Tourism boards globally and brands from Shangri-La to Qantas to Singapore Airlines to Caesars Entertainment to the British Museum all have partnerships with Fliggy (Fei Zhu in Chinese, or ‘flying piggy’), Alibaba’s one-stop travel app. While the app may not have been headline news of late – compared to the likes of WeChat, Weibo, Tmall or Red (Xiaohongshu) – it’s possibly the most important app for a hospitality and travel brand to partner with.
Leading Fliggy’s activity in Europe and The Middle East is Ada Xu, Regional Director at Fliggy. As all businesses and people worldwide are waiting eagerly for travel to begin again, The Luxury Conversation spoke with Ada to learn more about what Fliggy is doing to keep Chinese travellers in touch with overseas destinations.
Where does Fliggy sit in the Alibaba eco-system?
Fliggy is a key component of the Alibaba eco-system and is committed to promoting Alibaba Group’s “Global Fun” initiative. Global Fun, together with Global Buy, Global Sell, Global Pay and Global Delivery, are the five core aspects of Alibaba Group’s globalisation strategy: To realise its long-term vision of serving two billion consumers around the world and supporting 10 million businesses to operate profitably on its platforms by 2036.
Fliggy is a one-stop shop for Chinese travellers seeking the ultimate travel experience and my focus is on helping them discover Europe and the Middle East.
I started my career with Alibaba in 2016, when I originally joined the Tmall team. My role as Business Development Manager was to support and advise French brands on how to enter the Chinese market and connect with Chinese consumers.
In 2019, I joined the Fliggy team, and in 2020, became the Regional Director for Europe & Middle-East.
What do travellers use Fliggy for?
In a nutshell, Fliggy is an online travel services platform dedicated to helping Chinese consumers explore the world. We are a 360° services platform, and currently, we bring together more than 400 airlines and air travel agents, over 8,000 scenic spots, and more than 600,000 hotels and inns, as well as hundreds of thousands of local entertainment activities.
Our focus is to enable Chinese consumers and users from various countries, who can book in Chinese, to book a wide range of global travel goods, enjoying their travel experiences from start to finish. Through the Fliggy app, customers can book plane tickets, train tickets, hotels, attractions, ferry tickets, exhibitions, shows, car rental, restaurant reservations and more.
As a global service, we have partnered with international brands such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Marriott, Hilton, Accor Hotels and Club Med to name a few… some of these have integrated their services and opened stores on our app. Beyond being a one stop shop for Chinese travellers, Fliggy also offers exclusive experiences for its customers.
So far this year, how has Fliggy helped the destination travel industry to recover?
To support destinations through such a challenge, we launched the ‘Fliggy Cloud Tourism’ campaign. This campaign virtually promotes destinations across Europe and the Middle East to Chinese tourists, encouraging them to return once global travel restrictions lift.
The series allows travellers behind the scenes exclusive access via livestreaming to famous tourist hot spots which would otherwise be closed to the world. To date, we have visited the Palace of Versailles in France and the British Museum. Livestreaming offers an entirely new perspective for Chinese travellers who are keen to explore; instead of simply recording a video, livestreaming gives customers an opportunity to take a closer look and learn more about the destinations, with a feeling of ‘being there’.
The livestreams have been a huge success, and since February, Fliggy has launched more than 30,000 live broadcasts and exceeded 270 million viewers.
At the British Museum we hosted a behind-the-scenes livestream to encourage Chinese tourists to return to the United Kingdom, once global travel restrictions lift. The 120-minute livestream, which saw Chinese-speaking guide Yiman Lin walk viewers through the famous artefacts on display including the Rosetta Stone, Statue of King Ramesses II, the Parthenon Sculptures and the double headed Aztec serpent were viewed via the Fliggy app.
Alibaba’s collaboration with the British Museum forms part of a wider set of partnerships with destinations across Europe. Livestreams have also been hosted with the Palace of Versailles, Serbia’s capital Belgrade and the Nuuksio National Park in Finland, as China’s travellers look forward to when they are able to travel freely again.
The British Museum launched a flagship store on Tmall in 2018, making it the first international museum to do so. Its first batch of products sold out within 16 days, becoming so popular that it had to replenish stock shortages more than 30 times in two months. Today, the store has close to 1.45 million followers.
How are Chinese travellers behaving in terms of their travel planning and searches ahead of what is hopefully a lift of restrictions?
As China has started to emerge from lockdown, we are starting to understand some of the changes to consumer behaviour. One behaviour we have seen is that more and more Chinese consumers are ‘hoarding’ travel products and services.
These would-be tourists are buying travel-related products during lockdown in preparation for when the restrictions are lifted and global travel resumes. This is good news as it shows the demand and desire to travel is still high.
Recent data from Fliggy shows that 66% of all these ‘hoarding’ purchases were made by ‘families’ and ‘couple’ customer groups – with more than 60% of consumers intending to increase their overall holiday budgets and increasing their spending by more than RMB 2,000.
There is no denying that Covid-19 has had a long-lasting effect on the travel industry but this data is encouraging. It shows us that, despite the uncertainty, Chinese consumers are incredibly eager to explore the world.