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 ( 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,[2]

Marriott’s Fliggy’s storefront was previously under the address[3] A search on the Internet Archive shows that was offline in the aftermath of the January incident, redirecting visitors to an error page on (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,

[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,

[3] Wayback Machine, August 13th, 2017 Snapshot:, retrieved April 30th, 2017,

[4] Wayback Machine, March 16, 2018 Snapshot:, retrieved April 30th, 2017,

[5] Annual Meeting, Marriott Investor Relations, retrieved 4/30/18.

[6] Wayback Machine, March 16, 2018 Snapshot:, retrieved April 30th, 2017,

[7] Marriott International, retrieved April 30th, 2018,

[8] Reuters (2018, April 3rd), Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO, retrieved April 30th, 2018,

[9] Reuters (2017, August 7th), Marriott set to woo Chinese tourists with Alibaba deal, retrieved April 17th, 2018,