Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Marriott International this week announced a joint venture to target the ever-expanding Chinese traveller market, both domestically and abroad.

The new partnership is set to leverage Alibaba's digital network as a gateway for international brands to reach more than 500 million mobile monthly active users. It will also market Marriott properties directly to Alibaba's customer base, provide a link between Alibaba's and Marriott's loyalty programmes, and support Marriott hotels globally with content and customised promotions.

Alibaba Group CEO, Daniel Zhang, says: “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.

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“Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers to be more seamless and personalised as they embark on adventures to discover the world.”

According to a joint statement issued this week, the venture will provide the following:

  • Newly-integrated functionality for Chinese travellers to plan, book, pay and manage a trip online;
  • Alipay will be accepted at Marriott hotels in select global markets with further expansion expected around the world;
  • Personalised and VIP experiences—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 programme. 

Marriott's owners and franchisees globally will allegedly benefit from the new partnership by capturing a greater share of the growing Chinese travel market (Chinese travellers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years) and lower distribution costs associated with the joint venture.

Marriott International president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, says: “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.”