Caixin
Aug 08, 2017 05:50 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Marriott, Alibaba Partner to Seize on China’s Soaring Travel Market

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Monday it is launching a joint venture with Marriott International Inc. to provide customized travel services and better online-booking experiences for Chinese consumers. Above, a woman walks by a Marriott hotel in Shanghai in December 2004. Photo: Visual China
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Monday it is launching a joint venture with Marriott International Inc. to provide customized travel services and better online-booking experiences for Chinese consumers. Above, a woman walks by a Marriott hotel in Shanghai in December 2004. Photo: Visual China

(Beijing) — China’s largest e-commerce operator is working with U.S.-based hotel giant Marriott to tap into China’s booming outbound travel market.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Monday it is launching a joint venture with Marriott International Inc. to provide customized travel services and better online-booking experiences for Chinese consumers, who will make an estimated 700 million trips abroad over the next five years.

Alibaba’s aim is “elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers” to better serve the country’s middle class, which is demanding higher-quality experiences as incomes rise, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement on Monday.

The new partnership will allow customers to book Marriott hotel and travel services on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel portal, which boasts more than 220 million users.

On the Chinese-language platform, travelers can take advantage of Marriott’s loyalty programs and special offers. They can also book personalized travel experiences, such as private concerts, family-focused excursions, and courtside seats at sporting events.

Marriott, which operates more than 6,200 hotels around the world, will allow online-payment platform Alipay — whose parent company is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma — to be accepted in some hotels. By doing this, Marriott hopes to attract more members to its membership programs such as Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

China’s policymakers have been keen to shift its economy toward consumption and services and away from exports. Tourism revenue in the country last year totaled 4.69 trillion yuan ($698 billion), or about 11% of the national economy, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Investment in China’s tourism sector is expected to grow steadily through 2017. Direct investment in the industry is predicted to reach 1.5 trillion yuan this year, an increase of more than 20% from 2016, according to the CNTA.

Contact reporter Song Shiqing (shiqingsong@caixin.com)

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