Marriott International unveils new ride-hailing services for luxury hotels

Updated: 2019-11-23 07:34

(HK Edition)

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Marriott International recently unveiled its new ride-hailing service for luxury hotels under the group, aimed at improving the experience of an increasing number of high-net-worth customers in the Chinese market.

The service is the result of cooperation between the global hospitality group and major Chinese ride-hailing service provider Didi Chuxing, which was announced in Chengdu, Sichuan province in late October.

Didi Luxe - Didi's high-end service arm - will set off on the partnership, starting from Chengdu St. Regis Hotel, one of Marriott's iconic luxury hotel brands.

Marriott is extending St. Regis' signature butler service from rooms to limousine backseats, the company said.

Hong Kong-based Peggy Fang Roe, chief sales and marketing officer of Marriott International Asia Pacific, arrived in the Sichuan capital on a rainy night.

She said she was nicely welcomed in the car, where she had a "very special car ride", finding warmth against the sharply-dropping autumn temperatures, and even locating a QR code that connected her to her butler Jasmine during the ride.

If she explored further, she would have discovered a little bottle of "Chuan Mary" in the car fridge. The alcohol-free cocktail is the hotel's spicy variation of Bloody Mary, the famed cocktail born at King Cole Bar in New York in 1934.

The hotel's butlers also provided bespoke training for the chauffeurs. The ride-hailing services will be available on the Marriott International app and WeChat mini program, and also on the ride-hailing-by-hotel app at hotels for guests who haven't downloaded the applications onto their own smart devices yet.

Marriott International unveils new ride-hailing services for luxury hotels

Minutes after the ride, Jasmine led Fang Roe into a room with custom-made furnishings, ornate chandeliers and crystal vases.

Marriott's luxury hotels excel at combining their own time-treasured tradition and rituals with local heritage.

For example, St. Regis offers a selection of delicacies from buns with Mapo tofu fillings, to a barbeque platter with local smoked duck, and also a special jam with a smattering of Sichuan pepper. That may have contributed to its being a favorite among Chinese travelers.

"China is the second-largest market for Marriott International in the world," said Henry Lee, president of Greater China at Marriott International.

There are 360 Marriott hotels and resorts throughout the country under 22 brands, Lee said, adding that preparations are underway for opening 300 more properties.

"Over 30 years in China, we have witnessed the country's comprehensive and rapid development, and have also seen tremendous opportunities arising from consumer spending moving upwards in the market, and from improving travel experience," Lee said.

"Providing more efficient, high-quality and comprehensive high-end services for these people is a focus in the consumer market," he added.

While operating 58 luxury hotels under seven iconic luxury hotel brands in the country, Marriott is also eyeing the ongoing trends of younger consumers as well as digitalization, Fang Roe said.

"China is the strongest impetus behind Marriott International's growth in the Asia-Pacific area," she said. "It also takes more than half of our share in luxury hotels in the area."

She quoted data saying China will have the world's most well-off families by 2021, while the Chinese will take up half of the world's luxury market by 2025.

"Till then Chinese travelers will spend 40 percent more compared with any other country," she added.

And the Chinese who will be spending on luxury goods and services will also be younger, she said. The average age for Chinese luxury spenders is around 33, Fang Roe said, while the average age for such spenders is 55 in the United States.

China Daily

(HK Edition 11/23/2019 page2)