New Deal Between Marriott and Alibaba Looks to Draw Tourists

August 10, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

The explosive growth of the Chinese tourist class is likely not lost on those businesses that provide goods and services to tourists, and Marriott hotels is one of the biggest such providers around. In a bid to lay claim to a chunk of that market for itself, it’s recently set up a deal with Alibaba to offer new booking and payment options.

With the deal, the Chinese tourist class can use the Fliggy website and mobile app—both Alibaba properties—to book rooms in one of the 5,700 Marriott hotels worldwide. Plus, users will be able to pay for their stay at any of those hotels via Alipay, the Alibaba mobile payments system.

The duo will be working together on new technologies designed to make it easier to set up and book travel, but also on handling the various events involved when a destination is reached. Shopping, dining, and sightseeing events are all said to fall under this umbrella.

Marriott even has a plan to offer new experiences for Starwood Preferred Guest Moments and Marriott Rewards Moments programs. These include private concerts, special seating at sports events, and even “family experiences”, though these aren’t well defined.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and CEO, noted “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. With a growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class.”

That sums it up right there; Marriott is striking while the iron is hot, and in a big way. By incorporating Alipay into its operations, it’s opened up a whole new front for the growing Chinese tourist class to take advantage of, and in so doing, start staying with Marriott. Marriott needs guests, and tourists need a place to stay, so it works out well in the end. By doing this, Marriott has vastly boosted the probability that said tourists will stay with them.

By offering an easy, familiar way to pay, and extra services besides, Marriott has opened up a great new value for those tourists, and made itself a likely destination for Chinese tourists abroad.