Universal Beijing ropes in Alibaba to pioneer digitised theme park

Duan Qiang, Party Secretary and Chairman of Beijing Tourism Group; Daniel Zhang, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group; Brian Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation

Universal Beijing Resort (UBR) has signed a strategic partnership with Alibaba Group to elevate the guest experience through the use of smart technology and digitisation of operations at the upcoming theme park, which is slated to open in 2021.

UBR is owned by Beijing International Resort, a joint venture between Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment and Universal Parks & Resorts, which operates under Comcast NBCUniversal.

Universal Beijing Resort join forces with Alibaba to digitise the upcoming theme park (Pictured; from left: Beijing Tourism Group’s Duan Qiang, Alibaba Group’s Daniel Zhang, and Comcast Corporation’s Brian Roberts)

Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said: “We put significant thought into the experiences we create for our guests. That experience is about more than our great rides and attractions. It’s about making it fun and easy for our guests to enjoy their time with family and friends. Our partnership with Alibaba will help us do exactly that. Together, we can take the theme park experience to a new level.”

Daniel Zhang, executive chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, added: “This partnership will also bring to fruition a multi-dimensional data-enabled operations management solution for the industry and create a truly digitised theme park. The future of commerce is driven by technology and big data, and digitisation will be the source of brand-new growth opportunities for all businesses.”

UBR will leverage the Alibaba business operating system – a complete suite of services and digital tools – to digitise the operations and management of the theme park to offer guests convenience even before they leave their homes, said the companies in a joint statement.

For example, through integration with Alibaba’s online travel platform Fliggy, visitors will be able to buy tickets and book hotels through the UBR flagship store with a few simple swipes on their phones.

UBR guests will also have the option of using Alipay’s facial-recognition technology across the resort, from park entry and storage lockers to express-lane access and even payment for merchandise and meals.

Alibaba’s local service application, Koubei, will provide F&B recommendations based on guests’ preferences, and enable online meal purchases to minimise wait time.

Tmall, Alibaba’s premier online shopping platform, will be the resort’s e-commerce sponsor, and conduct co-marketing efforts with UBR.

Through cooperation with Alibaba’s digital marketing platform Alimama and Alibaba’s online video hub Youku, guests can enjoy programming about the resort and access Universal movies in the Universal Brand Zone.

Alibaba and UBR said that they are also exploring the options of using Alipay mini-apps to optimise guests’ overall experience. It will aim to improve trip planning, parking and other pain points usually faced by theme park visitors.

The resort will leverage Alibaba’s technology and consumer insights to enhance the guest experience with customised services and elevated park operations, said the companies. Alibaba Cloud will support the digitisation and technology infrastructure of the theme park.

The UBR-Alibaba partnership also extends to Ant Forest, where low-carbon lifestyles will be promoted and users can help contribute to planting real trees in Tongzhou through low-carbon actions that convert into “green energy”. Ticketless entry and digital payment provide guests with convenience, while reducing carbon footprint.

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