Accor hotels across the world are preparing to welcome Chinese tourists with new digital partnerships and programs. Source: Shutterstock

Accor hotels across the world are preparing to welcome Chinese tourists with new digital partnerships and programs. Source: Shutterstock

Accor Hotels partners with Alibaba to welcome Chinese tourists overseas

CHINESE tourists love to travel, but booking holidays and making payments is often a challenge.

Further, once overseas, understanding menus and communicating with hotel staff can be difficult too and hamper the overall experience.

To overcome these obstacles, French hotel group Accor has partnered with Chinese e-commerce and technology giant Alibaba. Together, the duo will develop a series of digital applications and loyalty programs to improve the consumer and traveler experience over the next five years.

The announcement was made at a special ceremony in Beijing during the 2019 China International Import Expo. Accor was among the delegation of French companies accompanying President Emmanuel Macron on a state visit to China.

According to Accor, partnering with Alibaba will provide access to nearly 700 million consumers and enable more Chinese travelers to enjoy Accor’s consumer offerings.

“This collaboration with Alibaba will be a significant move for both companies as we work towards achieving common goals while offering an increased number of surprisingly dynamic options for Chinese world travelers,” said Accor Greater China Chairman and COO Gary Rosen.

“Our ultimate ambition is to add unforgettable value every day in our customers’ lives – no matter where they live, work or play.”

The partnership will allow for a seamless integration of Accor’s customer journeys within Alibaba’s comprehensive ecosystem.

Alibaba’s travel arm Fliggy will allow consumers to book hotels, access catering services, book entertainment and take advantage of other lifestyle services. Payments can be made using Alipay, a digital payment service operated by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.

Further, Accor has developed a new program dubbed ‘Haoke’ which is aimed at delighting Chinese tourists and providing them with a better experience when in an Accor property.

‘Haoke’, which means welcome in Chinese, is a certification program that ensures Accor’s hotels are ready to welcome Chinese guests by incorporating Chinese-language, Chinese dishes on menus, Chinese-speaking staff, and other services and payment systems that meet the needs of Chinese travelers.

“We are excited to enter into this strategic global partnership with Alibaba, a leading global technology company in the world,” said Accor Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin.

“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.”

While the partnership leverages Alibaba’s ecosystem, Alibaba Group Senior Vice President Angel Zhao, the partnership will enable Alibaba’s Fliggy to introduce a younger generation of consumers to the Accor portfolio of hotels and lifestyle offerings — all of whom love to travel and spend money overseas.

In overseas markets, given the rise of Chinese tourists going to the US and the European Union, Alibaba has also cemented its position as a financial services provider by partnering with foreign merchants and establishments at popular destinations such as London and New York, to make payments simpler.

Over the next few years, more companies are expected to find ways to deliver better experiences to Chinese tourists, whether they speak English or not.