New Alibaba Training to Boost Online Travel Businesses

Alibaba on Monday announced the opening of the “New Tourism Academy,” a business-training initiative aimed at helping players in China’s hypercompetitive travel and tourism market bolster their capabilities online.

The academy, co-organized by Alibaba’s professional development arm, Taobao University, and its online travel platform, Fliggy, offers about 60 courses on myriad e-commerce-related topics, ranging from managing an online flagship store and curating an online campaign message to engaging customers through Alibaba’s marketplaces. The courses, which are delivered both online and in the classroom, cover the three major pillars of the tourism industry: transportation, vacation packages, and hotels and hospitality.

All merchants with a storefront on Fliggy are welcome to join, Taobao University said. So far, three Chinese airlines—Shenzhen Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines—have signed up.

“As the age of the Chinese travelers decreases, their demands increase and the traditional online travel agency model can no longer keep up. New demands mean those in the tourism industry must adopt a new business model,” Fliggy and Alibaba Group Vice President Jerry Hu said.

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According to the World Tourism Organization under the United Nations, Chinese outbound tourists were the world’s biggest spenders in 2017, with an estimated expenditure of $258 billion, followed by U.S. tourists with $135 billion.

The Germany-based China Outbound Research Institute also noted that China had the largest number of outbound travelers in 2017, at over 150 million people. This is forecast to grow beyond 200 million annually in the next five years, the Institute reported.

To capture this business, travel operators today must be more versatile and adaptable online by engaging consumers on more than just price points, Hu said. This is where Fliggy comes in. By using analytics and the latest trends in travelers’ preferences, Fliggy is able to help vendors craft near-customized travel itineraries for their customers.

The New Tourism Academy is one of the many educational programs Taobao University holds for merchants selling on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

The mission of the program is to equip merchants with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide efficient and engaging shopping experiences for their customers. Next week, an academy designed for fashion and apparel vendors will also kick off.