Alibaba to offer valet services

Updated: 2015-09-01 07:55

(China Daily)

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Alibaba to offer valet services

Gary Williams, the principle of The British Butler Institute. [Photo/IC]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, best known for connecting online businesses with buyers, is branching out in a new direction by providing top-end valet services for Chinese customers.

The Hangzhou, Zhejiang province-based company ran a campaign on Juhuasuan, its group-buying site from Friday to Sunday to signal its entry into the booming market for valet services.

Customers who book the 1,999 yuan ($313) package online can enjoy a one-day service offered by Gary Williams, who once served the former United Kingdom prime minister Margaret Thatcher and other members of the British royal family.

Williams, principal of the British Butler Institute, a valet training school, will visit users' homes and offer services such as house management, planning family activities and coaching in table manners.

The promotion, valid only for people in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, was limited to just three orders, but managed to spark keen interest among netizens.

The first two orders were grabbed by Xiao Feng 12 minutes after the activity began.

"I purchased the services to train employees at my new catering company," Xiao said. "There are no high-end catering training services in China, and I hope Williams can offer systematic training on how to serve guests in a proper manner," Xiao said.

"If it feels good, my friends and I will employ valets in our homes," said the 31-year-old entrepreneur who runs three startups in Beijing.

The promotional campaign comes amid a growing appetite for better services among China's rising middle class. The popularity of the BBC drama Downton Abbey and Jeeves, the highly competent quintessential valet in P. G. Wodehouse books, have helped stoke interest for similar services in China.

"The valet service market is still in its infancy in China, but demand is improving," said Fang Peterson, who is in charge of the British Butler Institute's business in China.

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