A new sun is rising in the east for Asian travellers. Chinese tourists are increasingly spending more overseas, in part thanks to a burgeoning interest in global travel from young consumers, but also due to digital innovations that are improving the travel experience overseas.
Online platforms, such as Fliggy, Alibaba Group’s travel services platform, are some of the driving forces leading this transition. Fliggy is part of the wider Alibaba and Ant Financial ecosystem that also includes WorldFirst. Fliggy and WorldFirst are now integrating their platforms, marking an opportunity for international brands targeting the Chinese travel market. But what makes Fliggy so special as an online travel platform, and what does this integration mean for international WorldFirst customers?
This is what’s new with Fliggy
Fliggy, formerly known as Alitrip, is a rapidly growing online travel platform that’s making waves for Chinese travellers. Fliggy’s mission is to support travellers and merchants alike by playing a central part of the travel experience – not just when booking a trip, but also during the trip itself, as well as after the trip.
Fliggy is achieving this by tapping into resources from the Alibaba ecosystem such as Alipay, the preferred mobile payment method for Chinese tourists, as well as by partnering with international organisations such as Marriott, Hilton and Merlin Entertainments to offer solutions for Chinese travellers abroad. Fliggy is also opening up new payment options such as zero-down payments, a popular method of payment with younger audiences. 
March 2019 saw the launch of the Fliggy Buy service, a new shopping channel that allows Chinese travellers to purchase goods on Fliggy before they reach their destination, making the overall travel experience richer.
“The launch of Fliggy Buy represents our latest move to work with merchants targeting the vast numbers of tourists from China to develop innovative solutions and offer them targeted customer traffic. Our aim is also to embrace the potential of digital technology and provide a holistic travel experience encompassing food, accommodation, transportation, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment,” said Roman Zhu, Head of Fliggy Buy at Fliggy.
Fliggy plays a key role in Alibaba’s “Global Fun” strategy, promoting international travel for Chinese tourists by working with the global travel industry to give tourists a better experience abroad. 
What does this integration mean for hotel and airline suppliers?
While Fliggy enriches the experience for Chinese travellers, it also creates ample opportunities for hotel and airline suppliers looking to break into the Chinese market. Historically, payments from merchants to suppliers through the Fliggy platform incurred high transaction costs and additional charges. Fliggy’s integration with WorldFirst means that transactions on Fliggy can be a lot more profitable for international merchants by utilising the WorldFirst platform.
The process of paying through WorldFirst on Fliggy is simple, cost-effective, and pain-free. WorldFirst provides Virtual Currency Accounts (VAs) to Fliggy suppliers who sell hotel or air ticket services on the platform. Settlement from Fliggy is then transferred directly into the supplier’s WorldFirst VA account. This greatly speeds up settlement time as it’s an instant transaction. To pay, the supplier simply sends an invoice to the merchant, and then the merchant pays the supplier via a WorldFirst local currency account.
International merchants are already making the most of this integration, with customers in markets such as China, Thailand, and Singapore. With 187 currencies available, this greatly simplifies international trade. Merchants can now avoid fees for transfers and collecting funds, and also receive access to instant payments. This reduces fees and shortens the time to market and the time it takes for supplier reconciliation.
The integration between WorldFirst and Fliggy is yet another example of how WorldFirst is leveraging the scale and ecosystem of Alibaba and Ant Financial to solve customer problems, create smart solutions, and enrich the way our customers can do business. Constant innovation is a key aspect of WorldFirst’s global strategy, and this integration keeps WorldFirst ahead of its competitors.
WorldFirst’s integration with Fliggy further emphasises the ways we’re helping to create new opportunities and solve challenges with cross-border payments for eCommerce. We partner with major marketplaces and eCommerce service providers on a global scale. To learn more about our global capabilities and the WorldFirst World Account, visit the marketplaces page of the WorldFirst website.