Marriott plans to expand its presence in the China belt, teams up with Alibaba to maneuver Fliggy, the company’s travel site

Published Date : 10 Aug 2017


The renowned Maryland-headquartered hospitality company, Marriott International, has formed a lucrative partnership with Alibaba, with an aim to tap thousands of Chinese travelers. The deal, as reported, seems to be a strategic move by Marriott to expand its consumer base in China, and by extension, in Asia, by selling loyalty programs and online travel bookings. Through this partnership, Marriott will expand its total number of available properties – the W Hotels, the exclusive Ritz-Carlton, and others, that can be booked via Fliggy, Alibaba's online travel booking site.

For the uninitiated, Marriott International boasts of a top-of-the-line property range - the JW Marriott, the W Hotels, the Renaissance, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Autograph Collection. This eminent hospitality industry giant owns almost 300 hotels in China, with an equal number in the pipeline. A humongous 22 of 30 of Marriott brands already have a strong foothold in the Chinese market. Alibaba, China’s retail behemoth, encompassing 500 million mobile active users on a monthly basis, thus turned out to be natural choice for Marriott as an e-commerce partner. The China retail market player, as per the deal, is also expected to offer technology as well as high-grade translation services.

Banking on the growing incomes of the middle-class population and the subsequent rise in the number of domestic tourists wanting to travel abroad, Alibaba and Marriott plan to collectively ease the online booking procedures for high-quality hotels and the like. Estimates claim that Chinese tourists are likely to make approximately 700 million trips by 2022, in the next five years. Through this alliance with Alibaba, Marriott also aims to make it convenient for these travelers to book dining, sightseeing, and shopping deals, in addition to hotels, on Fliggy.

The collaboration between both these mammoth firms will lead to the creation of an enterprise that will operate the hospitality company’s Chinese digital channels that encompass the Marriott Mobile app, the Marriott storefronts on Fliggy, the Starwood Preferred Guest app, as well as the Chinese versions of Starwoodhotels.com and Marriott.com. The joint venture will also be connected directly to Alibaba’s consumer database, which will enable the establishment of a link between Alibaba’s loyalty program and Marriott’s loyalty programs.

As per the latest updations by reliable sources, Marriott is also expected to market some of its exclusive events, such as family parties, games, and concerts offered at its Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs through the collaboration. Furthermore, Marriott hotels will be accepting payments via AliPay, Alibaba's online payment service, in a few selected countries. This profitable partnership between Alibaba and Marriott has certainly brought about a spate of challenges for Ctrip, which had taken over three U.S. travel operators, an Indian tourism website, and Skyscanner, a UK-based travel search engine last year, with a view to consolidate its position in the China hospitality industry.

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