TikTok to DaKa

Chinese social media change the world of global travel for millennials

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear readers,

Chinese outbound travellers have brought the hot water kettle to most hotel rooms and added Chinese cigarettes and liqueur to the offer of most Duty Free Shops in the world. Selfies have become a normal way of taking photos everywhere. Now it seems that a further trend is changing especially for millennials the way how to travel: Joining a DaKa Zu.

Da means hit or punch and Ka stands for card, Zu translates as tribe. The background for the development of this new youth culture can be found in the success of Douyin, a social media app used to load up your own and look at other users 15 second videos. Within three years, the number of monthly active users has risen to 250 million in China. The international, uncensored version is called TikTok and is becoming increasingly popular among younger users in the rest of Asia and beyond. ByteDance, the company which owns Douyin and TikTok is the rising star among China’s tech companies, challenging the predominance of Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, which together are known by the acronym BAT. Especially Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Google, find it’s quasi-monopoly status challenged by ByteDance offers for online searches.

DaKa stands for punching the card, providing proof that one visited “hot” destinations with a 15 second video uploaded on Douyin. The quality of the video is of less importance than the number of sites covered. The TikTok hashtag #打卡 (#daka) has clocked up almost 25 million hits already. So-called DaKa tribes started to work their way through Chinese cities, helped by special online guides to produce as many different Douyin videos as possible. Tour operators are even offering specific optimised DaKa tours. Similar to western sites and restaurants which try to be instagramable, shops and other companies try to make themselves as DaKa-friendly as possible.

Douyin is a good example of the speed of the development of Chinese social media and the DaKa Zu exemplifies how technology is used in culturally specific ways. Providing tourism services to Chinese outbound travellers successfully needs a constant update of new trends and preferences, especially when the travellers are jiulinghous, persons born after 1990.

A peaceful and profitable week to all our readers,

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team