BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- China's leisure industry is a spontaneous dance of sounds, anticipation, restlessness, sensations, human heat and intense togetherness, good and bad.
The whole country seemed to feel an overwhelming desire to see, capture and carry as much as possible. They wanted to touch, see, touch again and see it again and most importantly, see it through the lens of a camera.
The experience was all about capturing everything in sight with as many mega pixels as possible. Sightseeing is like a race against time, and innumerable fellow travelers.
Capturing the evidence of being in a place was more important than experiencing the place itself. The relative inexperience of the Chinese leisure traveler is a reflection of China's stage of development, and it offers fertile ground for marketers.
The most obvious opportunity is finding ways to help Chinese travelers get more out of vacations.
Advertisers that have brands related to travel, travel accessories and hospitality could play a more important role here. So could brands that help people better understand the places and artifacts that so far they have only been clicking and carrying home in the flash memory of a newly acquired digital camera.
Automakers can help those traveling by car discover unknown attractions on the way to the hotel.
Film and camera companies can help Chinese tourists, many of whom are first-time owners of high-end digital cameras, find better ways of organizing travel pictures. Beyond sprinkling images on a blog site, e-mailing large files or taking up space on a hard drive, they can be read, for example, on music-layered slide shows on flat-screen TV sets that are becoming common in China's middle-class homes.
Mobile phone companies and wireless carriers could offer more ways to use location-based services by developing and marketing applications that help people learn more about the temple in front of them or the myth about a lake they are walking past.
For those less savvy with technology, marketers could bundle promotional materials such as city guides with tourism accessories like North Face backpacks or camera lenses.
Advertisers have experimented with these ideas in western countries but in China, most remain unknown -- even though the mainland has become a massive market for domestic tourism.
Saurabh Sharma is a strategic planning director at Ogilvy & Mather in Beijing.
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