FCM August Innovation Spotlight
AccorHotels offering biometric rewards
After merging their rewards program with Raffles, Swissotel, and Fairmont, Le Club AccorHotels is offering their rewards members a new type of perk. Guests can take a biometrics test via mobile or desktop intended to assess both the thoughts and feelings of travelers based on their pulse and heart rate. The tests measure six different psychological, personality, destination, and style metrics using both auditory and visual components. The quicker a guest responds to the image presented, the more attractive they find it, and thus the better suited it is for their travel plan.
Finnish app aims to unify transit
The Helsinki-based startup Whim provides subscribers with unlimited access to public transit and city bikes, as well as discounted short-distance taxi rides and rental cars. The mobility-as-a-service sector is growing rapidly, and Whim hopes to present a new addition to the industry with its more inclusive cross-transit offering. It offers two subscription packages and has more than 45,000 users in the Helsinki area, which puts it very close to its necessary critical mass of 60,000 users to become financially viable.
Marriott testing facial recognition check-in
The latest venture in Marriott’s ongoing partnership with Alibaba is a self-service hotel check-in system that uses facial recognition technology. Guests will check in at a kiosk where they will scan their IDs, take a photo, and enter their contact details. The kiosk will then verify their identities and booking and dispense their room keys. It’s launching at the Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, with Marriott hoping to continue the program across their properties in the future.
Lufthansa launches airline check-in app
Lufthansa’s AirlineCheckins.com, which will check in flyers across more than 200 different airlines, now has an app. Also called Airline Checkins, the app can be used independently on Apple and Android phones or incorporated into corporate travel management systems. It allows users to include their seating preferences and frequent flyer programs and provides alerts about flight status and gate changes. The parent website was launched in 2016 by Lufthansa Group’s innovation unit; users are given an @airlinecheckins.com email address to send their flight notifications to and the website will automatically check them in as soon as the pre-flight window opens.
Way2VAT developing invoicing AI
London-based Way2VAT has obtained a U.S. patent for an artificial intelligence technology to simplify VAT and travel expense claims. The company claims that the software can decipher any invoice regardless of its condition and handle VAT reclamation for corporate spending including travel, supplier invoices, trade show and convention related expenses, and shipments and DDP. It automatically generates expense reports and supports automated employee reimbursement, VAT reclaims, and spend-tracking analytics.
Amazon launching Alexa for Hospitality
Amazon’s voice-controlled digital assistant Alexa is officially entering the hospitality market this summer. Alexa for Hospitality will be launching at select Marriott, Westin, St. Regis, Aloft, and Autograph Collection properties. The device can provide information about hotel services, play music, and control in-room functions such as temperature and lights. Guests can also make verbal requests through the device that will be transmitted to hotel staff.