Susie’s Maiden China Trip
Our London Project team has just returned from a one week trip in China. It was our new project manager Susie’s first trip to China and she cannot wait to share her ‘China experience’ with you!
From the first bowl of noodles at Hong Kong airport to the last ferry trip back across from Shenzhen our recent trip to China was delicious, insightful, and exciting.
Despite being a whirlwind, staying in 5 different places across 8 nights, 3 flights, 2 bullet trains, countless cabs, and a couple of the most painful massages I’ve ever experienced, I’ve finally got my head around it, to be able to write a few words about the experience. I learnt so much about the place in such a short amount of time but even as a seasoned traveller what initially struck me about China was how important mobile technology and social media platforms are in everyday life.
We try to compare WeChat to Whatsapp , or Facebook, but in reality it goes far beyond that. Sometimes it seems like WeChat is the only phone app you need to get by in China. Here are some of the ways in which WeChat worked for me during my trip.
WeChat was used for EVERYTHING.
- Sharing expenses such as splitting the bill in restaurants – QR code scanned and paid.
- Paying for parking with a quick scan of a QR code. No need to search for the car park pay station or queuing!
- Gifting ‘red envelopes’ to friends and contacts; I particularly liked the ‘Random Amount’ function.
- Making introductions through a quick scan of a personal QR code; we are online friends or sharing a contact with others. This really helped maintain connection with some of our partners who I can keep in contact with now back in the UK. We recommend our clients to register a wechat account prior to China trip. It will make your life a lot easier and more fun!
- Group chats! Virtual meetings and file sharing made easy.
- Sharing locations (especially necessary when I left my iPad at a meeting and needed it dropped off later that evening!)
- Finding out about local events with subscribed accounts such as ‘Shenzhen Party’ or ‘Location Hunter’ in Beijing.
On the last night we took a trip to Sea World in Shenzhen and stumbled across this cutesy addition, a small, free photo booth that prints out a quick picture in exchange for your WeChat connection (through a scanned QR code)! A keepsake of a fun night out alongside the contact details of a new potential customer for the sponsored brand!
Social media marketing in action!
QR codes are not just on mobile technology or to pay for taxis. They are used for promotions where all usual marketing takes place. It was completely normal to see them attached to adverts at bus stops, on the subway, on trains, in magazines and newspapers; making customers and businesses one step closer to each other.
Mobile technology also helped pass some time while waiting for flights and trains as we spent some time floating about on the popular online shopping platforms. We took the opportunity to use the free wifi at the airport (there is free wifi nearly everywhere you go in the major cities) to have a look through some of the incredible offers on TMall, Alibaba, JD and TaoBao. Sometimes making a few small purchases, which arrived safe and sound at our next location.
It isn’t only online shopping that prevails in China, as the offline options seem endless. On my first day after arriving, my colleagues took me out to the shopping malls of Shenzhen, but being overwhelmed by the sheer abundance I got purse shy and came home empty handed! We also had a meeting with the owner of one of the most established shops in the Shenzhen Free Trade Zone where products can be trialed in the Chinese markets. Apparently anything related to health food or healthy snacks is very popular alongside beauty products for women.
All the meetings we attended were a whole new experience too and not just due to the variety of settings! Not only did they take place in a shop in the middle of a renovation, but we also met with people in hotel lobbies, high rise office blocks, the middle of the Beijing Hutong, industrial estates, technology parks, creative industry villages and countless restaurants. This can be seen as reflection of the different cultural styles and relationships people have within business and trade between the countries.
Finally, I can’t visit China and not talk about the ridiculous amount of wonderful food I ate. All the food, everywhere I went was absolutely delicious (except maybe the duck web – that wasn’t to my taste). I particularly liked that the sweet dishes served at any point during the meal! Here are some pictures to prove it…
PS – I didn’t eat the snakes.