Pandemic Spurs Adaptation, Upgrades in China’s Hotel Industry
Huazhu Group, one of China’s biggest multi-brand hotel chain management groups, announced on Friday that it is taking a technology-savvy approach to the accommodation experience of guests at about 2,000 of its hotels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lynn Jiang, a marketing employee at a technology company, used a self-service machine to handle her check-in at a Ji Hotel outlet in the Hongqiao area of Changning District. She finished the process in seconds by a few simple clicks and face recognition. She ordered a meal via mobile phone and the food was delivered by a robot to her room.
“Non-contact service makes me relieved as it eliminates the hazards of infection from human-to-human contact,” said Jiang, who is on a business trip this week. “It is also time-efficient.”
Similar changes are happening across China’s hospitality industry under the pandemic.
Ji Qi, founder and executive chairman of Nasdaq-listed and Shanghai-based Huazhu Group, made a livestream debut with Sebastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of French hotel chain Accor, on Thursday night to share insights on the revitalization of the global hospitality industry and its present and future trends.
It attracted 1.3 million views.
Some hotels of Huazhu, which operates nearly 6,000 hotels across China, have become fully automated for guests, from room booking to ID card scanning, face recognition, and robot delivery.
About 50 percent of guests use self-service machines daily for check-in, and nearly 75 percent for check-out. Robots have delivered items or meals about 200,000 times per month on average.
These measures lower the risks of cross-infection, cut human costs and lift service efficiency, the group said.
“In the past decades, the hospitality industry has focused on branding and management, while in the next 10 to 20 years, technology will become a key word for hospitality companies,” said Ji in the live broadcast.
Huazhu said its expansion target of more than 10,000 new hotels in 1,000 cities in the next three to five years will not change.