French hospitality giant Accor has partnered with Alibaba Group, a global retail commerce business, to develop digital applications and loyalty programs to appeal to Chinese consumers over the next five years.
Alibaba has about 700 million consumers in China, giving Accor an entrée into a lucrative market. Alibaba has a travel arm called Fliggy that will facilitate consumers booking hotels, catering services, and entertainment offerings through Accor. Customers will be able to use Alipay, a digital payment service operated by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.
Accor has about 4,900 hotels and residences in 110 countries. The company has been making strategic partnerships with retailers such as the fragrance retailer Lola James Harper. It also rebranded earlier this year as Accor versus AccorHotels as it branches out into different sectors of the industry. The company said it would spend $255 million on a new loyalty program called ALL, which stands for Accor Live Limitless. Alibaba is helping on the rollout of that new program by offering digital marketing and other capabilities.
“China’s importance to the world’s tourism industry and this key collaboration with Alibaba will symbolically strengthen economic ties between China and France, while giving Chinese travelers access to exciting events and benefits through ALL – Accor Live Limitless,” Accor CEO Sébastien Bazin said.
Accor has also developed a program specifically for Chinese consumers called Haoke, which means “welcome” in Chinese. It’s a certification program that makes sure Accor hotels incorporate Chinese language in its signage and menus, Chinese dishes, Chinese-speaking staff, and other services. China’s middle class has been a significant target market as they look to travel more.
“Our consumer-facing business facilitates and stimulates consumption, of which travel consumption is an important segment,” Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said. “Through the Alibaba Business Operating System, we enable tourism industry partners such as Accor to fully digitize their business operations, from sales to marketing, brand building to member management and service innovations.”
Accor launched a flagship store on Fliggy in 2016 to sell its inventory of rooms. Alibaba has also had significant collaborations with other hotel companies, including one with Marriott International that launched in 2017.