Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba has agreed to form a joint venture with Marriott International, which is based in Bethesda, Md.
The venture combines Marriott’s expertise in hospitality with Alibaba’s in digital retail. Alibaba will manage Marriott’s storefront on its travel services platform.
Consumers will be able to use Alipay, the online payments platform and payment facilitator owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, at Marriott locations. And in true payment facilitator fashion, the agreement promises to use technology platforms to provide Chinese tourists with an integrated travel experience.
Users will be able to manage planning, booking, and paying through integrated functionality offered by the partnership. The technology will also enable the companies to offer personalized travel experiences, such as court-side seats at sporting events or private concerts.
“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,” Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, said in a press release. “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.”
“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 the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class,” said Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer, Marriott International.
Marriott plans to use insights from Alibaba users to build engagement with Chinese consumers. Future plans for the partnership also include combining benefits of Marriott and Alibaba’s loyalty programs.
Alibaba has 500 million monthly active users. Marriott operates more than 6,200 properties in 125 countries.