Partnerships / Acquisitions

Marriott Courts Chinese Travelers With Alibaba Deal

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Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant, and Marriott International, the hotel giant, have inked a deal Monday (August 7) to enable Chinese consumers to book hotel stays via Alibaba’s travel website Fliggy.

In a press release announcing the news, the companies said Chinese consumers will be able to use Fliggy and its mobile app to secure rooms in the more than 5,700 Marriott hotels around the globe. Chinese consumers will also be able to use Alipay, Alibaba’s digital payment platform when they stay at Marriott hotels outside China.

“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 programs. With a growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class,” said Marriott International President and Chief Executive Officer​ Arne Sorenson in a press release.

Through the joint venture, Alibaba and Marriott will work together to create technology that will enable Chinese consumers to not only book and pay for a trip, but also plan and manage all of the activities — be it shopping, dining or sightseeing. Marriott will also offer access to private concerts, family experiences and courtside seats at sporting events for Chinese consumers who take part in its Starwood Preferred Guest Moments and Marriott Rewards Moments programs.

The partnership comes at a time when consumers in China are spending a lot of money on foreign travel. Alibaba said in the press release announcing the joint venture that Chinese travelers are forecast to take 700 million trips during the next five years. The deal is also part of Alibaba’s strategy to meld the offline and online worlds of retail. With the business strategy, Alibaba draws customers into the physical offline premises via online transactions and relies on big data to make that possible.

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