Marriott Partners With Alipay To Court Chinese Travelers
PHOTO: Sabrina Peng, Ant Financial Group, and Craig S. Smith, Marriott International, Asia Pacific (Courtesy of Marriott International).
As the hospitality industry focuses on Chinese travelers these days, Marriott International has teamed up with one China-based company to offer a payment option catered to Chinese guests.
Today, Marriott announced that it reached an agreement with Ant Financial Services Group (a partner of Alibaba Group) to roll out the Alipay payment system to Marriott International hotels and resorts. Via the agreement, Marriott guests will now be able to pay for their hotel stays, book meetings and events, and purchase food and beverage items through China’s largest e-payments provider using their smartphones. Hotel guests can scan their unique QR code or barcode at checkout to settle their bills, or pre-pay before arrival.
Alipay will initially be activated at 10 hotels in Greater China, gradually expanding to other hotels in China and across Asia by mid-2016, according to a release. Marriott also plans on rolling out Alipay to “properties in key markets outside Asia” by the end of 2016.
The first Marriott International hotels to offer Alipay will be The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya, Yalong Bay; The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong; JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong; JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square; Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre; Shanghai Marriott Hotel Pudong East; Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel; Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel; Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel; and Courtyard Hong Kong Sha Tin.
For a limited time at participating hotels, Marriott Rewards members who book through Marriott's direct channels like Marriott.com or Marriott.com.cn and use Alipay can enjoy a discount of up to 8 percent on “best available rate” or “best available rate with breakfast (excludes group bookings).” Marriott Rewards Members will also receive 888 Marriott Rewards points upon first time use of the Alipay service Spotpay.
The move by Marriott is another indication of its focus on delivering a mobile-friendly travel experience, while it also signifies the importance Marriott places on the Chinese guest.
The 2014 Chinese International Travel Monitor reported that 59 percent of Chinese international travelers rate local payment solutions as the second-most important feature a hotel should have (after free Wi-Fi).
Alipay is one of the most popular mobile payment options with Chinese travelers, boasting a network of 400 million registered users and 200 financial institution partners. It handles more than 120 million transactions each day, with mobile payment accounting for more than half of those transactions.
China, which currently leads the world in outbound tourists and purchasing power, is expected to record 200 million outbound tourists by 2020, according to “Chinese Tourists – Exploring New Frontiers (CLSA January 2014).”
Marriott expects Alipay to become an important payment method for the travel and meetings industry in Asia, with increased adoption outside of China, according to the release.
Speaking at the launch event, Craig S. Smith, president and managing director of Marriott International, Asia Pacific, said, "Marriott International is playing a leading role in this seminal transformation within the hospitality sector, which will ultimately allow travelers and meeting planners from China and abroad to pay in a more streamlined, seamless and digital way with their mobile device.
“We are delighted to work with Ant Financial Services Group. Leveraging the cutting-edge technology of Alipay and its significant 80-percent market share in China, Marriott is going beyond just comfort and customization at the property level, to meet the needs of travelers in a way that no other global hotel brand does today. It is a real demonstration of how we aim to deliver more local and innovative services to our customers.”
Sabrina Peng, president of Ant Financial's international business unit, added, “Alipay is the future of payments, and our vision is to better serve our users, even when they are traveling. We approached Marriott International because of its strong brand recognition and growth plan in Asia and around the world, making it an ideal partner for Alipay. We see this relationship as the beginning of a deeper collaboration between the two brands, all with the Chinese consumer in mind.”
More by Ryan Rudnansky
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