Alibaba and Marriott International have announced a joint venture which will manage the Chinese language digital channels of Marriott.
While a statement talks of “redefining the travel experience” for China’s outbound tourists this is much more about distribution.
Marriott gets access to the rising number of Chinese travellers looking for experiences outside China via Alibaba’s online online platforms.
The statement says the JV will manage Chinese language versions of the Marriott and Starwood websites as well as its mobile apps and the Marriott shops on Fliggy (formerly Alitrip).
The deal includes direct marketing to Alibaba’s existing customer base and open up the loyalty programs of the two travel giants.
The JV will also develop customised content and promotions for Chinese travellers.
The statement also says Marriott hotel owners and franchisees will benefit from lower distribution costs via the partnership.
The companies believe the partnership will make for a more personalised and seamless experience by providing access to joined up shopping, payment and trip management functionality.
Alipay, Alibaba's payment mechanism, will be accepted at Marriott hotels in some markets with expansion on the cards.
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