The Alibaba Group announced that its online travel business, Taobao Travel (trip.taobao.com) will become an independent business and brand named ‘Alitrip’. Like Taobao Marketplace, Tmall.com and Juhuasuan, ‘Alitrip’ will be another marketplace platform under the Alibaba Group umbrella with a new independent web domain www.alitrip.com. Alitrip will also include booking taxis.
“This initiative is part of our Group’s ‘Live @ Alibaba’ vision to diversify the company’s products and services and become central to the everyday lives of consumers. This independent online travel platform is a logical extension of Alibaba Group’s strategy and we are excited for the opportunity to build Alitrip into a leading platform for China’s online travel sector”, says Li Shaohua, general manager of Alitrip.
Alitrip currently has over 10,000 merchants on its platform providing airplane tickets, vacation packages, hotel booking services, visa application services and tour guide services. This, in combination with Alitrip’s online payment infrastructure and customer protection scheme, differentiates Alitrip from other online travel sites.
Mr. Li also commented, “Traditionally, online travel businesses have always focused on the sales of travel products, while a large unmet demand for travel services remains. We aim to elevate the online travel sector to a higher level through Alitrip’s service offerings.”
Going forward, Alitrip will focus on four strategic areas, among which mobile and service offerings are its top priorities.
The Alitrip mobile app will combine all service functionalities that can be useful while traveling. Apart from easy cancellation of previous bookings, Alitrip customers can also book taxis, as well as set up flight seat preferences, which will automatically choose their preferred seats once tickets are purchased. Alitrip customers can utilize a feature to pre-order and reserve travel products through their Yu’e Bao account, a money market product. The money they use for purchases will remain in their Yu’e Bao account and continue to generate interest until the confirmation of the transactions. Alitrip customers can also check into hotels without using credit cards for payment guarantee, by providing their Alipay account information for automatic fee deduction at the end of their stay.
Hong Kong’s flagship air carrier Cathay Pacific Airlines and Asia’s leading hotel-booking site Agoda.com have signed agreements to join Alitrip. Alitrip will work towards bringing additional leading airlines, travel agents and third-party service providers to join the thousands of merchants already operating on the platform.
In order to provide customers with security and convenience, Alitrip will offer no-questions-asked refunds to consumers for tickets or hotel reservations within one hour. In order to protect consumers’ interests, Alitrip will also operate a RMB100 million consumer protection fund through which refunds can be allocated back to its customers right away. Alitrip will be an integral part of Alibaba Group’s ecosystem, offering a wide range of vacation travel products and services from leading travel service providers.
• Alitrip’s online travel business is a new addition to the Alibaba Group.
Logo source: Alibaba Group.