Alibaba leads the charge when it comes to hotels of the future
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Alibaba leads the charge when it comes to hotels of the future

Chinese internet giant Alibaba is best known for its incredibly powerful online retail platforms. But it’s increasingly becoming a major player in a number of other industries, from online payment solutions to cloud hosting. One of those areas, which is rarely commented on, but holds great potential, is the race towards “machine hotels” – hotels that are powered by Big Tech: connectivity, apps, automation, automated reality, biometrics, and more. Alibaba isn’t the only giant with an interest in this industry… but it’s almost certainly the most successful so far.

Alibaba’s share price has appreciated by 31% so far, year to date

03 04 alibaba

Source: Yahoo Finance

Alibaba unveiled its first (and, thus far, only) FlyZoo hotel at the end of last year. Dubbed in the media as the “hotel of the future” it features robotic assistants and artificial intelligence. If that sounds like gimmick to you, think again: the convenience these technologies deliver is going to be a game changer for hospitality businesses. No lengthy check-ins (it’s all done by app), and full connectivity to Alibaba’s incredible ecosystem provides users with a handy shopping option (like the look of the furniture? Just snap a photo and upload it to the app). You can use that same app to order a meal, and it will be delivered to you via robot-waiter. Robots mix the cocktails, too.

Andy Wang, CEO of Alibaba Future Hotel Management said: “As smart technology is reshaping industries, the FlyZoo Hotel represents Alibaba’s endeavour to marry hospitality with technology, and ultimately inspire and empower the tourism industry to embrace innovation.”

Allan Taylor, CEO of Boost (a mobile learning solutions provider for the hospitality industry) told industry publication Skift: “Technologies such as facial recognition could play a very useful role in the hotel of the future. We already access our smart devices using this technology, and I do not see any reason why we can’t open our hotel room doors with it as well. I would be interested to see how the check-in process could also be sped up using facial recognition also, as well as the security benefits this could bring [although question marks have been raised about the risk of data breaches].”

“The app concept is good and provides the guest with more control. We are already able to choose which seats on the airlines we travel on, so it is only a matter of time before we should be able to choose exactly which floor, the room direction, and even a room theme. Any technology that is guest-facing must be of the highest quality. If the Tmall Genie smart assistant works as advertised, then life will become much easier for the guest, with requests and questions addressed easily and efficiently.”


Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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