Zhejiang Future Hotels Network Technology Limited, co-founded by Alitrip, BTG Hotels and Shiji Information in late March, had its inauguration ceremony on August 10 in Hangzhou, China. The joint venture company has a start-up capital of RMB 50 million, with Alitrip owning 49% shares, BTG Hotel taking 30% and Shiji Information 21%.
Shaohua Li, president of Alitrip and chairman of the JV, pointed out that transforming the business model to cater to the demands of millennials is a way out for the accommodation industry in China. Leveraging the internet to connect hotels with customers and their whole travel experience is high on the agenda for building future hotels.
The JV is expected to complete the transformation of over 1,000 independent hotels in China's major cities within two years.
Rungang Zhang, chairman and general manager of BTG Hotels, hopes the JV with internet-based marketing services could link together independent hotels, which comprise more than 80% of China's star-rated hotels.
“As the technology provider, Shiji will contribute its best technology to help our teammates to win the market," said Kevin King, COO of Shiji.
The JV is developing a cloud-based property management system (PMS) evolving from Shiji’s existing products, said Mr. Li, and this system will be free given that independent hotels can hardly afford to invest in system development.
Alitrip has built an experimental hotel in Hangzhou, where the headquarters of its parent company Alibaba Group is located. The hotel using the cloud-based PMS is expected to be open in 2018. Mr. Li said the hotel will have no front desk, no check in or check out process, and even no need of ID, and it uses facial recognition to admit guests. The plan is under development in laboratory.
Alitrip introduced Credit Stay in the first stage of its “future hotels” strategy in March, 2015 and revealed its “future hotels 2.0” strategy a year later, with its focus shifting from improving user experience to empowering suppliers, the industry and the ecosystem as a whole.
“Future hotels 2.0” strategy was implemented immediately after the announcement, and online hotel reservation, keyless entry and other functions are being introduced one after another. (Translated by Claire)