Marriott to partner with Alibaba

Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) announced on Monday that it will partner with Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA) to provide for the growing number of Chinese tourists who travel abroad, according to Reuters.

The world's biggest hotel chain said the joint venture with Alibaba would allow Chinese travelers to book rooms at Marriott hotels via Alibaba's travel service platform, Fliggy. The partnership will connect Marriott and Alibaba's loyalty programs. Tourists would be able to pay for their bookings using the Chinese e-commerce company's online payments platform, Alipay, the companies noted.

The long-term market opportunity in China is huge for companies targeting both domestic and outbound Chinese travelers, according to Rich Hightower, an equity analyst with Evercore ISI. Over the next five years, Chinese travelers will take an estimated 700 million trips, the companies said in a statement.

Marriott owns the JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and Autograph Collection hotel brands, among others. It has nearly 300 hotels in China and around 300 hotels in the pipeline, according to a Marriott spokeswoman.

Marriott's shares were up 0.8 percent at $105.85 in afternoon on Nasdaq. Alibaba shares were up nearly 3 percent on the New York Stock Exchange at $157.90. Marriott is due to release second-quarter earnings after the close of trading on Monday.

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