New technology may replace traditional front desk check-in experiences.

Perri Ormont Blumberg
July 13, 2018
Robert Benson/Getty Images

It already feels like a bit of a nostalgic moment to check into a hotel and the front desk associate to present you with a physical room key instead of a card to swipe into your hotel room. Soon, the mere act of speaking with a front desk employee to check into a hotel may be a relic of yesteryear, too.

On Wednesday, Marriott International announced their latest joint venture with Alibaba Group to begin trials of facial recognition check-in technology, starting with two properties in China this July, Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay. "We are excited to partner with the joint venture yet again to offer an innovative and convenient check-in alternative for Chinese travelers. Marriott International has a track record of embracing cutting-edge technology to create memorable experiences for guests,” said Mr. Henry Lee, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director of Marriott International Greater China and Board Member of the Joint Venture, which began in August 2017, in a company statement. “With technology, our hotel associates can work more efficiently to do what they do best – delivering personalized service to our guests.”

According to their press release, the standard hotel check-in process takes at least three minutes (or, you know, 30!), while the facial recognition technology can bring the activity down to under a minute. With the new technology, guests use a digital kiosk to scan their IDs, take a photo, and enter their contact information. After their hotel reservations and identities are verified, the machine presents guests with room key cards.

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While the exact timeline for expansion of the offering hasn't been revealed, the pilot program has "..the goal of global rollout across Marriott International’s properties in the future," as the statement reads. Less time waiting in line for our room keys and more time at the beach? The future can't come soon enough.