Hotel of the future

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group opened its first “future hotel”, also known as “Flyzoo Hotel”, in Hangzhou, China.

Equipped with the latest leading technology, many futuristic features are enabled at the hotel, guests can check into the hotel without talking to anyone. They can walk straight to their rooms and get their faces scanned at the door to gain entry.

Robots can be found everywhere in the hotel, and they would guide the guests by providing recorded voice messages and accompany them during their stay. The guests can also control indoor temperatures, lighting intensity, household appliances through their voices.

A very notable device that the hotel is equipped with is called “Tmall Genie”, which is an AI management system. The system will take orders from guests, including buying groceries.

The one-meter high robot ‘Genie’ powered by Tmall, an AI system, follows guests around, takes orders, helps to buy groceries, orders meals, and picks up laundry through voice command, touch, or simple gestures.

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Why it’s hot: As a reply to high labor costs, creating uniformity in hospitality services and mixing up and re-imaging the hotel industry, this robot enabled hotel is smarter, more automated and an inspiration for future digital travelers.


Alibaba gives the elderly some luvin’

Last month, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba launched an easier-to-use version of its Taobao e-commerce app built with senior citizens in mind. Although the app has a simpler interface, elders can access the same features – such as personalized shopping suggestions and live-streamed content – as those with the original app. It also makes it easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

It also includes a new peer-to-peer chat function, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

Taobao also added a feature that lets seniors get in touch with their families with the touch of a button. Over 30 million Taobao users are 50 or older.

We often hear about tech-driven companies clamoring to cater to millennials and Gen Z-ers. The stereotypes dictate that younger consumers are ‘digital natives’, radically different to older ‘digital immigrant’ counterparts. But that’s not really the case. Consider one recent telling sign of the times: the number of senior Airbnb hosts in Asia is rising faster than all other age groups. Older consumers are increasingly exhibiting the same behaviors (digital and otherwise) and have the same expectations.

  • Alibaba made a simple tweak to an existing service and in doing so gained access to a huge aging population – one we often alienate
  • This also opens up the market for sellers that cater to a very large subset people that would otherwise be hard to reach via brick and mortar
  • Modifying digital commerce services for the elderly makes a ton of sense considering their limited access to transportation and less opportunity for mobility
  • The feed is curated for this demographic and it seems the Asian community dabbles in sexy underwear and flame retardant pants

Source: Alibaba

Taobao villages: “E-commerce runs toward the road of happiness”

Daiji township is a dusty collection of villages in China’s central heartland plains. It was described in a recent article in a Chinese magazine as a place “synonymous with backwardness, the unwanted stepchild of Shandong province.”

But in 2016, Daiju sold 1.8 billion yuan ($26.2 million) worth of acting and dance costumes.

“Made in China” is nothing new. But the internet and e-Commerce specifically have exponentially increased the volume and reach of manufacturing, changing the face of the country. Half of Daiji’s 45,000 residents now produce or sell costumes—ranging from movie-villain attire to cute versions of snakes, alligators, and monkeys on Alibaba-owned Taobao.

And Daiji is not the only rural town in China dramatically changed by globalization. In November 2016, China’s State Council Office on Poverty Alleviation, along with 16 other ministries, released guidelines calling for a massive expansion of e-commerce in rural areas as part of the fight against poverty.


Why It’s Hot
In the current political environment where countries like the U.S., the U.K. and France are looking for ways to preserve jobs of old, looking at countries that continually push to capitalize on globalization may help us to embrace change rather than hide from it.