By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Marriott International and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd have announced the establishment of a joint venture to redefine the travel experience for the hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers traveling abroad and domestically every year.
The joint venture will leverage Marriott International’s global portfolio of brands and unparalleled hospitality expertise to revolutionize the travel experience as well as Alibaba’s digital retail leadership and its role as a gateway for international brands to reach over 500 million mobile monthly active users across its platforms.
Drawing on resources from both Marriott and Alibaba, the joint venture will manage Marriott’s storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform.
It will also market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s loyalty programs and Alibaba’s loyalty program, and support Marriott hotels globally with content, programs and promotions customized for the Chinese traveller.
As incomes rise, China’s middle class is looking for higher quality products and travel experiences. This new venture is designed to satisfy consumers’ expectations for seamless, integrated, personalized, and convenient travel solutions that connect travellers directly to Marriott’s portfolio of international hotel brands.
The travel industry is an important growth opportunity as China’s travellers are expected to take an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years.
Marriott’s owners and franchisees globally will benefit from the joint venture by capturing a greater share of this growing Chinese travel market and lower distribution costs associated with the joint venture.
“We are proud to join forces with Marriott International – combining our large-scale consumer base, leading-edge technology and consumer insights with their unparalleled hospitality expertise,” said Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group.
“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.”
“We have long admired Alibaba’s digital expertise and deep understanding of Chinese consumers’ needs and behaviours,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International.
“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. With the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class.”
The joint venture will elevate the travel experience for Chinese travellers by providing newly-integrated functionality to make the entire travel experience truly frictionless from planning, booking, paying and managing a trip to all of the activities associated once at the destination like shopping, dining and sightseeing. The joint venture will deliver user-friendly technology solutions that will open up a world of travel options for Chinese consumers.
It will also leverage technology to curate customized experiences for Chinese consumers. Marriott will offer access to private concerts, family-focused experiences, and court-side seats at sporting and other events through its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Moments and Marriott Rewards Moments programs. Eligible members from Alibaba’s loyalty program will benefit from personalized hospitality programs and Marriott’s award-winning SPG ambassador program.
In addition, Alipay will be accepted at Marriott hotels in select global markets with further expansion expected around the world; and connect Marriott’s award-winning loyalty platform – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG – with Alibaba’s large-scale consumer reach will establish a new benchmark for the next-generation loyalty program.
Normalcy Restored at Lagos Airport as Aviation Workers Suspend Strike
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Normalcy was restored at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos on Monday afternoon after workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc disrupted flight operations this morning.
The aviation workers had embarked on an indefinite strike action to ask for a better welfare package from the management of the company.
Their action left many air passengers stranded on Monday morning, with operators suspending their flights in the process.
But the industrial action was later called off by the leaders of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees, which promised to enter into talks with NAHCO, with a view to resolving the matter.
The aggrieved employees of NAHCO asked the management to increase their salaries after hike air fares by 100 per cent. They claimed that the company was being insensitive to their welfare.
NAHCO Workers’ Strike Paralyses Flight Operations At Lagos Airport
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Activities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, were paralysed on Monday after some employees of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc embarked on an industrial action.
The NAHCO workers protested the failure of the management of the company to heed their demands, including an increase in salaries and better welfare packages.
Air passengers who were at the Lagos airport were left frustrated today due to the demonstration by the aviation workers, with a few international flights disrupted.
It was gathered that most airline operators were caught unawares as they did not have prior notice that the NAHCO staff members were planning to down tools on the first working day of the week.
This led to the abrupt suspension of flight operations by most operators this morning while efforts were being made to resolve this issue in order to reduce the losses that could arise from the action of the workers.
Emirates Resumes Flights to Shanghai, Beijing After Border Reopening
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Ahead of the New Lunar Year in China and in response to strong travel demand in the country, Emirates is ramping up its operations and has resumed flights to Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.
Recall that this month, the Chinese authorities removed its stiff COVID-19-related entry restrictions and reopened its borders to international travellers.
Emirates said following this new development, it would resume passenger services to Shanghai starting with two weekly flights operated by an Airbus A380 aircraft from 20 January 2023, with EK302 departing from Dubai to Shanghai non-stop and EK303 making a short stop in Bangkok before returning to Dubai.
This service will ramp up in frequency to four weekly flights operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from 02 February 2023. During this period, Emirates’ flight EK302 will depart Dubai at 03:45hrs and arrive in Shanghai at 15:40hrs. The return flight EK303 will depart Shanghai at 17:40hrs and arrive in Bangkok at 21:45hrs before taking off from the Thai capital at 23:20hrs and arriving in Dubai at 03:20hrs the next day.
The airline operator said it would further boost its Dubai-Shanghai route from 1 March 2023 with a daily non-stop service. Its flight EK304 will depart Dubai at 09:15hrs and arrive in Shanghai at 21:05hrs. The return flight EK303 will leave Shanghai at 23:00hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:20hrs the next day.
Starting from 1 February 2023, Emirates will increase services between Dubai and Guangzhou with EK362/EK363 operating as daily non-stop flights with the flagship Emirates A380.
Its flight EK362 will leave Dubai at 10:45hrs and arrive in Guangzhou at 21:45hrs. The return flight EK363 will depart Guangzhou at 00:15hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:15hrs. Emirates currently operates a non-stop flight from Dubai to Guangzhou as EK362, and a return flight from Guangzhou to Dubai via Bangkok as EK363, four times a week.
Operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, Emirates’ flight EK308/ EK307 will return to China’s capital city Beijing with a daily non-stop service from Dubai, starting from 15 March 2023. Emirates’ flight EK308 will leave Dubai at 10:50hrs and arrive in Beijing at 22:20hrs. The return flight EK307 will depart Beijing at 00:40hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:00hrs.*
This will bring the airline’s operations in the market up to 21 weekly flights, providing increased choice and flexibility for both business and leisure travellers, and contributing to China’s tourism recovery.
Tickets can be booked on emirates.com, the Emirates App, or via travel agents. Travellers are also encouraged to check the latest entry requirements.
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