New travel social platform talkholiday expects to add membership clubs for the Caribbean and Russia after officially launching China Club yesterday.
China Club is a partnership with China Daily Europe, the biggest English-language Chinese media group which has produced a European edition since 2010.
It offers exclusive deals for members for travel to China as well as direct contact with ambassadors, or local experts, in destinations.
The group is also expected to help generate interest in travel to China, increasing understanding of the country and facilitate contacts between businesses and individuals.
Chris Newlands, managing director of talkholiday, which launched earlier this year, said the idea was to inspire people to get to know more about Chinese culture.
“From our perspective we are trying to create open architecture social media where people can talk to the world,” he said at the launch of China Club hosted by the Bank of China in London.
Newlands said he sees China Club as a platform for individuals and businesses to share their experiences and connect to create unqiue tailor-made trips they can buy through the site.
Unlike other social media platforms talkholiday does not offer advertising, instead firms can sponsor areas of the site dedicated to destinations or attractions to promote their expertise and product.
Partners already signed up for China Club include The Dorsett Hotel Group, tour operator CTS Horizon, and Bicester Village parent Value Retail.
Talkholiday, which currently has 10,000 members, hopes to tap into the reach of China Daily to drive up membership.
China Daily has 2.2 million active members on Facebook, mostly affluent and well-travelled people and businesses with interests in China.
The average annual earnings of their reader is €111,000 per annum.
China Daily chairman, Ji Tao, said the primary audience for China Club is UK and European leisure travellers.
“We believe very soon China Club will be seen as the main first contact channel top do business or simply just to travel to any Chinese region.”
Newlands said talks are underway about establishing similar clubs for the Caribbean and Russia along the same lines as China Club, an initiative that came out of a meeting at World Travel Market last year. A club for the US is also planned.
“We will provide travellers with something they cannot get anywhere else. It’s about being a bit more social and everything is verified and authentic,” he said.
Talkholiday is poised to launch an events arm in six weeks time offering virtual meetings and incentives events to help businesses connect with new and existing contacts.
It also plans to launch a currency card offering guaranteed market-leading rates, revealed Newlands.
He said talkholiday aims to change people’s online social habits. “Facebook is quite insular in that they only encourage you to talk to people you know.
“With us you can talk to local people who are there right now. Eventually you will be able to talk to people in the hotel you plan to use. You can send messages to people like you.”