French hospitality group Accor and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have entered into a five-year strategic partnership to develop a series of digital applications and loyalty programmes to improve the travel experiences of Chinese consumers.

The two companies announced their collaboration at a special ceremony in Beijing last week that coincided with a state visit by President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Under the terms of the deal, Alibaba’s huge base of nearly 700 million customers across its China retail marketplaces will find it easier to access and make use of Accor’s global offerings, which amount to 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries.

Through Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel platform, Chinese consumers will be able to book Accor hotels – which include brands like Novotel, Mercure and ibis – as well as other lifestyle services. And bookings can be made via Alipay, Alibaba’s digital payment service, which Alibaba is keen to roll out globally.

Similar to many of the other strategic partnerships that Alibaba has secured with leading global brands in recent years, Accor will be allowed to leverage Alibaba’s digital ecosystem, including access to consumer insights and digital marketing.

This will be important for Accor as it prepares to launch a new lifestyle loyalty programme, called ALL – Accor Live Limitless, which it plans to roll out not just in China, but globally.

In addition, Accor will offer Chinese consumers a “hassle-free” hotel experience through its “Haoke” initiative. Translating as “Welcome”, the Haoke programme ensures Accor’s hotels are geared towards Chinese travellers by offering Chinese-speaking staff and Chinese cuisine among other services.

“We welcome this newly formed strategic collaboration with Accor as a further step towards the digitalisation of the tourism industry,” said Angel Zhao, president of Fliggy and SVP of Alibaba Group.

“We look forward to enabling the hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers in Alibaba’s ecosystem to discover the world, and to enjoy stress-free and memorable travel with new digital experiences,” she added.

Gary Rosen, chairman and COO of Accor Greater China, said: “Alibaba is the world’s leading e-commerce giant spearheading the global digital scene. Through our partnership, we will revolutionise the industry through our disruptive lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless.”

Sourced from Accor, Alibaba; additional content by WARC staff