Etihad Airways is looking for ways to bring innovation and digitalisation to the tourism industry, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tencent to help identify opportunities.
The pair hopes the partnership will allow the airline to enhance guest experience, broaden customer choice, and elevate its engagement with Chinese visitors.
Under the MoU, Etihad will leverage Tencent's cloud computing capabilities and social media platforms such as WeChat, which is the largest social media platform in China with over one billion monthly active users.
"The collaboration with Tencent presents a huge opportunity for Etihad, allowing us to engage with our guests on the biggest digital platform in China, speaking to them in their language and on their preferred platform," Etihad Aviation Group chief commercial officer Robin Kamark said.
Etihad expects both the cloud and Tencent's social media platforms will better support its customer engagement strategy, starting with the launch of its own WeChat Mini Program.
The Mini Program allows brands to interact with WeChat users via advanced features within the WeChat environment, without the need for separate app downloads or interfaces, the companies explained.
Etihad Airways launched its WeChat public account in 2016 and the Mini Program is expected to boost its outreach to Chinese audiences.
"Tencent's established technological capabilities will undoubtedly supercharge our innovation drive, and I am very excited about the unlocked possibilities," Kamark added.
Kamak also took the opportunity to comment on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, saying a partnership with Tencent shows the company's strong support for China.
"Forging a partnership with Tencent right now shows our strong support for China, which is a very important market for Etihad," he said.
"The continuation of our daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing at such a challenging time reinforces our commitment. We want to express our solidarity with the citizens and our staff in China and the UAE, who have come together during these trying times. Jiāyóu -- stay strong."
Meanwhile, Tencent International Business Group vice president Poshu Yeung said the MoU offers a "very pragmatic cooperation roadmap that rapidly formulates innovative strategies, supports the development of China's outbound tourism, and further enhances [Tencent's] footprint in the Middle East market".