Entries by Jon Sussman

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Marriott’s China Ambitions Caught in Struggle Between Tech Giants

In a previous post, we discussed how Marriott and Alibaba agreed to promote Marriott in China through Alibaba’s subsidiary Fliggy at the same time that the partnership between Marriott and Ctrip, the leader of the Chinese online travel market, was unraveling. The competition between Ctrip and Fliggy is a microcosm of a much larger on-going battle between three Chinese tech giants: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (the trio is often referred to as BAT).

Downranked by Largest Chinese Travel Agency, Marriott Tried Again with Smaller Competitor

In August 2017, Marriott International announced a joint venture with the Chinese tech giant Alibaba and its subsidiary Fliggy. Coverage in Western media outlets touted how the deal could enable Marriott to reach millions of Chinese travelers.

But the U.S. press did not report that the Alibaba deal came in the wake of a conflict between Marriott and Ctrip, the most dominant player in the Chinese online travel industry.

What deal did Marriott make with Alibaba? An Explainer

In August 2017, Marriott International announced a strategic partnership with the Chinese tech giant Alibaba. In its press release, Marriott claimed that the partners would redefine the travel experience for hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers.

Western press mentions of the deal have repeated Marriott’s rosy predictions. In this post, we break down what Alibaba is, and explain the components of the deal.



而少数报道则称万豪的中国网站被封至少两个月 – 并且重新开放后无法直接预订酒店客房。

Marriott agreed to shut down its Chinese website for one week. Two months later, it returned – missing a key feature.

In January 2018, after an email gaffe obliged Marriott to apologize to the Chinese government (an incident we explored in a previous post), Marriott complied with a government request to shut down its websites and apps in the country. Several outlets reported that sites would be shut down by the government for a week.

What was less widely reported was that Marriott’s Chinese website was unavailable for at least two months – and returned without the ability to directly book hotel rooms.

With an email and a ‘like,’ Marriott set off a firestorm in China – and found itself caught between Chinese and U.S. public opinion.

Marriott set off a firestorm in China in January. Chinese public opinion rallied against the company, and government regulators temporarily shut down their website and apps.

The source of this conflict was simple – an email and a Twitter ‘like’ that suggested Marriott disagreed with China’s position on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.




Introducing Marriott China Observer

Welcome to Marriott China Observer. This website provides on-going research and analysis on Marriott International’s activities in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

If you are an investor in Marriott International, an analyst reviewing Marriott stock, or an international business observer, you already know that China is a critical market for the global hospitality industry: China is the world’s biggest spender on international tourism and is poised for greater growth.