iClick Interactive Asia Group Limited: A Leading Travel Retail Partner for Global Brands

Founded in 2009 and listed on NASDAQ in 2017, iClick Interactive Asia Group Limited is an independent online marketing and enterprise data solutions provider in China.  The company is currently on a mission to empower worldwide brands to unlock the enormous potential of the China travel retail market. iClick is headquartered in Hong Kong and operates in eleven locations across Asia and Europe.

During a conversation with Global Business Leaders, Frankie Ho (President, International Business at iClick) walked us through the wide array of offerings endorsed by the company while enlisting the factors that make it one of the leading companies in the present scenario. Frankie has received numerous accolades and recognition throughout his tenure as a leader. Recently in October 2022, he was named ‘Innovator of the Year – Technology (all)’ at the  12th Annual 2022 Business Excellence Awards, The Globee® Awards. He was felicitated with the ‘Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award’ by Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award in September 2022. In 2020, he received ‘Executive of the Year – Digital Marketing’ at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2020.

Following are some snippets from the fascinating conversation.

Tell us something about your professional background. 

Recognized among the Internet veterans in Hong Kong, I have successfully developed various ROI-driven online solutions for top-tier MNCs and premier brands in Hong Kong and the region. I possess over 15 years of solid experience and knowledge in the region’s banking, finance, and travel retail sectors, with proven team leadership skills in driving data optimization solutions for clients whose campaigns are complex in scale and coverage. 

What factors inspired the genesis of iClick? How would you describe the company and its current market stature?

Since 2009, iClick has been committed to empowering the China market entry ambitions of many worldwide brands through our proprietary data-driven solutions offerings. We are successfully helping global brands entering the China market. 

We have served 320 multinational companies, 3,000 direct marketers from SME to MNC, and agency clients, covering a broad range of industry verticals, including banking and finance, travel and hospitality, personal care and beauty, entertainment and media, and e-commerce. 

iClick’s data-driven digital solutions empower international brands to precisely reach their target Chinese audiences. We understand the Chinese market landscapes and enable marketers and brand owners to understand better the potential opportunities, ranging from yacht tours to digital tourism.

Can you elaborate on your China travel retail market entry solutions and how it benefits your clients?

There are two highly sought-after segments of Chinese audiences for travel retail — domestic travelers (to Hainan) and outbound travelers. 

iClick provides a full range of marketing solutions for brands to develop and execute their media strategies effectively in order to precisely connect with target Chinese audiences at different travel stages: pre-trip planning, pre-trip booking, in-trip, and post-trip. 

By leveraging our data-driven solutions and big data capabilities, brands can easily identify and reach Chinese travelers as early as the planning stage across premium media channels; engage them with travel retail exclusive offers during the pre-trip booking stage; feed them with brand messages and outlet-specific offers during their trips, and lastly retarget for driving repeat purchases online after their trips.

iClick empowers brands to influence their desired consumer audience segments at every stage of travel.

What are the wide range of services/solutions provided by iClick? What makes them a distinct choice for global brands?

We offer the following services:

  • Marketing Planning and Media Execution: We advise the best practice in terms of tapping into the China market by mapping out omnichannel marketing strategies, identifying the right channels and creating brand touchpoints to maximize audience engagement. We carry out ongoing reviews and optimization for ATL promotion.
  • Social Commerce Touchpoints Development and Execution: The WeChat ecosystem is an enormously popular digital marketing tool and a crucial sales channel in China. Harnessing the power of this robust ecosystem, iClick’s proprietary social commerce platforms, such as our SaaS-based WeChat mini-program builder platform iSmartGo and its CRM capabilities, empower international brands’ cross-border business success by building and operating their own digital marketplaces, making acquisition, activation, conversion, retention in customer life cycle simpler and smarter.
  • Local Market Intelligence: Our cross-border digital solutions are more than tools and execution; we offer unparalleled Chinese consumers insights and local intelligence on Chinese-style advertising promotions by our local experts that station in various offices in China to drive sales conversion. Keeping international marketers abreast of the latest do’s and don’ts in the very local environment is one of the factors that makes us different in terms of empowering businesses in connecting with Chinese audiences.

In your opinion, how does iClick Interactive solve the most common challenges faced by international brands when entering the China market?

China’s fast-changing and extremely fragmented marketing landscape have posed challenges to many brands and marketers in following the trends and evaluating cross-channel campaigns’ performance. Experiencing rapid growth in recent years, WeChat mini-program is an increasingly mature marketing ecosystem and e-commerce platform that allows brands to connect with their customers and achieve e-commerce business success. 

As a leading enterprise and marketing cloud platform, iClick sets out to empower worldwide brands and marketers to quickly adapt to changes and effectively reach Chinese audiences through our innovative and strategic product offerings.

How do you envision the future of iClick a few years down the lane? Are you planning for geographical expansion or adding new services to your catalog of offerings? If yes, please elaborate on the same. 

We expect a lot of Chinese are eagerly anticipating once again traveling freely to international destinations. There has been plentiful evidence over the past two years that whenever restrictions were loosened, there was a surge in bookings and shopping.

Brands want to stay ahead of their competitors must maximize customer engagement and create top-of-mind awareness. The same applies to destination marketing, duty-free retailers, and airport retailers – no one wants to miss out on the great comeback of travel retail, especially when no one is certain if it’s here to stay. 

And we are no exception. iClick is all set for this golden opportunity by launching a new service designed for airport non-aviation businesses in 2023.

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