IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, today announces that it has signed a global partnership with Alipay, China’s leading third-party online payment solutions company. It makes IHG the first global hotel company to give Chinese guests the ability to pay via Alipay through all of IHG’s online and mobile channels, as well as across its full estate of hotels globally.
The new partnership, which has been agreed with Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial, will initially apply to IHG’s existing estate of more than 270 hotels in Greater China, as well as a number of hotels around the world that participate in IHG’s China Ready Programme, which offers a range of tailored services to Chinese travellers. The global rollout of Alipay will begin in 2017.
IHG was first global hotel company to enter the China market more than 30 years ago and China is now its second largest market globally. The partnership will allow IHG to further capitalise on the significant increase in Chinese outbound travel. According to IHG’s Future of Chinese Travel Report published in 2015, nearly 90 million Chinese households will be able to travel overseas by 2023, fuelled by a growing middle class and increasing propensity to travel.
Keith Barr, Chief Commercial Officer, IHG commented: “IHG has always been a leader in providing advanced payment solutions to guests through our direct booking channels. We are thrilled to be partnering with Alipay to strengthen our ever-evolving travel experience for our guests globally.”
Sabrina Peng, Vice President of Ant Financial, commented: “As China’s leading online and mobile payment solution provider, Alipay aims to deliver convenient and flexible services to customers. We would like to provide ‘a taste of home’ for our users when they travel abroad. With IHG’s extensive global footprint, this strategic collaboration will help Alipay reach out to more customers, especially Chinese customers as they travel around the world.”
Emily Chang, Chief Commercial Officer, IHG Greater China, added: “Being able to pay for rooms and services in a familiar payment format is integral to the overall guest experience by ensuring a smooth booking, onsite and checkout process for our guests. Furthermore, via this strategic global partnership with Alipay, we will be exploring opportunities for more in-depth cooperation, including Post Post Pay and the Hotel of the Future Programme, to further improve the booking, onsite and departure experience for our guests.”
Alipay is currently available in 70 countries and regions across the world. It handles over 160 million transactions every day, of which mobile payments account for more than 70 per cent. To further enhance the user-experience at hotels across China, Alipay is working closely with Alitrip’s innovative Hotel of the Future Programme. This programme includes the Post Post Pay product, which enables hotel guests with high credit ratings to make hotel room bookings through Alitrip without paying a deposit at check-in, and to enjoy the true convenience of express check-out.
Today’s announcement builds on IHG’s existing agreement with Alipay. In 2012, IHG became the first global hotel company to launch a flagship e-store on Alitrip at ihg.alitrip.com, China’s largest e-trading platform for online tourism services. The same year, IHG began partnering with Alipay to offer the payment solution through IHG’s online booking channels for its hotels in China.