One of Scotland’s biggest tourism events, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, has announced it is the first Scottish tourism business to sign up for the WeChat Pay service, one of the largest payment systems in China, as it pushes forward with its plans to take the military showcase to the country in 2020.
WeChat, although relatively unknown in Europe, is akin to Facebook Messenger or Snapchat, and is a huge social messaging networks in Asia, with 938 million monthly active users, 90% of whom are in China.
The firm behind WeChat, Tencent, has pioneered simplifying online payment and WeChat Pay has become a trusted method for millions of Chinese users to regularly pay for goods or services directly from mobile handsets linked to their bank accounts. China is a global leader in moving to a cashless society with the mobile payment market there worth 50 times more than in the USA last year, according to recent research.
The partnership agreement was signed today and will allow the Tattoo to improve a broad range of its services for Chinese visitors, including a live ticketing system for the 2018 show and other services and merchandise.
The historic agreement, which was unveiled by Tattoo Chief Executive and Producer, Brigadier David Allfrey, comes following the continued influx of Chinese nationals making the trip to the Tattoo each year and the longer-term goal to take the event to China in 2020. There was an 89% increase in tickets sold directly to Chinese visitors for the Tattoo between 2015 and 2016.
Brigadier David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “This is a game-changer in building relationships with our Chinese customers and in partnerships going forward. We have been in a number of conversations in China for the last six years and are delighted to be the first Scottish tourism business to connect in this way. It feels like a major milestone. Together WeChat and WeChat Pay will make it easier to talk to current and future customers and I hope they will make it simpler for visitors to take advantage of all that Scotland has to offer. Beyond this, we are working with Chinese co-producers to bring a major contingent to Scotland in 2018 and take the Show to China in 2020.
“We are proud to be contributing to what has been called a golden era for UK-China relations. And, are looking forward to playing a small part in President Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative which aims to make connections across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. For us, a road should act as a bearer of ideas and traffic in both directions and this coincides perfectly with the Tattoo’s central purpose of bringing people together.”
Sudhir Taparia, Director of Wikaas UK Ltd, the company that will facilitate the ticketing system in the UK, said: “We are delighted to have The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on board as our first premier merchant in Scotland accepting WeChat Pay. As a ‘state of the art’ payment solution WeChat Pay will bring about major benefits for all parties concerned, keeping the Chinese customer’s experience foremost in mind, at the same time promoting The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s brand in China through the official account. This is all the more timely and relevant given The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s imminent entry into mainland China in 2020.”
Roddy Gow, Founder and Chairman of the Asia Scotland Institute and the introducer of this initiative, said: "We believe that this is a very significant step in building really strong links between Scotland and China. Unlocking the ability of Chinese visitors to pay for services and goods is the beginning of what could have a transforming influence on a number of different sectors."
Graeme White, Director of Tourism at Scottish Development International, said: ““The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a forward-thinking organisation, not only getting itself China-ready but now taking the initiative to implement WeChat Pay. WeChat Pay allows The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to offer Chinese visitors a familiar and convenient payment method. This really is going the extra mile to meet the needs of their customers. This is a great example of a company attuned to its Far Eastern customers.”
Rob Lang, Chair of the ETAG China Ready Delivery Group and Head of Marketing at Edinburgh Airport Ltd, said: "It is great to have one of Edinburgh's iconic events leading the way in providing a great experience for Chinese visitors. We know that mobile payment options such as WeChat Pay are increasingly the preferred payment method for the Chinese and providing this service in Edinburgh will encourage additional visitor spend and give businesses a competitive edge in this fast growing market"
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo returns to the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle between 4-26 August, offering a thrilling mix of entertainment and pageantry from cultures around the world to an audience of 8,800 each evening, and a further 100 million through televised broadcasts globally.