Business travelers staying at select Marriott hotels in China may soon be able to check into their room with a quick scan of their face, according to a Wednesday Reuters report.
As noted in the report, the international hotel chain is testing facial recognition technology in its check-in process at two separate hotels in Hangzhou and Sanya. The technology will be tested for a potentially wider rollout in the future, the report said.
The inclusion of such biometric features could go a long way to streamlining the process for weary business travelers—especially those coming from out of country—to check into their rooms. However, facial recognition is one of the most controversial technologies in use today, and could scare off potential guests for its perceived invasion of privacy.
SEE: Travel and business expense policy (Tech Pro Research)
In 2017, the US federal government tested facial recognition to track visa holders leaving the US— a program called Biometric Exit, which drew its fair share of critics. Additionally, the Orlando police department has been using facial recognition tech from Amazon, dubbed Rekognition, to track criminals, despite privacy complaints.
For Marriott's facial recognition rollout, it will be working with Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba Group, the report said. This technology is especially contentious in China, where the pilots are happening, due to fears of domestic surveillance, the report said.
With the new facial scan system, guests can jump the check-in line, the report said, and get all squared away for their stay, in less than a minute. A normal check in at the counter takes roughly three minutes, the report noted.
To use the new feature, hotel guests must first scan their IDs, let the system take a photo of their face, and then add their contact details, the report noted. Once the guest's booking information and identity have been confirmed, a room key will be presented.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Marriott International is rolling out a beta facial recognition program in two Chinese hotels this month.
- Facial scanning could cut down the time it takes to check in to a hotel, but brings its own set of privacy concerns into play.
- Special report: Tech and the future of transportation (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Hotels, airlines and travel sites battle bot attacks (ZDNet)
- Predictive analytics: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Air-gapping the planet: How to travel safely in digitally scary places (ZDNet)
- Best travel apps for trip planning and flights (Download.com)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.