(Yicai Global) May 5 -- As Shanghai’s tourism sector grinds to a halt as the city enters its second month of lockdown to battle a new outbreak of Covid-19, the operator and founder of travel agency platform Lianhuazhilv has found a way to keep afloat by livestreaming ticket presales.
“I am collaborating with live sales hosts on Douyin, the Chinese version of short-video app TikTok, to make promotional videos of scenic spots and hotel-based activities,” Miao Yannan told Yicai Global. “We are now selling tickets and products valid for a future date at discounted prices,” he said.
Lianhuazhilv, which mainly connects travel agents to form unified tour products, managed to generate CNY3 million (USD453,844) in revenue through livestreaming presales last month on Douyin, Miao said. Although the profit from such sales is low, it is still vital cash flow that will help keep the Shanghai-based firm afloat.
“Business was good in January and February, but after the latest outbreak of Covid-19 in Shanghai in March, my agency and those of many of my peers had no business for one month,” Miao said. The five-day Labor Day holiday, from April 30 to May 4, would normally be a peak tourist season, but due to the lockdown there were zero tour groups. Usually, Lianhuazhilv had over 5,000 bookings on a weekend.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has lasted for over two years,” Miao said. “When it first hit, many of my colleagues changed careers. I have also adjusted my business structure and started to sell local specialities from around China.” At one point, he was shifting over 1,000 such items a day, earning as much as CNY200,000 (USD30,256). But this, too, he has had to halt as the delivery logistics were too complicated.
Miao has cut the number of staff in the offline business to a minimum and is boosting manpower and resources in his online division. “I would like to call on more operators in the sector to shift their focus online, so that we can keep tourism alive,” he added.
Editors: Liao Shumin, Kim Taylor