Alibaba and Marriott set up JV to tap boom in leisure travel

JV hopes to better leverage partners' expertise in technology and service

Alibaba Group said it has set up a joint venture with hotel group Marriott International to tap the booming leisure travel market.

The two parties will jointly operate the official webpage and Marriott's online flagship store on Alibaba's online travel unit Fliggy.

The joint venture seeks to better leverage Alibaba and Marriott's platform to tap the two parties' expertise in technology and service. 

"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,"  said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International.

"With the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class,” he added.

Chinese consumers made 130 million outbound trips annually and within five years that number is set to grow to 700 million, and global hospitality companies and Internet giants are seeking to tap the huge market potential.

Alibaba said it hopes to integrate its more than 500 million users with Marriott's membership reward program in the future. 

"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," said Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang.

The two parties didn't reveal how much they would inject in the joint venture.

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