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Alibaba expands online travel business with global hotel chain

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and US hotel chain Marriott International have established a joint venture to serve the growing number of Chinese consumers traveling abroad and domestically every year.

Drawing on each organisation’s resources, the joint venture will manage and operate Chinese-language digital versions of and, Marriott’s mobile app and the SPG app, as well as Marriott’s storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel service.

The partnership also involves marketing directly to Alibaba’s customer base, providing a link between Marriott’s loyalty programs and Alibaba’s loyalty program, and supporting the hotel company globally with content, programs and promotions tailored to Chinese travellers.

The online travel industry is an important growth opportunity as China’s travelers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years. And as incomes rise, China’s middle class is looking for higher quality products and travel experiences.

Alibaba is not the only e-commerce company to invest in the online travel sector in recent months. Catch Group recently launched Bon Voyage, a website that offers curated holiday packages to exotic destinations at discounted prices, and Kogan launched a travel vertical in 2015.

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said the e-commerce company wants to elevate the travel experience for Chinese consumers through the joint venture with Marriott International.

“We are proud to join forces with Marriott International – combining our large-scale consumer base, leadingedge technology and consumer insights with their unparalleled hospitality expertise,” he said.

“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.”

Alibaba members were able to enroll in one of Marriott’s loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards or SPG – and book exclusive member rates through one of Marriott’s digital channels on 8 August, in celebration of Alibaba’s members day.

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