Alibaba Group’s travel-services platform, Fliggy, has launched the Feizhu Hotel Alliance to better connect China’s independently operated hotels with the country’s increasingly travel-happy consumers, while also offering benefits to those travelers.
Since sign-ups began in September, the new campaign has attracted 15,000 of these hotels in more than 300 Chinese cities, the company said. Alliance hotels, which can join for free, get access to Alibaba and Alipay’s combined 960 million annual active consumers in China as well as marketing support from Alibaba and a range of online tools to hotel management. Fliggy said it is hoping to raise the occupancy rate of the alliance’s 600,000 rooms by 10%.
“The core of the alliance is to empower independent hotels with a shared membership pool and to leverage Alibaba’s critical advantage in online traffic to boost their bookings and brand awareness,” said Zhuang Hai, head of the alliance and Fliggy’s Future Hotels division.
In addition to recognition for their competitive rates, comfort and quality, alliance hotels will receive special labels on the Fliggy app, while maintaining their original branding and style. Users of the app can apply the Feizhu filter to browse and book rooms from alliance hotels, with prices typically between RMB150 and RMB400 ($21-$57) a night. Additionally, Fliggy will equip alliance hotels with Alibaba tools and technologies to streamline their operations, such as booking management, membership retention and finance.
“The Feizhu Hotel Alliance is Fliggy’s latest solution to systematically empower a large number of properties in an affordable, easy-to-use and efficient way for both hotels and consumers,” said Fan Chi, vice president of Alibaba Group.
For consumers, a two-year membership costs RMB39 and includes perks such as discounts, free room upgrades, extended check-out times and an additional 8% off bookings. Members can also receive discounts on other Alibaba platforms, such as video-streaming hub Youku and movie-ticketing app Taopiaopiao.
“There are 1 billion people in China who don’t have passports, and 800 million people who have never been on a flight,” Fan said. “The alliance is about how to better serve Chinese consumers by opening up Alibaba’s tools and technologies to hotels. Together we can bring consumers value that goes beyond a hotel room and provide them with diverse and quality hospitality services.”
In China, there are nearly 1 million independent hotels and lodgings that make up over 85% of China’s hotel and hospitality industry. Over the course of the next year, Fliggy will recruit 40,000 selected hotels based on a combination of factors, including consumer demand, desirable locations and affordability, said Fan.
Wanxin Huixuan, a hotel located 10 minutes from the Shanghai Disney Resort, has already seen a 15% rise in occupancy since joining the alliance in September, said hotel manager Zhu Tao. The hotel has been encouraging visitors to sign up to the alliance by providing membership materials at the front desk and offering incentives such free upgrades and breakfasts. So far, the hotel has attracted more than 100 new active members and has reaped the long-term benefits of doing so.
“We’ve noticed a significant increase in repeat bookings and user stickiness after our guests become members of the alliance,” said Zhu. “We have also widened our customer base since we now service many out-of-town members,” he added.