Alibaba to Launch Tech-Forward Hotel in China
Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba is making a foray into the world of hospitality with a hotel located near its headquarters in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. With a focus on technology, this move demonstrates a desire to diversify and move out of e-commerce and into other spheres. We find out more.
Is Alibaba the future of hotels?
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is well known for being a marketplace for every type of good under the sun that can be manufactured in China. A popular place to source cheap products and then sell them on for a high mark-up abroad, the name is not synonymous with hotels, until now. Alibaba has unveiled plans for its first hotel, which will be located in Hangzhou city in the Zhejiang province of China, close to the group’s headquarters. Although the hotel is not open yet, it has already begun to take bookings, and promises guests a fully integrated and automated experience that is heavy on technology. The hotel is currently operating under the apt nickname of “Future Hotel”, although its official title is “Flyzoo Hotel”.
The nature of the hotel will be immediately apparent as soon as the guest sets foot inside the door. They will be met by a robot in the lobby, which will employ facial recognition technology to verify the identity of the guest, after which the guest can make their way to their rooms themselves without actually having to interact with a human receptionist. These robots-as-staff are a big feature of the hotel, and guests will engage with them as they provide them with information about their stay, the hotel and services provided. Guests will also encounter a fully automated system which will allow them to order groceries, control all of the thermal, privacy and security features of their rooms, as well as ordering room services.
Alibaba’s move into hospitality is not purely because they have their sights set on the hospitality sector. It is more about being able to showcase their latest technological developments and achievements in a bid to diversify beyond being a purely e-commerce platform. It provides Alibaba with an opportunity to showcase research and development by their in-house teams, with a view to expanding its branch of artificial intelligence products. It is also perhaps a strategy to win investment from big tech giants.
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