Hotels are facing mounting challenges as they continue to contend with reduced demand and social distancing restrictions as a result of the pandemic. As COVID cases climb and winter months loom, hotels must take extra precautions and can only expect to welcome patrons if they have proper virus protection measures in place.
Recent studies from the CDC show that mask-wearing not only protects others, but also prevents the wearer from getting infected. Face coverings have been accepted as the norm, being required nearly everywhere across the country and around the globe. Knowing that masks serve as a strong line of defense against the virus, mask-wearing must continue to be encouraged. Hotel operators would be wise to look into solutions that can help them seamlessly ensure mask compliance across their property – all to protect the health and safety of both guests and staff.
Biometric technology, especially facial recognition is an incredibly valuable tool in this case, which can not only help hotels mitigate virus spread, but also result in a contactless and personalized hotel stay that encourages guest loyalty.
How facial recognition technology can help hotels
This biometric technology can enable very reliable and inobtrusive mask detection. It uses artificial intelligence to detect faces, identify the presence of a health-compliant mask and verify that it is properly covering the mouth and nose. To further aid in virus protection, some facial recognition tools also incorporate temperature-checking technology using thermal imaging. Solutions like this help guests and staff avoid those awkward thermometer gun encounters, and instead have one contactless interaction for peace of mind.
Here’s a bit more on how it works. When a guest approaches the entrance of the hotel to check in, cameras mounted in the lobby or integrated into a health kiosk capture the necessary information to perform the health check. The computer and health check software process the information to verify whether that guest is wearing their mask properly around their nose and mouth and check their temperature, all without the need for hotel employees to come in close contact. The guest can immediately be notified if they are wearing their mask incorrectly if an interactive kiosk is used to perform health check. In all cases, designated staff can be alerted with a discreet message so they can determine the appropriate action (such as walking up to the guest and bringing them a new mask).
A great example of this solution in action is in the Marriott Rand Tower Hotel in Minneapolis, which has installed Sentry Health Kiosks, along with an advanced air filtration system, to provide the safest environment possible for its guests. The kiosks are equipped with our FaceMe® facial recognition technology and are used to protect guests through temperature checks, mask detection, and even dispensing mandatory hand sanitizer.
The Marriott has stationed three kiosks at key pinch-points throughout the hotel. The first is stationed near the guest check-in area and adjacent lobby bar to provide an instant layer of virus prevention upon entry. Another kiosk is stationed on the fifth floor at the entrance of the Rand Tower Club so guests can enter the restaurant with peace of mind and enjoy a comfortable dining experience. The last is placed in an employee area for daily use to ensure they are healthy prior to servicing customers.
Moving from prevention to innovation
Looking into 2021, hotels are eyeing cutting-edge technology to build upon the safe environments they have created, and facial recognition technology can provide creative solutions beyond virus prevention to satisfy growing guest demand for more personalized experiences.
To that end, facial recognition can be used to offer guests the option to opt-in and add their face to their loyalty membership file to enable a number of premium benefits. For example, guests can check-in and pay using face identification, and even have their preferences logged so a system can instantly recall a preferred drink order at the hotel bar or whether they like a room far from the elevator. Loyalty programs keep guests coming back and can be uniquely tailored with the help of facial recognition, such as tracking when guests use certain amenities and rewarding them with points. The technology can even provide an extra layer of service by immediately recognizing a VIP guest and empowering staff to greet them by name upon arrival. Face ID can be used to automatically grant access to specific areas of the hotel, select the right floor when entering an elevator and even enable secure keyless room access.
Finally, facial recognition technology can provide another way for operators to capture feedback about their service without the need for a survey by assessing guests’ emotional responses to different experiences in the hotel.
Technology is the key to making hotels safer and smarter
With the advent of the pandemic, hotels were bound to change, and technologies like facial recognition provide hotels an opportunity to both protect guests and reinvent their approach to hospitality. It’s encouraging to see hotels begin to embrace contactless and automated health check technologies for virus prevention. Savvy operators would be wise to equip their properties with facial recognition solutions – not only to deliver comfort and peace of mind with guests when it comes to safety, but to also satisfy demand for personalized experiences that will only continue to grow through 2021 and beyond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jau Huang founded CyberLink Corp. in 1996, with a focus on developing world-class digital video and Internet technologies. As Chairman and CEO, he leads a dynamic, award-winning global brand that delivers some of the industry’s most innovative products, including FaceMe®, one of the world’s top AI facial recognition engines. Jau earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science at UCLA and went on to become a professor in the Computer Science and Information Engineering department of National Taiwan University (NTU).