• Marriott is harnessing Alibaba’s data to lure vacationers
  • They’ll create a venture to run storefront on Alibaba’s Fliggy

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is supercharging its fledgling travel service by partnering with Marriott International Inc., the world’s largest hotel operator with some 6,000 properties globally.

The companies will set up a joint venture to feature Marriott’s entire line-up, from the eponymous brand to the Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton, on Alibaba’s Fliggy site. The two will link their loyalty programs and provide promotions for Chinese travelers, they said in a joint statement.

China is now the world’s largest source of outbound travelers, a still rapidly growing populace that spent more than $100 billion in 2016 and is spurring changes across the global tourism industry. Their rising numbers have fueled a deals spree and spawned alliances between foreign hotel chains and domestic partners. Marriott and its rivals are also hunting for ways to capture more guests and shore up loyalty, as they compete with alternative providers such as Airbnb Inc. and try to reduce fees paid to the likes of Priceline Group Inc. and Expedia Inc.

“The most important piece though is the marriage of our respective areas of expertise,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s chief executive officer, declining to discuss revenue-sharing with Alibaba.“It’s really about how do we service this already large but quickly growing group of global travelers, particularly Chinese travelers.”

Marriott shares climbed 1.1 percent to $106.17 in New York. The Bethesda, Maryland-based company plans to release second-quarter earnings after the market closes. Alibaba shares rose 3.6 percent to $158.84.