Chinese travellers abroad want to order via WeChat Mini Programs: survey finds

Key Takeaways:

  • Dao Insights recently conducted a survey on Chinese travellers’ experience of ordering food abroad.
  • The survey found that WeChat Mini Programs is the go-to ordering method for most, as well as the preferred method, followed by ordering at the counter/with staff and on HTML5 (H5) websites.
  • Many cite the ability to overcome language barriers as a key reason for using Mini Programs to order, while preferring it to H5 because it can store order history and is convenient.

For those living in China, there’s nothing surprising about ordering your food in a restaurant via a dedicated WeChat Mini Program (officially known as Weixin Mini Program). WeChat Mini Programs are “mini-apps” built into Tencent’s all-in-one app WeChat. But for those travelling abroad, of which there are now more and more of them, can they also enjoy the same convenience like at home? We have recently conducted a survey to find out just that.

Travel in China has been recovering steadily since the end of the Coronavirus pandemic, including international travel. The latest data from this May Day holiday shows that international flight numbers had risen to 70% of 2019 levels. Indeed, Bloomberg went so far as to predict it will reach over 90% of 2019 capacity before the end of the year. Between 27 April and 5 May, international travel orders from Mainland China were only 7% lower than 2019 levels. Flights to some visa-free destinations surpassed 2019 levels by 30%.

Data from May Day holiday shows that international flight numbers had risen to 70% of 2019 levels

The survey we conducted received over 200 valid responses between 10-12 June. The respondents are from 27 provinces in China with one located abroad in the UK. The gender of respondents is about even with 50.25% being male and 49.75% being female. 45.77% of the participants are aged between 18 and 25 years old, while 30.35% are between 26 and 35, therefore, 76% of the answers from the post-90 generation and younger, loosely correspond to Millennials and Gen Z.

All respondents have experience travelling abroad while nearly three-quarters of them travel abroad at least once annually (46.77% travel each year and 26.37% travel more). Over 70% consider themselves frequent international travellers. 68.16% would choose local restaurants while 69.16% would dine at local Chinese restaurants.

Most of the respondents would use WeChat Mini Programs as the go-to ordering method, more than those who regularly order at the counter/with staff and through HTML5 (H5) websites combined. Among the respondents who use Mini Programs as their frequent ordering method, 71.93% prefer restaurants that provide Mini Program ordering (29.82% strongly agree and 42.11% agree) to those that don’t. In comparison, about two-thirds of these participants prefer restaurants with the H5 website ordering function to those without. Over 71% regard restaurants with Mini Program ordering more highly. Nearly 70% of frequent Mini Program users feel more welcome when ordering with it abroad. Interestingly, over 65% say that ordering with Mini Programs makes them feel like ordering more (31.58% strongly agree and 34.21% agree).

Most of the respondents would use WeChat Mini Programs as the go-to ordering method

Among all participants, 61.69% feel that ordering via WeChat Mini programs helps solve language problems with dining while travelling abroad. Among participants who don’t order in English or local languages and those who don’t understand menus very well, the Mini Program is the preferred ordering method, with 42.86% and 50% respectively.

Our survey found that WeChat Mini Programs is the preferred way for Chinese travellers abroad, especially those who are already frequent users. It is followed by ordering at the counter or with staff, ordering at self-service kiosks and via H5 websites. Most respondents feel the advantage of WeChat Mini Programs compared with websites is the ability to check past order history (68.66%) and convenience (61.19%). When asked how Mini Programs can improve, over 98% of respondents say to incorporate more language support. 94% want more diverse payment methods. Notably, 85.07% of answers want it to be more widely adopted. This is a suggestion we can fully get behind.