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Apr 3, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

China: Alibaba opens a futuristic hotel to promote its hotel-industry solutions

Fresh from equipping around 50 hotels in the Hainan province with its Alipay solution, Chinese online retail giant Alibaba has just opened its first hotel in the city of Hangzhou, engaging in a diversification strategy at a time when retail profits are beginning to tail off.

​​​​​​In opening its first hotel, which goes by the name of FlyZoo, Alibaba is aiming to showcase its technological attributes, as reported by the website Tom Travel. Designed for travellers with a penchant for the futuristic, the hotel boasts robot butlers, self-check-in terminals in the lobby and facial-recognition scanners, while its rooms offer Alibaba’s voice assistant services.

The Chinese giant is looking to branch out as a way of compensating for the drop-off in online retail, a result of the ongoing trade war between China and the USA.

Minimal staff numbers

With its array of high-tech tools, FlyZoo employs very few people. Its staff – the total number of which has not been announced – amount only to a team of chefs, maintenance personnel and a handful of receptionists, whose job it is to take care of any guests who would rather not have their faces scanned when they check in.

Such guests are likely to be foreign; Chinese tourists are well accustomed to these practices and to sharing their personal data. Alibaba may have decided not to go fully automated on account of the recent problems encountered by the Henn na Hotel in Japan, which, according to Tom Travel, had to sack half of the robots on its staff.

A growing trend

Although FlyZoo seems to require a little more work, with Reuters reporting that several devices work only with Chinese ID cards, Alibaba has already announced that it will be opening other automated hotels for business travellers, starting with its own employees. Situated close to the company’s head office, FlyZoo offers rooms from 1,390 Yuan (184.47 euros).

Allianz Partners

Cover photo credits: Alibaba Group

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