Alibaba Group, Marriott Trial Facial Recognition Check-In Technology

BETHESDA, MD—The joint venture of Alibaba Group and Marriott International is spearheading the hospitality group’s facial recognition check-in pilot with Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform.

With Fliggy’s expertise in facial recognition technology and the joint venture’s hospitality insights, the pilot will kick off this month at two Marriott International properties in China—Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, with the goal of global rollout across Marriott International’s properties in the future.

The traditional hotel check-in process takes at least three minutes, and even more during peak times, with most of it spent on queuing. With the adoption of facial recognition technology, the check-in process can be completed in less than a minute. Chinese guests simply need to scan their IDs, take a photo and input contact details on a self-help machine. The intelligent device will then dispense room key cards after identities and booking information are verified.

Through strategic findings from the joint venture, facial recognition check-in improves operational efficiencies. And according to market research results by consulting firm Ipsos, Chinese travelers have shown a strong interest in new technologies in hotels with more than 60% showing their preference for facial recognition technology.

Since the establishment of the joint venture in August 2017, the company reports that Marriott has benefited tremendously from the joint venture’s comprehensive matrix of digital travel solutions and consultancy services, including digital platform consulting and management, customized marketing, business intelligence and service innovation. The Marriott storefront on Fliggy is now managed by the joint venture given its digital platform consulting and management expertise, and it is also a Chinese booking gateway with multi-faceted offerings in one platform. Guests can now access to approximately 6,000 hotels from across Marriott’s global inventory of 30 brands and choose Li Yu-certified hotels, presented in a Chinese traveler-friendly layout. The joint venture has also enabled a seamless booking experience by rolling out the Post Post Pay functionality at more than 1,000 Marriott International hotels globally, in addition to enabling exclusive members-only rates through the storefront.

Along with digital enhancements, Marriott International has also witnessed growth of more than two million loyalty members as of June. Enabled by the joint venture, members can now link their Marriott Rewards and Fliggy memberships through status matching, earn points and enjoy benefits from both programs.

Moving forward, the joint venture will continue its work on enhancing the storefront and linking the loyalty programs of Marriott International and those of the Alibaba ecosystem, allowing more Chinese consumers to enjoy personalized and VIP experiences.