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Tencent teams up with Shangri-La to develop smart hotels

Thanks to Tencent’s technology, the Shangri-La hotels will be able to simplify and shorten the check-in process (usually a hassle in China) using the face recognition technology.

Nov 13, 2018 by A. Alfaro
Tencent teams up with Shangri-La to develop smart hotels

Shangrila's chairman Huiguang Guo, and Tencent's Senior Executive Vice President Daosheng Tang and others sign the partnership agreement.

On November 8, Tencent announced partnership with Shangri-La to develop smart solutions for the multi-national hotel chain based in Hong Kong.

Tencent’s expertise in cloud computing, AI technology, big data, social media and digital payment methods would come in handy to bring hotels operated by Shangri-La up to code.

Thanks to Tencent’s technology, the Shangri-La hotels will be able to simplify and shorten the check-in process (usually a hassle in China) using the face recognition technology. Tencent will also develop a mobile platform to control all the devices in the hotel rooms.

However, the transformation will not be easy for traditional hotel chains like Shangri-La. Tencent Cloud vice-chairman Da Zhiqian said, “It’s a difficult task for global chains to upgrade all the traditional systems to modern big data systems.”

Da Zhiqian said Tencent wouldn’t get involved in Shangri-La’s day-to-day operations but assist the hotels to segue into a modern system.

Guests will be able to order room services with the help of Xiaowei -Tencent’s Alexa-style virtual assistant- but can cancel the service anytime if they feel their privacy is compromised.

In April 2018, during the Conference on the Development of the Hotel Industry, Tencent Cloud gave a presentation on how the industry could benefit from new technologies. Tencent sees hotel industry as an important sector to trial the Internet of Things technology. In December 2017, Tencent signed a cooperation partnership with local Atour Hotels (亚朵酒店) to upgrade their rooms to smart rooms.

Now, Tencent’s cooperation with Shangri-La has taken it to the next level. As Shangri-La is an international chain, Tencent can use the wide network of the hotel group to enhance its global outreach. Da Zhiqian said Tencent is planning to upgrade more than 15,000 rooms of Shangri-La hotels around the world.

This is the first important deal Tencent has signed after its major restructuring. “With internet consumer services slowing down, Tencent will focus on services to companies. Our cloud services and laboratories will be integrated to the new Cloud and Smart Industries Group (CSIG), which will strengthen our B2B ability in the future,”said Da Zhiqian.

However, Tencent is not the only big Chinese tech company to recognise the potential of B2B services. Alibaba, JD, Baidu and Netease are all geared up to cash in on the trend. Alibaba is about to open its first automated hotel in Hangzhou with robot receptionists and smart speakers. In July 2018, Baidu partnered with global Intercontinental Hotels to develop AI-powered smart rooms.

A. Alfaro

A. Alfaro is a Beijing-based freelance reporter. He focuses on China's politics, culture and society. He can be reached at varofaro@gmail.com. 

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