While discussing his company’s profile during a presentation at NAJ’s recent RTO Summit-West in Marina del Rey, Calif., Bill Chambers, regional vice president of product development, Tourico Holidays, casually mentioned the fact that the company is meeting with officials of Alibaba, the giant online retailer based in Hangzhou, China—it also has a headquarters branch in Hong Kong—to discuss selling travel for the latter.
Alibaba “is huge,” said Chambers, noting that the online powerhouse has about 500 million users compared to 220 million for Amazon.com. Founded in 1998 in the apartment of Jack Ma, Alibaba’s executive chairman, the company’s market value was measured at $231 billion (vs. Amazon’s $165 billion).
Chambers provided no details regarding the discussions the company was having with Alibaba, which has more than a dozen other corporate entities that it operates, but the simple disclosure shows that the company’s global reach makes it a serious contender in providing travel product worldwide.
Last summer, Tourico closed the deal to become the booking engine for the travel division of Sam’s Club, the warehouse store component of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world (interestingly, it is expected to be eclipsed by Alibaba in 2016, according to Forbes).
Tourico is also the exclusive travel provider for Air Miles Canada. Air Miles Canada is a loyalty program with a commanding presence in Canada. There are more than ten million active collector accounts across Canada; approximately two-thirds of Canadian households participate in Air Miles. The program has more than 100 partners, including Bank of Montreal, American Express, Shell Canada, grocery chains, drug store chains and more. Consumers collect Air Miles reward miles from sponsors, which can be redeemed for 1,200 reward choices, including (and especially) travel products.