Alibaba has launched an unmanned hotel in its hometown of Hangzhou, marking the company’s entrance into consumer-driven internet of things (IOT) sector.

Known as FlyZoo, the hotel’s operation relies on smart interactive technologies particularly facial recognition. A one-meter high robot will serve as a receptionist that can remember a guests by using facial recognition technology. The hotel will also upload guest details to the country’s national public security system via a machine located in the lobby.

FlyZoo will still employ humans—to run house-keeping.

Wang Qun, CEO of the Alibaba FlyZoo Hotel, said the hotel was 1.5 times more efficient than its peers thank to its upgraded hotel management system capability. He said the range of digital solutions Alibaba has brought to FlyZoo is evidence of the group’s new approach to “empowering” industry.

Once registered, a guest’s information will be shared to all hotel service venues, including lifts that can automatically bring the guest to their floor, and room door that will smartly open after an on-door camera reads their faces.

Alibaba robots can complete room services such as meal delivery. In-house speaker can voice-control all appliances. The group’s e-commerce platform, Tmall, will be oversee supply chain management.

A night in a regular room at FlyZoo will cost RMB 3,000 (around $433), including free breakfast for two. As of Wednesday afternoon China time, Alibaba’s travel service platform, Fliggy, recorded that 942 bookings had been made.

FlyZoo Hotel is seen as Alibaba’s step into the consumer-driven IoT sector, a crucial field connecting services and industrial applications of IoT.

As consumer-facing businesses in China continue to mature, corporate demand, particularly for IoT-related products and service, is drawing attention from the country’s tech giants, including Tencent.

Other examples from the hospitality industry include Baidu’s recent announcement that the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel, which is expected to open soon, had agreed to use Baidu’s speaker for smart in-room operations.

Prior to the opening of the unmanned hotel, the company inked cooperation with hotel market leaders including Marriott.

Runhua Zhao

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email:

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