STB calls PR and digital pitch in China to upkeep brand positioning, destination awareness and trade relations

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is on the lookout for an agency to provide PR and digital marketing consultancy services for STB China. According to a GeBiz tender seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, the appointment is for two years and two months (15 February 2021 to 14 April 2023), with an option to renew for another year. The incumbent on the account is Ruder Finn.

STB is looking to work with an agency or an agency consortium where a PR company and a specialist digital agency team up to pitch for public relations consultancy services (both PR and digital marketing) for STB China. The agency or agency consortium must be led out of Shanghai, with network offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. The agency must also have a strong relationship with traditional and new or digital media outlets and platforms in China. In the case of an agency consortium, it is required to define a lead agency at the start and determine the distribution of work, with STB China reserving the right to redistribute the scope based on business needs.

The appointed agency will be responsible for the successful implementation of STB China’s overall PR and digital marketing strategy. It will work with STB China’s appointed creative and media agency teams to critically evaluate how it can integrate PR and further amplify its brand messaging for its integrated marketing campaigns. The appointed agency will also have to provide PR and digital marketing support to initiate and amplify some of the creative ideas when necessary.

Some of the duties that the appointed agency has to take on are: communications plan development and execution (including for tourism recovery phase when international travel restrictions are eased), media and key opinion leaders relations management, social media strategy, media monitoring, crisis management, as well as strategic counsel. The agency will have to:

  • Build awareness, consideration and advocacy of Singapore as a compelling top-of-mind travel destination
  • Strengthen STB China’s influence with key media as well as celebrities, key opinion leaders, bloggers and digital influencers
  • Strengthen Singapore’s destination presence digitally across social platforms such as WeChat and Weibo
  • Plan for and drive tourism recovery in addition to subsequent sustenance of relevant initiatives and destination marketing campaigns

The monthly retainer fee will be approximately SG$57,645 to SG$86,528.

Interested agencies will have to attend a mandatory briefing on 6 November, and develop a 12-month PR and marketing communications proposal for STB China for the leisure travel segment as well as the Meetings and Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segment.

The call for this pitch comes as STB looks to maintain its brand positioning, destination awareness and trade relations with China that have been established over the years. 

STB is also looking for new and innovative ways to better reach its audience in China, and to maintain mindshare amidst strong competition from other destinations, while at the same time be poised for recovery with agility and creativity that would ensure Singapore stands out as the destination of choice. STB China’s incumbent PR agency has also been vital in supporting STB China’s communications efforts through PR and digital marketing with active engagement to claim a strong share of voice in the market, including through STB China’s WeChat official accounts, WeChat mini programmes, and Weibo account. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to STB for more information on its partners in the China market. 

China tourist impact on Singapore economy

According to STB, Mainland China was Singapore’s top tourism market for five consecutive years. Its tourism receipts clocked in SG$4.1 billion in 2019, which represented a 5.4% year-on-year growth. Singapore also saw international visitor arrivals of 3.6 million from China in 2019, making it Singapore’s largest source market and marking a 6.2% year-on-year growth.

In October 2020, Singapore announced that travellers from China and the state of Victoria in Australia will be able to enter Singapore and not be quarantined from this Friday (6 November), if they pass a Covid-19 test on arrival. This means tourists will not need to serve a stay-home notice. The news came as Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said China and Victoria were added onto the list due to their public health surveillance and control of the spread of the virus.

The opening of the border to Chinese tourists is also anticipated to help Singapore with its tourist footfalls. Last year, mainland China alone saw 3.6 million visitors entering Singapore, marking the largest absolute year-on-year growth of 6%. Indonesia (3.1 million), India (1.4 million), Malaysia (1.2 million) and Australia (1.1 million) were the other four international visitor-generating markets for Singapore in 2019. Recognising that China is the world’s largest internet market with a unique digital ecosystem which places emphasis on local companies and China-created applications, STB China has placed a greater emphasis on digital activities in its communication strategy and forged partnerships with key digital players in China over the past few years.

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According to STB's data, the two sectors that benefited the most from tourists from China are shopping and accommodation. In 2019, 49% of Chinese tourists' expenditure went to these two sectors, which far exceeds the rest of the countries. 

stb china 1

Zooming in to the fourth quarter of 2019, more than half (54%) of the expenditure from Chinese tourists went to shopping and accommodation as well, while 15% went to food and beverage. 

stb china 1

Meanwhile, over the years STB has also put in place several initiatives to lure in the Chinese tourist to Singapore. In 2019, it aided Sentosa Development Corporation in tying up with Alipay to launch Alipay’s payment solutions across 70% of merchants that participate in the Sentosa Islander Membership programme. The partnership was created to enhance guest experience and enable access to Sentosa and its attractions, F&B and retail outlets for Chinese visitors. Alipay is popular with Chinese users, and China is growing in importance as a key source market for Singapore. To drive consumer awareness of and participation in the initiative, marketing campaigns were also launched promoting various offers, and timed to coincide with key travel periods for Chinese visitors such as the Lunar New Year in February.

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(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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