Alibaba Group’s online travel platform Fliggy will partner with car rental platform Zuzuche in anticipation of a post-pandemic recovery in travel.
The tie-up announced on Tuesday will allow users to book vehicles from 200,000 Zuzuche outlets found in 6,000 cities across 200 countries and regions on Fliggy’s car rental channel.
Fliggy said it aims to at least double the number of car rental merchants on its platform in a year.
“We hope to bring more business to domestic car rental companies and gear ourselves up for opportunities in the post-pandemic outbound travel market,” said Li Chen, general manager of Fliggy’s transport division, referring to Chinese tourists planning foreign trips.
Chinese tourists’ pent-up demand for overseas travel rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in February, according to a McKinsey survey. Chinese travelers prefer to drive their cars or car rentals during the pandemic, partly because they think it is safer than riding public transport.
Car rental orders in mainland China grew more than threefold last year on Fliggy. And the car rental market in China could reach RMB158.5 billion ($24.3 billion) by 2025, according to a Boston Consulting Group report.
The combination of Fliggy’s travel resources with Guangzhou-headquartered Zuzuche’s supply chain and customer service will provide a one-stop service for travelers, the companies said.
The number of car rental orders placed by overseas Chinese nationals, including many students studying abroad, has outstripped pre-pandemic levels as governments have rolled back social-distancing, according to Zuzuche.
The car rental supply chain had better buckle up because Fliggy and Zuzuche have a digital upgrade in mind for the industry.
The two platforms will jointly develop an operating system that allows car rental merchants to deploy vehicles, access operational data in real-time, and help consumers find cars they like.
“[This] will allow both parties to bring concrete value to car rental companies and consumers alike, whether in the domestic or outbound travel market,” said Ben Li, co-founder of Zuzuche.
For car rental companies in China, a digital makeover also makes it easier to lower operating costs and tap into a bigger market.
Fliggy said its car rental channel could provide below-average commission rates in addition to real-time order settlement and no annual service fee.
In 2021, more than 80% of car rental merchants on Fliggy recorded order growth of 100% or above, according to the platform.