Alibaba Group Holding and Marriott International have announced the establishment of a joint venture that’s designed to enhance travel experiences for Chinese consumers visiting both local spots and foreign lands.
The joint venture uses Marriott International’s portfolio and unparalleled hospitality expertise to revolutionise the travel experience as well as Alibaba’s digital retail leadership and its role as a gateway for international brands to reach more than 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 travel service platforms of Fliggy and Alibaba. It will market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s and Alibaba’s loyalty programmes, while supporting Marriott hotels globally with content, programmes and promotions customized for the Chinese traveller.
As incomes have risen, Chinese middle–class travellers are seeking higher-quality products and travel experiences. Designed to satisfy consumers’ expectations for seamless, integrated, personalized and convenient travel solutions, this venture connect travellers directly to Marriott’s portfolio of international hotel brands.
The travel industry is an important growth opportunity as 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 from the joint venture by capturing a greater share of this growing Chinese travel market and lower distribution costs associated with the joint venture.
“We are proud to join forces with Marriott International – combining our large-scale consumer base, leading-edge technology and consumer insights with their unparalleled hospitality expertise,” said Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group. “Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers as they embark on adventures to discover the world.”
“We have long admired Alibaba’s digital expertise and deep understanding of Chinese consumers’ needs and behaviours,” said Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer, Marriott International.
“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. With the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing travelling class.”
The Making Global Travel Easy platform will provide newly-integrated functionality to make the entire travel experience truly frictionless from planning, booking, paying and managing a trip to all of the activities associated once at the destination like shopping, dining and sightseeing.
The Personalized and VIP Experiences will use technology to design customized 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 program. The Wallet-free Travel: Alipay will be accepted at Marriott hotels in select global markets with further expansion expected around the world.
The Next-Gen Loyalty will connect Marriott’s award-winning loyalty platform – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG – with Alibaba’s large-scale consumer reach establishing a new benchmark for the next-generation of loyalty programmes.