August 10, 2017

Marriott CEO: Starwood buy helped make Alibaba deal happen


Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson provided color on its partnership with Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba during its Q2 earnings report, saying the deal probably wouldn't have happened had Marriott not acquired Starwood.

"When the Starwood transaction was announced, Alibaba was one of the companies that saw it and said, 'We are very intrigued by the size of this portfolio,' particularly with luxury and lifestyle and sort of the aspirational kinds of hotels that are in our portfolio," Sorenson said. "Working together, just the two of us, we can accomplish a lot that's good for us and they can accomplish a lot that's good for them."

Marriott last year worked on a targeted marketing program with Alibaba in which it signed 600,000 Marriott loyalty members in eight weeks. Bringing more guests into Marriott's loyalty system not only lowers customer-acquisition costs but also provides additional customer data, which Marriott can use to enhance its marketing. The joint venture does the company one better by allowing Marriott to leverage Alibaba's massive IT and marketing infrastructure and offering a link between Marriott's and Alibaba's loyalty programs.

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