Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Marriott International, Inc. have established a joint venture aimed at the hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers travelling abroad and domestically every year.
The joint venture will leverage Marriott International’s global portfolio of brands combined with Alibaba’s role as a gateway for international brands to reach over 500 million mobile monthly active users across its platforms.
Drawing on resources from both Marriott and Alibaba, the joint venture will manage Marriott’s storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform. It will also market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s loyalty programmes and Alibaba’s loyalty programme, and support Marriott hotels globally with content, programmes and promotions customised for the Chinese traveller.
China’s travellers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years. Marriott’s owners and franchisees globally will benefit by capturing a greater share of this growing Chinese travel market and lower distribution costs associated with the joint venture.
The joint venture will elevate the travel experience for Chinese travellers in the following ways:
- Making global travel easy: The joint venture will provide newly-integrated functionality to make the entire travel experience seamless, from planning, booking, paying and managing a trip to all of the activities associated once at the destination like shopping, dining and sightseeing. The joint venture will deliver user-friendly technology that will open up a world of travel options for Chinese consumers.
- Personalised and VIP experiences: The joint venture will leverage technology to curate customised experiences for Chinese consumers. Marriott will offer access to private concerts, family-focused experiences, and court-side seats at sporting and other events through its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Moments and Marriott Rewards Moments programmes. Eligible members from Alibaba’s loyalty programme will benefit from personalised hospitality programmes and Marriott’s SPG ambassador programme.
- Wallet-free travel: Alipay will be accepted at Marriott hotels in select global markets with further expansion expected around the world.
- Next-gen loyalty: Connecting Marriott’s loyalty platform – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG – with Alibaba’s large-scale consumer reach will establish a new benchmark for the next-generation loyalty programme.
"We have long admired Alibaba’s digital expertise and deep understanding of Chinese consumers’ needs and behaviours,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International in a statement.
He added: "With the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class."