Written by Quadrum Lee
October 17, 2019
Latest Tech News
Today’s topic is about Alibaba technology innovation. You probably know Alibaba for its eCommerce platforms, but the Chinese tech company is branching out. It’s aggressively testing and implementing tech concepts that span from retail to restaurants, and even hotels. We went to Alibaba’s futuristic FlyZoo hotel, which is a stone’s throw away from its headquarters in Hangzhou, and almost everything you can imagine here is automated.
The first thing we see is no counter or no couches. This is the hotel lobby.
You don’t have a traditional check-in counter or concierge. Foreigners will check in here as staff will come up and assist. But for Chinese nationals, they’ll check on the kiosks, or they can just check in on their phone if they actually have the app of the futuristic hotels.
One of the staff members will take our pictures, so we’ll be able to open the door and get access around the hotel. That’s it and simply, use our face to open the door. We feel a little bit lost without a keycard or receipt or anything like that. To access our floor, we have to scan our face in the elevator. And again, at our doors to access our rooms.
The 290-room so-called ‘smart hotel’ welcomed its first guests at the end of 2018. And while you won’t see as many faces at reception as a traditional hotel, there is still some staff around. Like housekeeping, which Alibaba says still has to use a traditional keycard to clean your room. Addy wang said,
“For the young generation, they love alibaba technology innovation. And for the old generation, they would feel a little bit nervous at initial.”
Andy Wang is the CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel, which oversees FlyZoo. Further, he said,
“With our assistant from our service ambassador in the hotel lobby, they will feel more comfortable. Because everybody knows how to use Alipay and their smartphone”
But the idea here isn’t for Alibaba to open its own futuristic hotels. It’s using FlyZoo to develop technologies it can sell to existing hotel chains. One of its partners is Marriott International, the company behind Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, W and more. Peggy Fang Roe is the chief sales and marketing officer for Asia-Pacific at Marriott International. She said,
“It’s getting good traction, but there are still steps in that check-in process that require you to stop by the front desk so we haven’t eliminated it completely. But when we do, I think people will adapt to it quite quickly.”
She says some of Marriott’s properties in China could be eliminating the front desk check-in process soon. Each hotel room has one of these.
It’s sort of like Alibaba’s answer to Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You can order water, slippers or even room service. It can also open the curtains for you, it can turn on the TV and even dim the lights.
Many of those deliveries are made by these robot butlers, except for things like soups, and irons and ironing boards. The robot can call an elevator itself. It doesn’t need to actually hit any buttons. Forget about your traditional hotel vending machine. You can open the AliPay app, scan the QR code, and then it unlocks. So let’s say if I grab the drink, the app recognizes the product that I picked up from the refrigerator within seconds and it’s charged me.
The hospitality industry is one of the world’s top job-creating sectors, so does that mean hotels will one day be staff-less? Do you think guests will miss interacting with humans? No, never. Hotel associates will always be one of the most important parts of the hotel business. Technology only helps us to improve our efficiency. She said,
“Around the world, consumer engagement with facial recognition can be really different. I think the Chinese market is more ready to consume that functionality than other places around the world”.
Do you think facial recognition will be in the hotel of the future? What do you think about Alibaba technology innovation? Let us know in the comments below
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