It now takes just 1 minute to check-in at Singapore hotels with new kiosks that send your photo to ICA for verification

The system will save more than 11,000 man hours for large hotels, says Senior Minister of Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat.
The Straits Times

After being in the air for hours and going through the immigration process, travellers often can’t wait to get to their hotels so they can put their tired feet up, take a shower and get some rest.

But there’s usually another tedious process to go through – checking-in to the hotel.

A new automated system introduced in Singapore will help do away with manual processes and reduce guests’ check in times by up to 70 per cent, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Wednesday (Nov 6).

The system – called E-Visitor Authentication (EVA) – will allow guests to use a mobile app or special kiosk at hotels to scan their passports. The system, which uses facial recognition technology similar to that used in airports, will then send captured data to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for verification. Once verification is completed, the room key will be dispensed at the kiosk.

According to The Straits Times, EVA is already being piloted at three hotels: Ascott Orchard, Swissotel The Stamford and Grand Park City Hall.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said at an announcement during the Hotel Industry Conference 2019 that the hotel check-in process can be “quite labour-intensive” as hotels have to deploy staff at check-in counters to confirm the individual’s face matches the passport photo, and that they are in the country legally.

“Some hotels have implemented self-check-in kiosks with facial recognition technologies to automate the first task, but not the second. With EVA, both tasks can now be automated,” he added.

According to the minister, eliminating manual checks will translate to “more than 11,000 staff hours saved annually for a large hotel”, which will allow staff to spend more time engaging guests.

John Kockan, general manager of Grand Park City Hall, said in a statement that the facial recognition technology has reduced the check-in process duration “significantly” from five minutes to “approximately one minute”.

In addition, guests “have the ability to manage functions such as their in-room lighting and climate temperature with the mobile application,” he said.

Apart from the new EVA system, Chee also announced that 18 other digital solutions have been shortlisted by STB and the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) to address the “key pain points in the areas of housekeeping, HR management and data utilisation”.

For example, the Dynamic Manpower Scheduling System – which is developed by SIMTech, an A*STAR Research Institute – will allow hotels to deploy employees more efficiently across multiple departments and functions.

The solution is a web-based manpower allocation system that automates manpower rostering according to the dynamic demands of the hotel.

According to STB, these initiatives are part of efforts to foster business innovation and support job redesign efforts in the hotel industry by leveraging on technology.

Supporting this, the Hotel Industry Digital Plan was also launched on Wednesday by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with STB and SkillsFuture Singapore.

The plan provides hotels with a guide on what digital solutions to adopt at each stage of digital growth, and includes a training road map to ensure staff are adequately prepared.

With more than 400 properties offering 67,000 rooms island wide, the hotel industry contributes to S$4 billion dollars of tourist receipts and employs 35,000, IMDA said.

“Our hotels are important partners to grow the tourism sector. We must press on with the tripartite efforts to strengthen our industry capabilities and upskill our workforce,” Chee said.

“These will also put us in a better position to tide over challenging times and seize new opportunities when the economy recovers,” he added.

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