The Joint Venture of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) and Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) today announced it is spearheading Marriott International’s facial recognition check-in pilot with Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform. This announcement comes hot off the heels of the joint venture’s recent global rollout of the Post Post Pay (PPP) functionality and redesigned storefront on Fliggy, to continually elevate the travel experience for tech-savvy Chinese travelers.
“We are excited to partner with the joint venture yet again to offer an innovative and convenient check-in alternative for Chinese travelers. Marriott International has a track record of embracing cutting-edge technology to create memorable experiences for guests,” highlighted Mr. Henry Lee, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director of Marriott International Greater China and 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.”
With Fliggy’s expertise in facial recognition technology and the joint venture’s hospitality insights, the pilot will kick off from July 2018 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. This move is set to position Marriott International as a pioneer global hospitality company to offer this seamless check-in experience for Chinese travelers.
The traditional hotel check-in process takes at least 3 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 over 60% showing their preference for facial recognition technology.
Since the establishment of the joint venture in August 2017, Marriott International 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 (marriottcn.fliggy.com) 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 International’s global inventory of 30 brands and choose Li Yu certified hotels, presented in a Chinese traveler-friendly layout. As a firm that seeks to redefine the travel experience for Chinese travelers, the joint venture has also enabled a seamless booking experience by rolling out the Post Post Pay functionality at over 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 significant growth of over two million loyalty members as of June 2018. 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.
“We are proud to have a hand in supporting Marriott International to redefine the experience of Chinese travelers with innovative services,” highlighted Mr. David Chai, CEO of the joint venture. “These accomplishments thus far are testament to our solid expertise of providing effective solutions and services across the entire journey of a traveler; and we look forward to continuing reinventing and showcasing our expertise.”
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.