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

(Saam Gwok 262 CE by Ian Kiu – CC BY 3.0)

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).[i]

This post offers an overview of how the competition between these giants has played out in various sectors of the Chinese tech industry, and in particular within the online travel agent (OTA) market. While Marriott has allied itself with Alibaba and Fliggy, the larger struggle for market dominance raises many challenges for the Bethesda-based company. With Fliggy’s competitors commanding over 90% of Chinese online lodging bookings, what are the implications for Marriott? [ii]

Baidu – Alibaba – Tencent

Although these three companies compete in multiple areas, they each have a different core business. Baidu, often compared to Google, is the operator of Baidu.com, China’s leading search engine with a 73% market share.[iii] [iv] The primary business of Alibaba, the “Amazon of China,” is e-commerce.[v] [vi] Tencent, which operates the social media app WeChat, temporarily surpassed Facebook in November 2017 to become the world’s fifth largest public company by market value.[vii]

Each of the three Chinese giants operates and invests in a large variety of sectors complimentary to its core business, leading to fierce competition.[viii] In recent years, the three companies and their allies have fought over dominance in industries as diverse as food delivery, bike sharing, and trucking.[ix] [x] [xi] Bloomberg labeled a running battle between rival trucking apps backed by Tencent and the head of Alibaba as “toxic.” [xii]

A key area of competition between the BAT companies is payment systems. Alibaba introduced its payment system Alipay in 2004 to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers using its platform.[xiii] In 2013, Tencent created its own payment system WeChat Pay; Alipay saw its share of mobile transactions by value fall from 80% to 54% in the three years between 2014 to 2017.[xiv] Baidu launched its own mobile payment service in 2014.[xv]

According to CB Insights, over 40% of the “unicorns” in China – privately held companies worth over $1 billion – are backed by Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and the e-commerce company JD.com, or their affiliates.[xvi] The latter, a competitor of Alibaba in the retail sector, is itself backed by Tencent.[xvii] [xviii]

The Baidu – Tencent Alliance in Online Travel

Between the three companies, in 2016 Tencent earned the most revenue and profit, followed by Alibaba and Baidu.[xix] However, Baidu is the largest shareholder in Ctrip,[xx] the leader in the Chinese online travel market with a 65% market share (compared to Fliggy’s 15%).[xxi]

Over the past two years, Ctrip made a series of major acquisitions in the online travel industry, including its OTA rival Qunar, and the travel search site Skyscanner.[xxii] In an interview with China Daily, Ctrip’s CEO stated that the company is successfully digesting recent acquisitions and is poised to capture a bigger slice of the business travel market from the country.[xxiii]

What could further bolster Ctrip’s dominance in the OTA sector is its alliance with Tencent. On December 29th, 2017, Ctrip announced that two of its portfolio companies, Toncheng Network and eLong, agreed to merge as Tongcheng-eLong.[xxiv] According to Ctrip’s press release, Ctrip and Tencent planned to act as strategic major shareholders of the company, and the merger will enable the new company to provide wider traveler coverage and deliver greater online travel services and products while benefiting from significant traffic via Tencent’s WeChat and Mobile QQ platforms.[xxv]

The synergistic relationship between Baidu’s Ctrip and Tencent is further strengthened by their mutual connection to the Priceline Group. The Priceline Group has been a partner of Ctrip since 2012, and invested $500 million in Ctrip via convertible bonds in 2015.[xxvi] Tencent is a major backer of Meituan-Dianping, a startup operating a wide variety of business including delivery, local business reviews, and discounted group-buy (similar to Groupon).[xxvii] Meituan-Dianping launched its travel service Meituan Travel in 2017.[xxviii] Following the launch of Meituan Travel, Priceline became a backer of Meituan-Dianping, and Meituan Travel entered into a partnership agreement with Priceline’s Agoda.com. [xxix]

Online Lodging Booking: The Turf of Baidu and Tencent

2016 Chinese Online Lodging Market Share (by Trade Volume). Source: iResearch [xxxi]

This network of interests between Baidu, Ctrip, and Tencent represents a significant challenge to Fliggy’s attempt to grow in the Chinese OTA market, especially when it comes to online hotel bookings. According to a study by the Chinese consulting group iResearch, the various OTA portals operated by Ctrip, Tencent and their affliates occupies an overwhelming majority of the online lodging booking market. The combination of Ctrip, Qunar, Meituan, eLong, and Toncheng corresponds to 94.1% of the total trade volume in term of online lodging bookings.[xxx] The report did not specify the market share of Fliggy, and instead includes it in the category “Other,” which represents a total of 2.5% of total online lodging bookings.

Fliggy is at a disadvantage in the Chinese OTA market against the combined forces of Baidu, Ctrip, and Tencent.

 

[i] Bloomberg (2017, June 27th), Tech Titans in China Take Their Battle to a New Frontier, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-27/china-s-tech-titans-take-their-battle-to-a-new-frontier-travel

[ii] iResearch, 2017年中国在线旅游度假行业研究报告, p. 20, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://report.iresearch.cn/report_pdf.aspx?id=3025

[iii] Investopedia, Baidu Vs. Google: How Are They Different?, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/051215/baidu-vs-google-how-are-they-different.asp

[iv] Statcounter, Search Engine Market Share China: Mar 2017 – Mar 2018, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share/all/china

[v] Investopedia, Understanding Alibaba’s Business Model, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/062315/understanding-alibabas-business-model.asp

[vi] The Sydney Morning Herald (2017, August 27th), ‘Amazon of China’ Alibaba already has supermarkets. Now it wants our food, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/alibaba-already-has-supermarkets-now-it-wants-our-food-20170825-gy4aqf.html

[vii] Bloomberg (2017, November 21st), Tencent’s $292 Billion Rally Ousts Facebook From Global Top Five, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-21/tencent-s-292-billion-rally-ousts-facebook-from-global-top-five

[viii] The Economist (2017, April 20th), China’s internet giants go global, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.economist.com/news/business/21721203-tencent-leading-acquisition-spree-alibaba-close-second-chinas-internet-giants-go

[ix] Bloomberg (2017, May 25th), Alibaba to Lead $1 Billion Funding for Chinese Food Startup, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-25/alibaba-said-to-lead-1-billion-funding-for-chinese-food-startup

[x] Bloomberg (2017, April 26th), Chinese Bike Wars Drive Didi, Tencent Into Rival Camps, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-27/china-s-bike-wars-escalate-as-didi-throws-weight-behind-ofo

[xi] Bloomberg (2017, October 25th), China’s Uber-for-Trucks Apps Trade Barbs as Battle Turns Toxic, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-25/china-s-uber-for-trucks-apps-trade-barbs-as-battle-turns-toxic

[xii] Bloomberg (2017, October 25th), China’s Uber-for-Trucks Apps Trade Barbs as Battle Turns Toxic, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-25/china-s-uber-for-trucks-apps-trade-barbs-as-battle-turns-toxic

[xiii] Quartz (2014, June 16th), Alibaba has a new way of explaining its controversial Alipay spinoff, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://qz.com/221635/alibaba-has-a-new-way-of-explaining-its-controversial-alipay-spinoff/

[xiv] Technode (2017, August 18), Alipay vs WeChat: Challenges and strategies of two payment giants going global, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://technode.com/2017/08/18/alipay-vs-wechat-challenges-and-strategies-of-two-payment-giants-going-global/

[xv] TechInAsia (2014, April 16th), Baidu dives into China’s mobile payments war, jabs Alibaba with launch of Baidu Wallet, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.techinasia.com/baidu-dives-into-chinas-mobile-payments-war-jabs-alibaba-with-the-launch-of-baidu-wallet

[xvi] CBInsights (2017, May 19th), Nearly Half Of China’s Unicorns Backed By Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Or JD.com, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/asian-unicorns-baidu-alibaba-tencent-jd-investors/

[xvii] JD.com, FORM 20-F (Fiscal Year 2016), retrieved April 25th, 2018, p.12,

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1549802/000110465917028187/a17-4445_120f.htm

[xviii] The Wall Street Journal (2014, March 10th), Tencent Buys Into JD.com, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/tencent-to-take-about-15-stake-in-jd-com-1394415548

[xix] The Economist (2017, April 20th), China’s internet giants go global, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.economist.com/news/business/21721203-tencent-leading-acquisition-spree-alibaba-close-second-chinas-internet-giants-go

[xx] Ctrip.com, FORM 20-F (Fiscal Year 2016), p.67, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9Mzc0Mjg2fENoaWxkSUQ9LTF8VHlwZT0z&t=1&cb=636277375345954893

[xxi] Thomas Cook (2017, September 17th), THOMAS COOK CHINA STRATEGY UPDATE, pp. 4 and 15, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.thomascookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Thomas-Cook-China_Morgan-Stanley-Investor-Trip_19.09.17_v-FINAL.pdf

[xxii] China Daily (2017, March 3rd), Ctrip CEO says acquisitions starting to pay off, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-03/03/content_28415728.htm

[xxiii] China Daily (2017, March 3rd), Ctrip CEO says acquisitions starting to pay off, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-03/03/content_28415728.htm

[xxiv] Ctrip.com International (2017, December 29th), Ctrip’s Invested Companies, eLong and Tongcheng Network, Announce Agreement to Merge, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ctrips-invested-companies-elong-and-tongcheng-network-announce-agreement-to-merge-300576010.html

[xxv] Ctrip.com International (2017, December 29th), Ctrip’s Invested Companies, eLong and Tongcheng Network, Announce Agreement to Merge, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ctrips-invested-companies-elong-and-tongcheng-network-announce-agreement-to-merge-300576010.html

[xxvi] Ctrip.com International (2015, December 10th), Ctrip Announces Investment by The Priceline Group and a Long-Term Equity Investment Firm, retrieved May 2nd, 2018, http://ir.ctrip.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=148903&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2121699

[xxvii] Bloomberg (2017, October 19th), This Little-Known Startup Just Hit a Valuation of $30 Billion, retrieved April 25th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-19/china-s-meituan-raises-4-billion-at-30-billion-valuation

[xxviii] Meituan-Dianping (2017, May 22nd), Meituan-Dianping Cements Its Market Leading Position in the Travel and Leisure Industry with the Official Launch of Meituan Travel, retrieved May 2nd, 2018, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/meituan-dianping-cements-its-market-leading-position-in-the-travel-and-leisure-industry-with-the-official-launch-of-meituan-travel-300461260.html

[xxix] Tnooz (2017, October 19th), Priceline Group hedges its Chinese bets with Meituan Travel tie-up, retrieved Aril 25th, 2018, https://www.tnooz.com/article/priceline-group-hedges-its-chinese-bets-with-meituan-travel-tie-up/

[xxx] iResearch, 2017年中国在线旅游度假行业研究报告, p. 20, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://report.iresearch.cn/report_pdf.aspx?id=3025

[xxxi] iResearch, 2017年中国在线旅游度假行业研究报告, p. 20, retrieved April 25th, 2018, http://report.iresearch.cn/report_pdf.aspx?id=3025

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. The joint venture would market Marriott to Alibaba’s Chinese customer base, and Alibaba would eventually run Marriott’s Chinese-language websites and apps.[i] [ii] Coverage in Western media outlets touted how the deal could enable Marriott to reach millions of Chinese travelers.[iii] [iv] [v] [vi] Marriott’s stock shot up 1.1% on the news.[vii]

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. Ctrip held what has been described as a “near monopoly.”[viii] [ix] A report by Thomas Cook in September 2017 estimated Ctrip’s share of the online travel market at 65%, compared to Fliggy’s 15%.[x] Ctrip had inked an agreement with Marriott with similar features to the deal with Alibaba. However, the relationship between Marriott and Ctrip was unraveling at the time of the Alibaba deal, and would conclude only a few months later.

Despite the positive coverage, it is not clear if the Alibaba deal represented a step forward for Marriott, or a step back.

Marriott-Ctrip relationship unraveled after revelation of price disparity

In October 2010, Marriott and Ctrip signed an agreement that made Ctrip Marriott’s first online travel agency partner in China. The deal enabled Chinese travelers booking hotels through Ctrip to receive the same specials and rates found on Marriott.com.[xi] The agreement was expanded in 2012 with the announcement of a joint reward program between Marriott and Ctrip.[xii]

But in June 2017, users of the Chinese social media platform Weibo reported that Ctrip had downranked all of Marriott’s properties, which meant that Marriott hotels were pushed to the bottom of searches.[xiii] Following the report, journalists from scxxb.com.cn [市场信息网] confirmed that on Ctrip’s official app, Marriott’s hotels were ranked last on both Ctrip’s popularity ranking and review score ranking.[xiv]

The Guangzhou-based Time Weekly reported that, prior to the downranking, Marriott had been providing extra rebates for travelers choosing to book from Marriott directly instead of via third parties. The revelation of the price disparity damaged the Marriott-Ctrip relationship and prompted retaliatory actions from Ctrip.[xv]

Marriott announced its deal with Alibaba in August 2017.[xvi] In November 2017, three months after the Marriott-Alibaba deal, the Marriott-Ctrip joint reward program ended.[xvii]

In early April 2018, nearly one year after Ctrip first downranked Marriott hotels, a search for hotels in Shanghai on Ctrip returned no Marriott hotels on the first page.[xviii] Marriott hotels were similarly absent from the Shanghai hotel listing of the Ctrip affiliated travel websites Qunar and eLong.[xix] [xx] In contrast, on Alibaba’s Fliggy, the Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden was ranked number one among all hotels in Shanghai.[xxi]

On the left: Top 10 search results for hotels in Shanghai on Ctrip. On the right: Top 10 search results for hotels in Shanghai on Fliggy

 

After Ctrip Agreement Expiration, Marriott Reliant on Much Smaller Alibaba

What has happened since the Marriott-Ctrip agreement expired?

In January 2018, all of Marriott’s Chinese-language websites were taken offline after Marriott sent an email to Chinese customers listing Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau as countries.[xxii] As of April 16, 2018, Marriott’s Chinese-language webpage still doesn’t have a direct-booking feature; the webpage instead redirects visitors to other booking systems such as Marriott’s Chinese language smartphone app or its international website in English.[xxiii]

The Marriott-Alibaba deal entrusted Marriott’s future Chinese online presence in the partnership with Alibaba. Fliggy was actually Alibaba’s third entry into the online travel business, after two previous companies were rebranded.[xxiv]

The questions that arise after a careful examination of Marriott’s Ctrip experience are:

  • As Marriott seeks to cut the commission fees from online agencies, what will happen to its relationship with Alibaba?[xxv]
  • If Ctrip maintains its dominance over the Chinese online travel market, will Marriott be able to regain its lost market access?

 

[i] Marriott International (2017, August 7th), Alibaba Group and Marriott International Announce Innovative Joint Venture to Redefine Travel Experience, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://news.marriott.com/2017/08/alibaba-group-marriott-international-announce-innovative-joint-venture-redefine-travel-experience/

[ii] Reuters (2017, August 7th), Marriott set to woo Chinese tourists with Alibaba deal, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-alibaba/marriott-set-to-woo-chinese-tourists-with-alibaba-deal-idUSKBN1AN1JN

[iii] Reuters (2017, August 7th), Marriott set to woo Chinese tourists with Alibaba deal, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-alibaba/marriott-set-to-woo-chinese-tourists-with-alibaba-deal-idUSKBN1AN1JN

[iv] Barron’s (2017, August 7th), Alibaba & Marriott Form JV To Tap Millions of Travelers, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.barrons.com/articles/alibaba-marriott-form-jv-to-tap-millions-of-travelers-1502111778

[v] The Wall Street Journal (2017, August 7th), Alibaba, Marriott Team Up to Serve Chinese Tourists Abroad, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/alibaba-marriott-team-up-to-serve-chinese-tourists-abroad-1502103604?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3

[vi] Bloomberg (2017, August 7th), Alibaba, Marriott Will Team Up to Tap a Chinese Tourism Boom, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-07/alibaba-marriott-will-team-up-to-tap-a-chinese-tourism-boom

[vii] Bloomberg (2017, August 7th), Alibaba, Marriott Will Team Up to Tap a Chinese Tourism Boom, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-07/alibaba-marriott-will-team-up-to-tap-a-chinese-tourism-boom

[viii] CNBC (2017, May 10th), Market consolidation allowed China’s Ctrip to realize ‘monopoly power’, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/05/10/market-consolidation-allowed-chinas-ctrip-to-realize-monopoly-power.html

[ix] Economic Times (2017, February 23rd), Chinese travel major Ctrip maps route to become China’s next web giant , retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/internet/chinese-travel-major-ctrip-maps-route-to-become-chinas-next-web-giant/57314196

[x] Thomas Cook (2017, September 17th), THOMAS COOK CHINA STRATEGY UPDATE, pgs. 4 and 15, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.thomascookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Thomas-Cook-China_Morgan-Stanley-Investor-Trip_19.09.17_v-FINAL.pdf

[xi] Bill Marriott (2010, December 22nd), Partnering with Ctrip: China’s Largest Online Travel Booking Website , retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://www.blogs.marriott.com/marriott-on-the-move/2010/12/partnering-with-ctrip-chinas-largest-online-travel-booking-website.html

[xii] Hospitalitynet (2012, March 2nd), Ctrip and Marriott International Take Next Step in Global Partnership, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4055118.html

[xiii] China.com (2017, June 16th), 网曝携程对万豪、洲际等高端酒店排名置底, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://economy.china.com/jykx/news/11179727/20170616/25073963.html

[xiv] China.com (2017, June 16th), 网曝携程对万豪、洲际等高端酒店排名置底, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://economy.china.com/jykx/news/11179727/20170616/25073963.html

[xv] Sina Finance (2017, July 18th), 高端酒店与OTA再角力:万豪壮大直销反击佣金上涨, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://finance.sina.com.cn/roll/2017-07-18/doc-ifyiakwa4302789.shtml

[xvi] Marriott International (2017, August 7th), Alibaba Group and Marriott International Announce Innovative Joint Venture to Redefine Travel Experience, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://news.marriott.com/2017/08/alibaba-group-marriott-international-announce-innovative-joint-venture-redefine-travel-experience/

[xvii] Marriott International, Marriott Rewards and Ctrip Partnership News, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.marriott.com/marriott-rewards/earn/ctrip-partner.mi

[xviii] Ctrip, retrieved April 2nd, 2018, http://www.ctrip.com/

[xix] Qunar, retrieved April 2nd, 2018, https://www.qunar.com/

[xx] eLong, retrieved April 2nd, 2018, http://www.elong.com/

[xxi] Fliggy, retrieved April 2nd, 2018, http://www.fliggy.com/

[xxii] The Wall Street Journal (2018, January 11th), Marriott Makes China Mad With Geopolitical Faux Pas, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/location-location-chinese-officials-slam-marriotts-designation-of-hong-kong-macau-as-countries-1515663854?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=10

[xxiii] Marriott International, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.marriott.com.cn/reservation.html

[xxiv] Jing Daily (2016, October 31st), Alibaba’s Alitrip Rebrand Reveals Big Bet on Chinese Millennial Travelers, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://jingdaily.com/alibaba-abandons-alitrip-brand-and-bets-on-chinese-millennial-travelers-with-new-brand/

[xxv] Reuters (2018, April 3rd), Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO, retrieved April 18th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

Marriott launches a new Chinese online storefront – but still lacks direct booking feature on its own website

Cina Giorno Otto – Shanghai The Bund by Dorli Photography – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In a previous blog post, we reviewed how after the January 2018 incident in which Marriott sent out a customer survey listing Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau as countries separate from China, Marriott complied with a Chinese government request to shut down its Chinese websites and apps. We have also tracked in a separate post the status of Marriott’s Chinese language webpage since the January shutdown.

Marriott’s website directed to a maintenance message on 1/30/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

Although Marriott’s Chinese website (marriott.com.cn) was restored by March, the restored website did not offer a search bar to search for hotel availability, unlike the original version of the site.

On April 18th, 2018, China Daily reported that the joint-venture formed by Marriott and Alibaba, which will be responsible for Marriott’s Chinese-language website, app, and Fliggy storefront (see our post on the Marriott Alibaba deal), planned to launch an exclusive booking portal online in the following week.[1] One week later, on April 27th, 2018, Marriott announced the redesign of Marriott’s Fliggy storefront, marriottcn.fliggy.com.[2]

Marriott’s Fliggy’s storefront was previously under the address marriott.fliggy.com.[3] A search on the Internet Archive shows that marriott.fliggy.com was offline in the aftermath of the January incident, redirecting visitors to an error page on Taobao.com (Taobao is one of Alibaba’s shopping websites).[4] The relaunch of Marriott’s Fliggy storefront came only a week before Marriott’s annual shareholder meeting on May 4th.[5]

Marriott’s former Fliggy storefront unavailable on 3/16/18 (archived by Wayback Machine)[6]

Marriott’s own Chinese-language website does not have a direct booking feature: Chinese customers visiting the site looking to book a hotel room must click on a ‘reservation’ page, which forwards visitors to Marriott’s smartphone app, Fliggy storefront, and English-language international website.[7]

According to Arne Sorenson, the company is seeking to lower the commissions it pays to online travel agencies, starting with Expedia.[8] Yet Marriott’s official Chinese webpage still does not have its own direct-booking portal. Investors of Marriott might want to ask:

  • As Marriott seeks to cut the commission fees to online agencies, what will happen to its relationship with Alibaba? (We will explore this in our future discussion of the Ctrip partnership.)
  • Does this new Fliggy storefront signal that Alibaba has begun – or is on its way towards – taking over Marriott’s Chinese-language websites and app, as CCO Stephanie Linnartz said would eventually happen? [9]

 

[1] China Daily (2018, April 18th), Marriott, Alibaba to launch new booking portal, retrieved April 30th, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201804/18/WS5ad6a8f1a3105cdcf6518fee.html

[2] Marriott Interntional (2018, April 27th), Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers With Enhanced Mobile Functionality And Global Wallet-Free Travel, retrieved April 30th, 2018, http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-elevates-travel-experience-for-chinese-consumers-with-enhanced-mobile-functionality-and-global-wallet-free-travel/

[3] Wayback Machine, August 13th, 2017 Snapshot: marriott.fliggy.com, retrieved April 30th, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170813070528/marriott.fliggy.com/

[4] Wayback Machine, March 16, 2018 Snapshot: marriott.fliggy.com, retrieved April 30th, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20180316121612/marriott.fliggy.com/

[5] Annual Meeting, Marriott Investor Relations, retrieved 4/30/18. https://marriott.gcs-web.com/annual-meeting

[6] Wayback Machine, March 16, 2018 Snapshot: marriott.fliggy.com, retrieved April 30th, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20180316121612/marriott.fliggy.com/

[7] Marriott International, retrieved April 30th, 2018, http://www.marriott.com.cn/reservation.html

[8] Reuters (2018, April 3rd), Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO, retrieved April 30th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

[9] Reuters (2017, August 7th), Marriott set to woo Chinese tourists with Alibaba deal, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-alibaba/marriott-set-to-woo-chinese-tourists-with-alibaba-deal-idUSKBN1AN1JN

What deal did Marriott make with Alibaba? An Explainer

(East Nanjing Pedestrian Shopping Street by David Leo Veksler – CC BY 2.0)

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.[1]

Western press mentions of the deal have repeated Marriott’s rosy predictions: for example, stories in the Wall Street Journal and hospitality industry outlet Skift only quoted Marriott and Alibaba executives.[2] [3] In this post, we break down what Alibaba is, and explain the components of the deal.

What is Alibaba?

 Alibaba, sometime referred to as the “Amazon of China,” is a Chinese tech conglomerate known for its online retail business.[4] [5] Fliggy, previously known as Alitrip, is Alibaba’s online travel platform. Fliggy was Alibaba’s third attempt to break into the Chinese online travel market.[6] The e-commerce giant’s other holdings included the Youtube-like Youkou, the South China Morning Post, one of Hong Kong’s most influential English language newspapers, and a major investment in social media service Sina Weibo, often referred to as the Twitter of China. [7] [8] [9]

The company also created the payment system Alipay in 2004, which was later spun-off into a separate entity named Ant Financial.[10] [11] Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, held 46% of Ant Financial and had voting rights on its board.[12] [13]

Joint Venture to Manage Marriott’s Chinese Web Presence

The Marriott and Alibaba deal created a joint venture responsible for operating Marriott’s flagship store on Fliggy.[14] Alibaba will eventually run Marriott’s Chinese-language websites and apps, according to Marriott’s Chief Commercial Officer.[15] As part of the deal, Marriott and Fliggy also launched a promotional shared reward program.[16]

This is not the first time that Marriott has established a shared reward program with a major OTA company in China. In 2012, Marriott announced a joint reward program with Ctrip, the largest Chinese OTA platform; the program expired in November 2017, three months after the Marriott-Alibaba deal.[17] [18] [19] The story of Marriott’s partnership with Ctrip, and its dissolution, will be discussed in a future blog post.

In January 2018, Marriott shut down its Chinese language websites on the order of government authorities after a survey listed Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Macau as countries separate from China.[20] (See our post explaining the fallout from this incident.) The survey had been prepared by a vendor from Canada.[21] As of April 16, 2018, Marriott’s Chinese-language webpage still doesn’t have a direct-booking feature; the webpage instead redirects visitors to other booking systems such as Marriott’s Chinese language smartphone app or its international website in English.[22]

Marriott announced that the joint venture would put an exclusive booking portal online the week of April 23rd, 2018.[23]

Marriott Hotels to Accept Alipay

A key piece of the deal is the roll-out of mobile payment system Alipay in select Marriott Hotels in the Asia-Pacific region. Marriott began accepting payment via Alipay in September 2015 at a small number of hotels in China.[24] Following the deal, Marriott has expanded acceptance of Alipay to more hotels across Asia.[25]

In January 2018, Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial issued an apology after it came under criticism within China for how it handled users’ data.[26] The controversy within China arose in January 2018 after users said they felt misled into allowing its Alipay service to share data on their spending habits with Ant’s credit-scoring arm and other third-party services.[27] A future post will cover this and other public incidents related to Alibaba’s handling of user data.

Alipay’s largest competitor is WeChat Pay, owned by the tech giant Tencent.[28]

Is the Alibaba deal an unqualified boon for Marriott?

Despite the laudatory press coverage, questions remain about the value of this deal to Marriott.

  • Why did Marriott decide to forgo its shared reward program with Ctrip for Fliggy?
  • How will Alipay’s customer trust controversy affect Marriott?
  • How will the Marriott-Alibaba relationship evolve, given Marriott’s dependence on its joint-venture with its OTA partner Fliggy for its Chinese web-presence?

 

[1] Marriott International (2017, August 7th), Alibaba Group and Marriott International Announce Innovative Joint Venture to Redefine Travel Experience, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://news.marriott.com/2017/08/alibaba-group-marriott-international-announce-innovative-joint-venture-redefine-travel-experience/

[2] The Wall Street Journal (2017, August 7th), Alibaba, Marriott Team Up to Serve Chinese Tourists Abroad, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/alibaba-marriott-team-up-to-serve-chinese-tourists-abroad-1502103604?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3

[3] Skift (2017, August 7th), Marriott Partners With Alibaba to Court the Chinese Travel Market Even More, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://skift.com/2017/08/07/marriott-partners-with-alibaba-to-court-the-chinese-travel-market-even-more/

[4] China Daily (2016, April 6th), Alibaba becomes the world’s largest retailer, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/tech/2016-04/06/content_24315726.htm

[5] The Sydney Morning Herald (2017, August 27th), ‘Amazon of China’ Alibaba already has supermarkets. Now it wants our food, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/alibaba-already-has-supermarkets-now-it-wants-our-food-20170825-gy4aqf.html

[6] Jing Daily (2016, October 31st), Alibaba’s Alitrip Rebrand Reveals Big Bet on Chinese Millennial Travelers, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://jingdaily.com/alibaba-abandons-alitrip-brand-and-bets-on-chinese-millennial-travelers-with-new-brand/

[7] TechCrunch (2018, April 19th), Report: Smartphone usage set to overtake time spent watching TV in China, retrieved April 24th, 2018, https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/19/report-smartphone-usage-set-to-overtake-time-spent-watching-tv-in-china/

[8] TechCrunch (2016, April 6th), Alibaba completes SCMP acquisition and removes the paper’s online paywall, retrieved April 24th, 2018, https://techcrunch.com/2016/04/05/alibaba-completes-scmp-acquisition-and-removes-the-papers-online-paywall/

[9] The New York Time (2013, April 29th), Alibaba pushes into social networking with Weibo investment, retrieved April 24th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/net-us-sinaweibo-alibaba-stake/alibaba-pushes-into-social-networking-with-weibo-investment-idUSBRE93S0DA20130429

[10] Quartz (2014, June 16th), Alibaba has a new way of explaining its controversial Alipay spinoff, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://qz.com/221635/alibaba-has-a-new-way-of-explaining-its-controversial-alipay-spinoff/

[11] Nikkei Asian Review (2018, February 8th), Alibaba to buy 33% of spinoff Ant Financial, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/AC/Alibaba-to-buy-33-of-spinoff-Ant-Financial

[12] Quartz (2014, June 16th), Alibaba has a new way of explaining its controversial Alipay spinoff, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://qz.com/221635/alibaba-has-a-new-way-of-explaining-its-controversial-alipay-spinoff/

[13] Quartz (2016, April 26th), Alibaba’s financial spinoff is now the world’s most valuable private internet company, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://qz.com/670303/alibabas-spinoff-financial-service-company-is-now-worth-as-much-as-uber/

[14] USA Today (2017, August 7th), Marriott, Alibaba partner to run Chinese travel site, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/07/marriott-alibaba-partner-run-chinese-travel-site/544578001/

[15] Reuters (2017, August 7th), Marriott set to woo Chinese tourists with Alibaba deal, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-alibaba/marriott-set-to-woo-chinese-tourists-with-alibaba-deal-idUSKBN1AN1JN

[16] Taobao, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://market.m.taobao.com/markets/h5/Marriott/Fliggy/BABA/rule

[17] Xinhua (May 11th, 2017), Chinese OTA giant Ctrip reports strong Q1 financial performance, retrieved April 18, 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/11/c_136273985.htm.

[18] Hospitalitynet (2012, March 2nd), Ctrip and Marriott International Take Next Step in Global Partnership, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4055118.html

[19] Marriott International, Marriott Rewards and Ctrip Partnership News, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.marriott.com/marriott-rewards/earn/ctrip-partner.mi

[20] The Washington Post (2018, January 18th), China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied., retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.9130627011db

[21] The Wall Street Journal (2018, March 3rd), Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910

[22] Internet Archive, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.marriott.com.cn/

[23] Xu Junqian, “Marriott, Alibaba to launch new booking portal,” China Daily, 4/18/18. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201804/18/WS5ad6a8f1a3105cdcf6518fee.html.

[24] Marriott International (2015, September 7th), Marriott International Welcomes Chinese Travelers with Alipay, retrieved April17th, 2018, http://news.marriott.com/2015/09/marriott-international-welcomes-chinese-travelers-with-alipay/

[25] Marriott International, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://marriottrewardsapac.com/en/benefit/alipay

[26] South China Morning Post (2018, January 4th), Alibaba’s payments affiliate apologises for opting in users for credit scoring system, retrieved April 18th, 2018, http://www.scmp.com/tech/china-tech/article/2126772/chinas-ant-financial-apologises-over-alipay-user-data-gaffe

[27] Capital News (2018, January 5th), China’s Alibaba under fire over use of customer data, retrieved April 17th, 2018, https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2018/01/chinas-alibaba-fire-use-customer-data/

[28] South China Morning Post (2018, January 24th), China moves further towards cashless society as payment giants Alipay, WeChat Pay gain ground, retrieved April 17th, 2018, http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2130400/china-moves-further-towards-cashless-society-payment-giants

万豪同意关闭中国网站一周。两个月后,网站重新开放,但缺失了一项关键功能。

2018年1月,一次邮件失误导致万豪被要求向中国政府致歉(我们在前一篇文章中曾探讨过这事件)。万豪遵照政府要求,关闭了其在中国的网站及应用程序。[1] 多家媒体报告称网站将被政府关闭一周。[2]

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。

这两个月当中,中国用户被重新转至一项错误信息

2018年1月11日,万豪的中文官网(www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi)从一个搜索网站被变为了一项错误页面。[3]

 

在被关闭之前,万豪在2018年1月11日的中国网站(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

2018年1月11日显示在万豪中国网站上的错误信息(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

错误页面中包含了万豪所发布的致歉声明:“万豪国际集团尊重中国的主权和领土完整。我们绝不支持任何损害中国主权和领土完整的任何分裂组织。我们对任何可能引起对以上立场误解的行为深刻道歉。”[4]

截止到接下来一周的中期,1月18日,网站重新发布了另一条通知。该信息承诺了网站将于下一周恢复使用。[5]

万豪的网站于2018年1月18日导入此通知(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

超过一周之后,于1月30日,该网站又出现一条新的维护信息:“很抱歉,网站关闭,我们正在努力修正包括搜索辅助功能在内的系统错误,并更新网站,感谢您的耐心。”[6]

万豪网站在2018年1月30日所显示的维护信息(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

万豪中文官网在两个月后恢复上线,但无法直接预订酒店客房

根据从Internet Archive所获得的万豪网站截图,万豪中文官网最早于3月23日开始恢复使用,这是在万豪致歉的两个多月之后。[7]但网站缺失了一项关键功能 – 直接预订酒店客房。

恢复后的官网向访客提供了前往万豪App的链接,万豪奖励微信服务号,以及客服电话。与之前版本不同,该网站并未提供搜索条来搜索酒店空房情况。

该功能的缺失使直接从网站预订变得更为复杂,尽管万豪的既定目标是要向在线旅行机构支付更少的费用。[8]

在4月27日,万豪宣布在飞猪 – 阿里巴巴的旅行服务平台 – 上推出重新设计的店面网页。[9]我们将在另外一帖探讨这一最新网站。

万豪尚未处理网址被关所带来的影响

万豪并未公开表示网址被关的具体时长,也没有在其美国的新闻稿中宣布网站恢复使用。

在2月份的投资者财报电话会议中有人询问了关于中国网站被关的问题, Arne Sorenson称,“我们不认为它对我们的财务业绩造成了一定影响。现在,公平来讲,这取决于我们不会在这方面发生更多错误,我们也在尽全力避免此类事件的发生。”[10] 这一预测是否真实,将会在5月8日万豪发布第一季度业绩报告时见分晓。[11]

 

[1] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[2] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/; Pei Li and Brenda Goh, “Shanghai temporarily closes Marriott website in China after questionnaire gaffe,” Reuters, 1/11/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-marriott/shanghai-temporarily-closes-marriott-website-in-china-after-questionnaire-gaffe-idUSKBN1F00UT; Sofia Lotto Persio, “Marriott China Apology: American Hotel Chain Website Shut Down After Taiwan, Tibet Gaffe,” Newsweek, 1/11/18. http://www.newsweek.com/marriott-hotel-china-apologizes-survey-challenging-beijings-territorial-claims-777763.

[3] Compare the version of the Marriott Chinese website captured earlier on 1/11/18 (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 01:15:04, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111011504/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) to the version captured later that day (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi).

[4] See marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[5] Site notice: marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi, screen capture 1/18/18 @ 01:31:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Marchine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013152/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/18/18 @ 01:32:16, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013216/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi.

[6] Maintenance message: marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi, screen capture 1/30/18 @05:24:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130052452/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/30/18 @ 03:19:49, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130031949/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[7] Restored website: Marriott.com.cn, screen capture 3/23/18 @ 16:34:28, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180323163428/http://www.marriott.com.cn/.

[8] Ankit Ajmera, “Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO,” Reuters, 4/3/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

[9] “Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers With Enhanced Mobile Functionality And Global Wallet-Free Travel,” Marriott News Center, 4/27/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-elevates-travel-experience-for-chinese-consumers-with-enhanced-mobile-functionality-and-global-wallet-free-travel/.

[10] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[11] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

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

(Photo by russell davies via flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

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.[1] Several outlets reported that sites would be shut down by the government for a week.[2]

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.

For two months, Chinese citizens were redirected to an error message

On January 11th, 2018, Marriott’s Chinese website (www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) changed from a searchable site to an error message.[3]

Marriott’s Chinese website on 1/11/18, before the shutdown (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

Error message displayed on Marriott’s Chinese website on 1/11/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

The error message echoed the statement of apology that Marriott had already released: “Marriott International Group respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will absolutely not support any separatist organization that undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We deeply apologize for any possible misunderstanding of the above positions.”[4]

By the middle of the next week, January 18th, the website redirected to another notice. This message promised that the website would return the following week.[5]

Marriott’s website redirected to this notice on 1/18/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

More than a week later, on January 30th, the website redirected to a new maintenance message: “We’re sorry, the site is closed and we’re working hard to fix system errors including search assistance and update the site. Thank you for your patience.”[6]

Marriott’s website directed to a maintenance message on 1/30/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

Marriott’s website returned after two months – without the ability to directly book hotels

Based on the copies of the Marriott website captured by the Internet Archive, the earliest Marriott’s website was restored was March 23rd, more than two months after Marriott’s apology.[7] But the website lacked a key feature – the ability to directly book a hotel room.

The restored website offered visitors a link to the Marriott app, the Marriott Rewards WeChat Service Number, and a telephone number to reach customer service. The website did not offer a search bar to search for hotel availability, unlike the original version of the site.

The inability to make a direct booking through the website is all the more perplexing in light of Marriott’s stated goal of paying less to online travel agents.[8]

On April 27, Marriott announced the launch of a redesigned storefront page on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform.[9] We will take a look at that new website in an upcoming post.

 

Marriott has not addressed the implications of the website shutdown

Marriott did not publicly address the length of the website shutdown, nor announce that it had been restored, in its U.S. press releases.

Asked a question about the Chinese website shutdown on an investor earnings call in February, Arne Sorenson stated, “We don’t expect there to be a measurable impact to our financial results. Now, to be fair, that depends on our not making more mistakes in this space, which we’re doing everything in our power to avoid doing.”[10] Whether this prediction turned out to be true will be revealed on May 8th, when Marriott releases its first quarter earnings results.[11]

 

[1] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[2] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/; Pei Li and Brenda Goh, “Shanghai temporarily closes Marriott website in China after questionnaire gaffe,” Reuters, 1/11/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-marriott/shanghai-temporarily-closes-marriott-website-in-china-after-questionnaire-gaffe-idUSKBN1F00UT; Sofia Lotto Persio, “Marriott China Apology: American Hotel Chain Website Shut Down After Taiwan, Tibet Gaffe,” Newsweek, 1/11/18. http://www.newsweek.com/marriott-hotel-china-apologizes-survey-challenging-beijings-territorial-claims-777763.

[3] Compare the version of the Marriott Chinese website captured earlier on 1/11/18 (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 01:15:04, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111011504/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) to the version captured later that day (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi).

[4] See marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[5] Site notice: marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi, screen capture 1/18/18 @ 01:31:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Marchine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013152/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/18/18 @ 01:32:16, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013216/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi.

[6] Maintenance message: marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi, screen capture 1/30/18 @05:24:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130052452/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/30/18 @ 03:19:49, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130031949/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[7] Restored website: Marriott.com.cn, screen capture 3/23/18 @ 16:34:28, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180323163428/http://www.marriott.com.cn/.

[8] Ankit Ajmera, “Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO,” Reuters, 4/3/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

[9] “Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers With Enhanced Mobile Functionality And Global Wallet-Free Travel,” Marriott News Center, 4/27/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-elevates-travel-experience-for-chinese-consumers-with-enhanced-mobile-functionality-and-global-wallet-free-travel/.

[10] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[11] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

一封邮件,一个点赞,万豪在中国引发轩然大波,陷入中美舆论当口

 

在今年1月份,万豪在中国引起轩然大波。 中国舆论集体声讨该公司,政府监管机构也暂时关闭了他们的网站和应用程序。

这场冲突的根源很简单 – 一封电子邮件和一个Twitter “点赞”,所涉邮件和点赞内容显示万豪对中国主权和领土完整的立场有异议。

该事件是万豪在中国所面临障碍的一个缩影。 在中国,文化能力是关键。 但是,万豪的道歉和整改步骤却引发了美国中国评论人士的激烈反对。展望未来,万豪能否避免类似事件的发生? 万豪会因为中美两国舆论和政府需求的冲突而受束缚吗?

万豪做了什么引起中国舆论哗然?

2018年1月,万豪向中国客户发送了一封电子邮件调查。 问卷调查中有个问题把台湾,西藏,香港和澳门列成独立的国家。[i] 中国外交部明确指出,“一个中国原则”是不可协商的,任何试图破坏这一原则的人都将面临来自中国政府和广泛人民群众的强烈反对。[ii]

调查问卷问题曝光后,中国政府有力地进行了抨击。外交部发言人陆康在记者招待会上表示:“中国欢迎外资企业入华投资,在华外企应该在遵守中国法律的前提下,尊重中国主权,领土完整,并尊重中国人民民族情感。这是任何公司在任何国家开展业务的基础。”[iii] 中国网民在中国各大社交媒体上呼吁对万豪的抵制。[iv]

一个名为 “西藏之友” 的 藏独组织在其Twitter账号发了一条贴文,庆贺了万豪酒店集团把西藏列为“国家”的行为。[v] 万豪官方推特账号为此贴文进行了点赞,令情况更趋复杂。由中国共产党运营的青年团体-共产主义青年团,通过微博发布了万豪的Twitter动态。[vi]

万豪的回应:官方道歉和开除‘犯事’的低层员工

万豪决定遵守中国政府的请求,关闭了其在中国的网站和App。[vii] 公司表示,在此解决问题期间,已主动暂停在其全球社交媒体帐户上的内容发布。首席执行官阿恩·索伦森Arne Sorenson发布了 一份措辞谦卑的公开道歉信,内注,“万豪国际一贯尊重并支持中国的主权及领土完整…我们绝不支持任何蓄意颠覆中国主权及领土完整的行为,我们也绝不会以任何形式鼓励和煽动这类组织和个人,我们深刻意识到事态的严重性,并在此为伤害了中国人民的感情而诚恳致歉。”[ix]

万豪总裁兼亚太区董事总经理Craig Smith承认情况的严重性:“这是一个巨大的错误,亦可能是我职业生涯中最大的错误。”万豪宣布了八点整改措施,其中包括在全球范围内加强员工有关中国的培训和教育;为中国客户建立直接的投诉渠道;将更加从严把关针对中国市场项目的第三方机构的工作。[x]

万豪对问卷调查问题和 Twitter “点赞”行为作出了相应处罚。 终止了负责问卷调查的承包商的合约。[xi] 开除对推特点赞的底层员工Nebraskan Roy Jones。 琼斯后来表示,他从来没有接受关于如何处理可能激怒中国政府的问题的培训。在被他的高层领导注意之前,那惹恼中国群众的Twitter点赞存在了近乎一天。[xii]

万豪后来从旗下一家中国酒店的大堂里移除了一本颇有争议的展示书,书名为 “Bloody Harvest: the Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs,”,该书是根据加拿大前议员David Kilgour和人权律师David Matas的研究报告撰写的。[xiii]

美国境内所受抨击

虽然万豪在中国遭遇强烈抵制,公司同时也招致来自美国境内的谴责。各方权威人士利用此事件抨击中国,并将万豪贬示为演技很差的演员。

威尔逊中心基辛格中国与美国研究所所长Robert Daly表示,史密斯的道歉具有危险性:“斯密斯如此卑微的道歉或成未来北京方面要求所有对中国未来冒犯者回应的标杆” [xiv]

加利福尼亚州圣克拉拉大学高科技法律研究所的联席主Eric Goldman表达了对开除点赞推特员工的担忧:“如果这是他所采取的首举措施,那么将是万豪为讨好中国,来牺牲员工的实证。[xv]

对万豪在美或最引人瞩目的批评者来自参议员马可鲁比奥(Marco Rubio),他在推文中说:“万豪可是中国的一把好手。 他们可以让一个“美国”公司在美国解雇美国工人” [xvi]

两头为难的万豪

在这一令人尴尬的事件发生之后,万豪发现自己陷入中美舆论两难处境,万豪倚靠中国舆论来发展其在中国的业务,而美国舆论则强烈谴责其承认中国的政治敏感性。

随着特朗普总统与中国在贸易问题上不断升级的紧张关系,这样的事件所带来的潜在后果可能会更大。

Arne Sorenson告诉投资者,他预计该事件不会对万豪的财务业绩有可量影响。[xvii] 该预测是否真实将在万豪发布了该公司的第一季度财报的5月8日揭晓。[xviii]

关于万豪对此事件的处理,投资者应提出下面这些问题:

  • 万豪在中国未来的发展走向是什么? 他们可以重获新生吗?
  • 在美国,万豪是否因其过度的道歉而蒙受风险?
  • 万豪是否考虑过雇佣第三方与中国沟通带来的风险吗?
  • 万豪在1月份宣布的整改措施是否能被落实?

 

[i] Teddy Ng, “Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group,” South China Morning Post, 1/13/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2128124/marriott-sacks-employee-who-liked-twitter-post-tibet-independence.

[ii] Nomaan Merchant, “‘One China principle’ not negotiable, China tells Trump,” AP News, 1/16/17. https://apnews.com/37f0637a4661475bb61a47b0a77b423b.

[iii] “Foreign enterprises should respect China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity: FM,” China Daily, 1/12/18. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/12/WS5a5898afa3102c394518ee88.html.

[iv] “Chinese netizens urge boycott of Marriott for calling Tibet a ‘country’,” Global Times, 1/9/18. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083995.shtml

[v] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/.

[vi] “Chinese probe into Marriott hotels over geography gaffe in customer survey,” South China Morning Post, 1/11/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2127800/chinese-probe-marriott-hotels-over-geography-gaffe.

[vii] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[viii] Dani Deahl, “Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban,” The Verge, 1/18/18. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/18/16906206/marriott-social-media-shut-down-china-territories-countries-survey

[ix] Arne Sorenson, “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center, 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[x] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[xi] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xii] Matthew Hansen, “Omaha man ‘liked’ a tweet, and then he lost his dream job,” Omaha World-Herald, 3/21/18. http://www.omaha.com/columnists/hansen/hansen-omaha-man-liked-a-tweet-and-then-he-lost/article_74b9021a-3753-5b33-b096-f0af3c8372d6.html.

[xiii] “Marriott Pulls Banned ‘Books’ From China Hotel to Avert Backlash,” Bloomberg News, 1/16/18. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/marriott-pulls-banned-books-from-china-hotel-to-avert-backlash.

[xiv] Abha Bhattarai and Steven Mufson, “Marriott and other firms bow to China to protect business interests,” Washington Post, 1/19/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/marriott-and-other-firms-bow-to-china-to-protect-business-interests-there/2018/01/19/af797a98-fb98-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.59847e6e533e

[xv] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xvi] Marco Rubio (@marcorubio), “An American worker was fired by @Marriott for accidentally “liking” a tweet about #Tibet after pressure came from #China communist government. This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America,” Twitter, 3/25/18, 7.31 AM.  https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/977915812890759169.

[xvii] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[xviii] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

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

(chinese simplified pinyin azerty 0059 by Marcin Wichary – CC BY 2.0)

 

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.

This incident represents a microcosm of the obstacles that Marriott faces in China.  In China, cultural competency is key. But Marriott’s apology and rectification steps sparked a backlash from critics of China in the U.S. Going forward, will Marriott be able to avoid similar incidents? And will Marriott be hemmed in by the conflicting demands of public opinion and governmental demands in China and the U.S.?

What did Marriott do to roil Chinese public opinion?

In January 2018, Marriott sent an email survey to Chinese customers. A question on the survey listed Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau as countries separate from China.[i] China’s Foreign Ministry has made it clear that the ‘one-China principle’ – that the government in Beijing is China’s sole legitimate government – is non-negotiable, and that anyone who attempts to undermine this principle will face broad and strong opposition from the Chinese government and people.[ii]

The Chinese government forcefully pushed back. After the survey question came to light, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs, stated at a press conference, “We welcome foreign enterprises to do business in China. Meanwhile, they should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by Chinese law, and respect the Chinese peoples’ feelings, which are the foundation for any corporation to do business in any country.”[iii] Chinese netizens called for boycotts against Marriott on Chinese social media platforms.[iv]

The furor escalated after “Friends of Tibet”, a pro-Tibetan independence group, congratulated Marriott on Twitter for listing Tibet as a country. An official Marriott Twitter channel ‘liked’ the post, compounding the situation.[v] The Communist Youth League, a youth group run by the Chinese Communist Party, posted about Marriott’s action from their official account on Weibo, China’s popular Twitter-like platform.[vi]

Marriott’s response: official apology and termination of low-level employee

Marriott complied with a Chinese government request to shut down its websites and apps in the country.[vii] The company stated that it proactively suspended posting on its global social media accounts while it dealt with the matter.[viii] CEO Arne Sorenson issued an abject public apology that noted, “Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China…we don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize.”[ix]

Marriott’s president and managing director for Asia-Pacific Craig Smith acknowledged the severity of the situation: “This is a huge mistake, probably the biggest of my career.” Marriott announced an eight point ‘rectification plan’, which steps included expanding employee education globally, creating straightforward complaint channels for Chinese customers, and more strictly supervising the work of third-party agents for projects largely targeting the China market.[x]

Marriott meted out consequences for both the survey and the Twitter ‘like’. The contractor that put together the survey was terminated.[xi] The low-level employee who liked the Twitter post, Nebraskan Roy Jones, was fired. Jones later stated that he had received zero training on how to handle issues that might inflame the Chinese government, and that the offending tweet was liked for nearly a day before anyone above him noticed.[xii]

Marriott later removed a display book from the lobby of one of its China hotels. The controversial book, entitled “Bloody Harvest: the Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs,” was based on a research report by former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas.[xiii]

Backlash in the United States

While Marriott faced a backlash in China, it also received withering criticism in the U.S. Pundits used the incident to criticize China, and exemplified Marriott as a bad actor.

Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, said that Smith’s apology was dangerous: “His apology is so abject that it could well become a standard which Beijing requires all future offenders of China to meet.”[xiv]

Eric Goldman, co-director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University in California, expressed concern about the termination of the employee who liked the offensive tweet: “If this were his first strike, the employee effectively is a sacrifice to try to get Marriott back in the good graces of China.”[xv]

Perhaps the most high-profile critique of Marriott in the U.S. came from Senator Marco Rubio, who said in a tweet, “This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America.”[xvi]

Marriott caught in the middle

In the wake of this embarrassing episode, Marriott found itself caught between Chinese public opinion, which it relied on to grow its business in China, and a backlash in the U.S., which condemned the company for acknowledging Chinese political sensitivities.

With President Trump escalating tensions with China over trade, the potential consequences for incidents like this could be greater.

Arne Sorenson told investors that he didn’t expect there to be a measurable impact to Marriott’s financial results after the incident.[xvii] Whether that prediction turns out to be true will be revealed on May 8th, when Marriott releases its earnings results for the first quarter.[xviii]

Investors should be asking questions of Marriott about its handling of this incident.

  • What is Marriott’s path forward in China? Can they reclaim lost ground?
  • Has Marriott incurred risk in the U.S. by its over-the-top apologies?
  • Since the survey was put together by a contractor, has Marriott considered the risks posed by using third parties as part of its communications to China?
  • Have the rectification steps that Marriott announced in January been implemented?

 

[i] Teddy Ng, “Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group,” South China Morning Post, 1/13/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2128124/marriott-sacks-employee-who-liked-twitter-post-tibet-independence.

[ii] Nomaan Merchant, “‘One China principle’ not negotiable, China tells Trump,” AP News, 1/16/17. https://apnews.com/37f0637a4661475bb61a47b0a77b423b.

[iii] “Foreign enterprises should respect China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity: FM,” China Daily, 1/12/18. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/12/WS5a5898afa3102c394518ee88.html.

[iv] “Chinese netizens urge boycott of Marriott for calling Tibet a ‘country’,” Global Times, 1/9/18. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083995.shtml

[v] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/.

[vi] “Chinese probe into Marriott hotels over geography gaffe in customer survey,” South China Morning Post, 1/11/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2127800/chinese-probe-marriott-hotels-over-geography-gaffe.

[vii] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[viii] Dani Deahl, “Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban,” The Verge, 1/18/18. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/18/16906206/marriott-social-media-shut-down-china-territories-countries-survey

[ix] Arne Sorenson, “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center, 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[x] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[xi] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xii] Matthew Hansen, “Omaha man ‘liked’ a tweet, and then he lost his dream job,” Omaha World-Herald, 3/21/18. http://www.omaha.com/columnists/hansen/hansen-omaha-man-liked-a-tweet-and-then-he-lost/article_74b9021a-3753-5b33-b096-f0af3c8372d6.html.

[xiii] “Marriott Pulls Banned ‘Books’ From China Hotel to Avert Backlash,” Bloomberg News, 1/16/18. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/marriott-pulls-banned-books-from-china-hotel-to-avert-backlash.

[xiv] Abha Bhattarai and Steven Mufson, “Marriott and other firms bow to China to protect business interests,” Washington Post, 1/19/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/marriott-and-other-firms-bow-to-china-to-protect-business-interests-there/2018/01/19/af797a98-fb98-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.59847e6e533e

[xv] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xvi] Marco Rubio (@marcorubio), “An American worker was fired by @Marriott for accidentally “liking” a tweet about #Tibet after pressure came from #China communist government. This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America,” Twitter, 3/25/18, 7.31 AM.  https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/977915812890759169.

[xvii] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[xviii] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

隆重推出万豪中国观察网

图片由 Przemek Pietrak / globalquiz.org 通过Flickr提供  – CC BY 3.0

 

欢迎来到万豪中国观察网。本网站提供了对万豪国际在全球第二大经济体–中国的活动所进行的研究与分析。

 

如果您是万豪国际的投资者,万豪股票的分析师,或者您是一名国际商务观察员,您已经知道中国是全球旅游行业的关键市场:中国是国际旅游业的全球最大消费体,并预计会持续增长。[1] 根据 Lodging Econometrics,中国承担了全球酒店发展计划的20%。[2]

 

万豪在中国的发展足迹是吸引国内外中国游客的关键。万豪亚太区总裁 Craig Smith称:“在中国扩张的一项重要目标是让中国游客熟知万怡、万豪以及我们的品牌” 。[3] 通过收购喜达屋,万豪在大中华区得到了广泛扩张–该交易使万豪的酒店数提高了170%,增加至264家。[4]

 

该网站对万豪在中国的发展信息进行调查和分析,通过密切关注万豪的国内合作伙伴、观察中文媒体、查阅公司的计划与承诺,并与实际体验进行对比。

 

万豪在中国押下重注,现已深陷困境?

 

万豪已在中国押下重注,是公司除美国外最大的单独市场。[5] 在2017年末,万豪已在中国共拥有约10万间客房,并计划在中国另建87,400间客房 — 这占万豪全球发展计划新建总客房数的19%。[6]

 

作为全球酒店公司,万豪深知中国对公司未来起到的关键作用。在2016年,万豪亚太区总裁及董事总经理Craig Smith报告称:中国是万豪的第二大全球资源市场,并预计未来几年内会跃居第一。[7]

 

万豪对中国市场重要性的分析似乎很合理,但公司在实现对中国市场的雄心壮志的过程中遇到了一些意想不到的挫折。

 

在万豪将台湾、西藏、香港和澳门列为中国之外的国家这一事件之后,中国网络管理局要求万豪暂时关闭面向中国用户的网站和手机App。[8]  万豪在事件发生之后发布了致歉声明,表达公司对中国的依赖性:“作为一家公司,我们非常珍重我们能够有机会服务全球宾客—尤其是我们已经参与了30多年的中国市场。” [9]

 

Craig Smith 对此事件表示:“这是一次很严重的错误,很可能是我职业生涯中最重大的一个。” [10]

 

错误造成了后续影响。(在我们的下一篇发布中,我们将深入探究该事件,以及对万豪的影响。)

 

投资者们应了解万豪在中国面临哪些风险

 

该“错误”的发生正值中美在国际贸易间的关系日趋紧张,最终升级为一场贸易战。[11]

 

特别是目前的国际贸易环境,投资者和分析师需要更多信息来评价万豪在全球第二大经济体当中的实力。该网站的目的是帮助回答下列问题:

 

  • 万豪是否有妥当的文化敏感度,来避免发生一月份网站被封的类似事件?
  • 万豪在中国是否与正确的经济伙伴和政治盟友合作?
  • 万豪在中国的合作伙伴对其在中国的业务能力造成哪些风险?
  • 万豪在中国的发展是否足够快速?他们是否在正确的地点发展了合适的品牌?
  • 万豪目前的高层领导能否执行一项政治和文化敏感的发展计划?

 

 

[1] Oliver Smith, “The unstoppable rise of the Chinese traveller – where are they going and what does it mean for overtourism?” The Telegraph, 4/11/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/rise-of-the-chinese-tourist/.

[2] “The Top World Regions and Markets for Hotel Construction,” Lodging Magazine, 3/8/18. http://lodgingmagazine.com/the-top-world-regions-and-markets-for-hotel-construction/.

[3] Shawn Tully, “Why Hotel Giant Marriott Is on an Expansion Binge as It Fends Off Airbnb,” Fortune, 6/14/17. http://fortune.com/2017/06/14/marriott-arne-sorenson-starwood-acquisition-airbnb/.

[4] Shawn Tully, “Why Hotel Giant Marriott Is on an Expansion Binge as It Fends Off Airbnb,” Fortune, 6/14/17. http://fortune.com/2017/06/14/marriott-arne-sorenson-starwood-acquisition-airbnb/.

[5] Sean McCracken, “5 things Marriott’s Sorenson has to say about hotels,” Hotel News Now, 6/20/17. http://hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/146865/5-things-Marriotts-Sorenson-has-to-say-about-hotels.

[6] Marriott had approximately 100,000 rooms in China based on 8% of 1.25 million total global rooms, and approximately 87,400 pipeline rooms in China based on 19% of 460,000 total global pipeline rooms. “Marriott International Marks 2017 as Year of Historic International Expansion,” Marriott News Center (press release), 1/19/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/marriott-international-marks-2017-year-historic-international-expansion/.

[7] Jennifer Lo, “Marriott gets a boost in Asia-Pacific after Starwood deal,” Nikkei Asian Review, 9/24/16. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Marriott-gets-a-boost-in-Asia-Pacific-after-Starwood-deal.

[8] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Makes China Mad With Geopolitical Faux Pas,” Wall Street Journal, 1/11/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/location-location-chinese-officials-slam-marriotts-designation-of-hong-kong-macau-as-countries-1515663854?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=17.

[9] “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center (press release), 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[10] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[11] See Ben Otto et. al., “U.S.-China Trade-War Crossfire Threatens Asia,” Wall Street Journal, 3/27/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-war-crossfire-threatens-asia-1522155657.