by Michale J. Shapiro | July 11, 2018
Marriott International will pilot facial-recognition technology for check-in at two hotels in China, thanks to its previously announced joint venture with China's Alibaba Group. The tech rollout is the latest in the companies' collaboration with Fliggy, Alibaba's travel-service platform.
The pilot program, which will be driven by Fliggy's expertise in facial recognition and the joint venture's hospitality insights, kicks off this month at the 348-room Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and 452-room Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay. Marriott hopes to roll out the technology globally across its portfolio sometime in the future.
 
"We are excited to partner with the joint venture yet again to offer an innovative and convenient check-in alternative for Chinese travelers," said Henry Lee, COO and managing director of Marriott International Greater China, as well as a board member of the joint venture. "With technology, our hotel associates can work more efficiently to do what they do best -- delivering personalized service to our guests."
 
According to Marriott, the traditional hotel check-in process takes at least three minutes, with most of the time typically spent waiting in line. The addition of facial-recognition technology will reduce that time to less than a minute, they say. Using check-in kiosks, guests can scan their IDs, take their photos and input contact details. The kiosks process the data, confirm identity and booking details, and issue keycards.
 
Chinese travelers are eager to use such technology, according to market research from the international firm Ipsos. More than 60 percent of those polled expressed a preference for the use of facial recognition in hotels.
 
Since the formation of the joint venture in August 2017, Marriott has benefitted from consulting and market research in China, and has rolled out an online storefront for Chinese customers on Fliggy. The hospitality giant is also rolling out Post Post Pay functionality globally, a product of the joint venture that eases international online booking and payment.
 
Customers can also link Marriott Rewards and Fliggy membership programs. The joint venture is currently working on a deeper integration between Marriott's loyalty program and those of the Alibaba ecosystem.