destinations became ‘approved destination’ (ADS) in the last few years that there was a scramble to prepare Chinese language information, Chinese brochures, websites and go on public and trade road shows in China.

    Inevitably a host of agencies and companies started offering their services and charging rates that were decided by how much the client was willing to pay rather than how much the service was actually worth. In a free market, this takes time to stabilise but in these cases we are talking about public money coming from tax payers.

    I think that the private sector should hold officials accountable for how they spend their budget, especially in a new volatile and sensitive market like China.

    It is obvious that China cannot be tackled like any other developed tourist economy.

    But foreignness of culture and language make it especially susceptible to hasty and uninformed decisions by tourism promotion officials. The most recent example comes from Anguilla, a tiny Caribbean island.

    The chief minister and minister of finance and tourism of Anguilla went to Britain and signed an agreement with a UK-based marketing company for tourism promotion in China.

    Opponents of the government seemed to think that this meant an agreement to bring Chinese businesses to Anguilla to open shops and compete with local business. A simple misunderstanding which was clarified by the officials.

    What I took issue with is the fact that Anguilla officials think they can expect to see a sizeable number of Chinese tourists visiting their island as a result of having some information in Chinese on the internet.

    The supplier provided them with a Chinese language web presence for £5,500 (USD $9,200) per year but without their own .cn domain name.

    This is probably three times as much as they should be paying for such a service. And it will be ineffective without a domain name, search engine strategy and a proper branding campaign.

    So many countries that are new destinations for the Chinese have no clue about how to market themselves and they often act in a rash way without investigating the market properly and seeing if their expectations are realistic.

    They should be researching the online and offline marketing channels to understand how search engines work in China, how different demographics use the internet and how to engage the travel trade.

    This may take more effort than just getting some marketing blurb translated, but surely those paying want a job done properly? It is easy to lose control of your marketing if you don't understand the market for yourself.

    China is not easy, granted. But it is not an alien culture and you can know enough to make informed, rational decisions.

    About the author:
    Roy Graff has been involved in Asian business and culture since 1994 and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. He launched ChinaContact in 2005 after working in senior management positions for a global travel group in Shanghai and Beijing for three years. He focuses his consultancy practice on China's tourism and hospitality sectors with an emphasis on online marketing and e-commerce.

    For further information: www.chinacontact.org

  8. What a chuckle, if it wasn't such a waste of money. And meanwhile, they could be encouraging one of their own who does a fantastic job of promoting Anguilla.

    My favorite Anguilla tourist site has been http://www.anguilla-beaches.com for years. I noticed that she started offering advertising in an ad in The Anguillian recently: http://www.anguilla-beaches.com/anguilla-advertising.html

    Good for her. The government seems to ignore her efforts, not even linking to her site from the ATB site. Nor does the AHTA.

    I'm not promoting her, just a regular visitor to Anguilla from New York. But go to her advertising URL above and just check out the stats. She even gives you tools to compare with other sites. She knows how to market on the Web, it would seem.

    This person started her site when she was 14, is now 20 years old, and generates big-time, feel-good traffic for Anguilla, for free. And she does this part-time!

    It seems to me that the government should be approaching this person, recognizing her contribution in some way, and perhaps even ask if she has any expertise in how to penetrate the Chinese market. I bet she'd be thrilled at a thank you and she just may have some better ideas than spending so much money for a listing in some place that will hardly get seen by anyone.

  9. Nori's going to college this fall. In New York. To study advertising.

    Rock on, Nori.


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