Alibaba Group Holding is expanding its online travel footprint.
The retailer has formed a joint venture with Marriott International that will make it easy for Chinese consumers to book hotel rooms across the 30 brands managed by the U.S. hotelier. Chinese customers will be able use Alibaba’s travel platform, called Fliggy, to book rooms and other related experiences at the hotels. The program will market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s loyalty programs and Alibaba’s loyalty program, and support Marriott hotels globally with content, programs and promotions customized for the Chinese traveler.
In addition, travelers will be able to use Alibaba’s smartphone payment platform during their stays at Marriott-branded hotels. Hotels in select markets will accept Alipay, Alibaba's online payment service. China’s online travel sales market this year will be worth about $86.9 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“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, CEO of Alibaba Group. “Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers to be more seamless and personalized as they embark on adventures to discover the world.”
Under the terms of the deal, Marriott will offer access to private concerts, family-focused experiences, and court-side seats at sporting and other events through its rewards programs. Eligible members from Alibaba’s loyalty program will benefit from personalized hospitality programs and Marriott’s customer loyalty program.
"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," stated Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson.