Alibaba ties up travel venture with world number one hotel group Marriott

Alibaba and Marriott target Chinese outbound travellers with joint venture

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group on Monday unveiled a joint venture with Marriott International to allow Chinese travelers to book Marriott hotels through Alibaba's travel service website and app.

The travel industry is experiencing a huge growth in China, with more than 700 million trips expected to be taken over the next five years and this joint venture will give Marriott the edge because of its wide selection of hotels that travellers can choose from. No terms were disclosed. The stock has traded between $84.30 and $160.39 over the past 52 weeks.

For both companies, it also means a chance to tap into the most lucrative of all customers-ithe repeat traveler-iby linking loyalty programs.

As such, the JV will manage and operate Marriott International's Chinese-language digital channels, its mobile applications, as well as Marriott storefronts on Alibaba's travel service platform, Fliggy. Spending by outbound Chinese travelers in 2016 was $261 billion, he said.

Alipay, Alibaba's payment mechanism, will be accepted at Marriott hotels in some markets with expansion on the cards.

"It's an extension of our partnership to a new area", Daniel Zhang, Alibaba's chief executive officer, said in an interview.

The statement also says Marriott hotel owners and franchisees will benefit from lower distribution costs via the partnership. Marriott has the largest user base as well as the largest hotel portfolio and coverage.

Alibaba said the deal is aimed at providing travel solutions for China's growing middle class. Starwood had about 21 million people in its frequent-guest program at the time of the merger, and Marriott had about 56 million, with some overlap between the two.

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