Alibaba 2020; towards a digital-driven Hospitality

A limitless growth

Despite the threats and an uncertain economy due to trade wars and slower global growth, the e-commerce giant from China keep on seeing its growth raising up at a considerable pace. Considering their ambition to reach at least RMB 10 trillion consumption by fiscal year 2024, we assume that Alibaba is far from slowing down.

Alibaba is currently diving into a new journey in the digital era. It is now the newest challenge of the chinese company Alibaba to leverage the power of data technology in order to facilitate the consumption habits of the consumers.

But…How is that data technology utilized?

An innovative joint venture: Marriott and alibaba

Fliggy, the flying piggy!

What is Fliggy?

Traveling is just like being a pig- we eat, sleep and have fun!

Fliggy is an online platform in China own by Alibaba, offering online services to customers such as plane tickets, hotel booking services, tour guide services, visa application services and vacations packages purchasable through Alipay.

The wide range of partnerships of Fliggy within the airline industry

What is their uniqueness?

Recently, Alibaba has established a joint venture between Fliggy and Marriott. Where this joint venture stands out from the others is by the new release of an e-commerce portal that use the digital data collection in order to facilitate the shopping experience and the traveling journeys of the customers from China.

On Fliggy, consumers from China have the possibility to get valuable information, prior an overseas trip, from other buyers’ reviews about products and on top of that these informations are shown in their own language. This give them a better understanding on how the market works abroad and they can compare the prices between the different available stores or hotels. Then, it makes their life easier and helps them to decide wether they commit to purchase a good or not. Once the buyer decided to acquire the product, he can process the payment online through Alipay and then decide where he would like to pick it up. It helps them one more time to do everything in a convenient way and to avoid the queuing and the language barriers.

What’s next for Fliggy?

In 2020, Fliggy’s expectation is to expand their products and services to a wider range of shops and categories such as luxury brands, convenience stores etc. Fliggy also plans to run promotions and highlight select products to meet the preferences of travelers from China. With the new joint-venture between Fliggy and Marriott, guests from China will also enjoy special discounts to the Marriott’s properties.

The announcement of the new joint venture Alibaba and Marriott

Artificial intelligence in hotels?

FlyZoo, the hotel of the future

Located in Hangzhou, China, the 290-rooms ultra modern boutique has been built with futuristic technology furnished by Alibaba’s online travel platform, Fliggy.

Where technology meets hospitality

FlyZoo is the first hotel of its kind that abandons the idea of the traditional check in and key card system in order to strive toward a digitalized system of hospitality. At FlyZoo, the guests reserve and make payments wholly from a mobile app. The hotel use a facial recognition system to allow the guest to enter in their room and the many facilities of the hotel.

Additionally, the hotel FlyZoo is essentially ran by robots that serve you from the room service to the restaurant of the hotel. Then, all the payments from the guest can be effected through Alipay.

“As smart technology is reshaping industries, the FlyZoo Hotel represents Alibaba’s endeavor to marry hospitality with technology, and ultimately inspire and empower the tourism industry to embrace innovation,” Andy Wang, CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel,

Presentation of FlyZoo, the futuristic hotel

However, the Flyzoo project from Alibaba is not an attempt to penetrate the hotel industry on its own. The objective is to accustom the citizens from China to the artificial intelligence in hotels in order to, then, work closely with the Marriott’s properties and include the artificial intelligence within their hotels. Once the Chinese market will be covered, the next challenge that Alibaba and Marriott will face is to penetrate the international market that is a lot less responsive to this feature.

The artificial intelligence, a feature well appreciated in China


  1. I like the idea of implementing technology in the hotel industry, especially for check-in and check-out, but still in service such as in the restaurant at the service, or at the bar, here I have little doubts. The human being needs socialization, interaction with other people.

    But, with all this, I think they will improve and decrease the waiting time by taking rooms or handing over rooms to the hotel, and this will bring an advantage to the hotel industry.


  2. “Flyzoo hotel” is, for my understanding, a very innovative idea and a unique product, which is seeking to bring the future among us, including technologies we though they were not going to be at “our hands” nowadays.
    I am only concern, this type of hotels are loosing the “human touch” which is the main idea of delivering hospitality to guests, and driving it into a different experience not everyone is ready for.
    Alibaba, also, would need to work on another methods of check-in and check-out, for example, for the foreigners, due to, they do not use “Alipay” or Alibaba technologies on a daily basis.


  3. Hi Simon, great article. We know that robotics in hospitality are aimed at improving guests’ overall experience, in terms of time saving, greater personalization etc. But what are the negative impacts on the guest experience ?


  4. Thanks Simon for this great Article. We know that robotics in hospitality are aimed at improving guests’ overall experience in terms of time saving, greater personalization etc. but what are the negative impacts on the guests’ experience and for the hospitality industry in general ?


  5. The most interesting part is about Hotel FlyZoo that use all the advanced technology to provide services without human. It is certainly for the new generations. For me, however, I would rather receive services by people instead of robots!


  6. The whole idea about implementing technology in the hotels and the hospitality industry is a very exciting and also helps the hotels to cut labour costs. On the other hand I believe this also indicates that this will cause a decrease in employment in the hospitality sector.


  7. The combination of technology and hospitality industry is fascinating. Nowadays the overall hospitality industry is struggled with the problem of lack of staff, by using robot to carry out some easier task, perhaps the advanced technology can serve as an optimal solution to this problem.
    In addition, the development of Fliggy is really exciting. Fliggy is not like the other online travel agencies, which act as the strong distributor with dominate bargain power against the hotel, in contrast, Fliggy allows the hotel to open their own hotel store in the website. This is an online travel agency truly empowering the hotel to demonstrate their own characteristics and manage the precious customer information on their own.


  8. Very useful article, thanks, Simon, for letting us know if there is a FlyZoo Hotel in Hangzhou which is only less than an hour from Shanghai by fast train. This hotel can be one of the tourist destinations, where visitors can experience robot services. In an industry where customer satisfaction is paramount, what do you think a robot can give satisfaction to customers like human beings?


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