Alibaba, Marriott in joint venture to deliver new digital travel experience for Chinese tourists
Travel industry is an important growth opportunity, as Chinese consumers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years
E-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group Holding is teaming up with Marriott International in a joint venture that aims to deliver more personal digital travel services for mainland Chinese tourists.
“Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers to be more seamless and personalised, as they embark on adventures to discover the world,” Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong said in a statement on Monday.
The joint venture will manage and operate Nasdaq-traded Marriott’s Chinese-language digital channels, which include the Chinese versions of Marriott.com and Starwoodhotels.com, the Marriott mobile app and SPG app.
It will also manage the Marriott storefronts on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform previously known as Alitrip.
In addition, the venture will market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between the loyalty programmes of Marriott and Alibaba, and support Marriott hotels globally with content and promotions customised for Chinese travellers.
The strategic partnership will also enable Alipay, the mainland’s leading online payments platform, to be accepted at Marriott hotels in select markets, with further expansion planned in other locations.
“By forming this partnership, we are pairing our hospitality expertise with Alibaba’s digital travel platform, retail expertise and digital payment platform, Alipay, and driving membership to our loyalty programmes,” said Marriott International president and chief executive Arne Sorenson.
“This venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing travelling class.”
Headquartered in the United States, Marriott has a portfolio of more than 6,200 properties under 30 leading hotel brands, including JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and W Hotels. These properties are located in about 125 countries and territories.
The travel industry is an important growth opportunity, as China’s consumers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years, according to Alibaba.
Data from iResearch showed that the gross merchandise volume of China’s online travel market reached 590.4 billion yuan (US$87.7 billion) last year, up 33.3 per cent over 2015.
New York-listed Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.