Brave New World of Customer 'Service'.
By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry
Friday, 22nd February 2013
A Dresden, Germany based company, Cognitec which touts itself as the market leader for 'face recognition technologies and applications for enterprise and government customers' recently rolled out its latest product called 'FaceVACS-VideoScan' a video screening and analysis technology.

The Orwellian overtones to its potential uses notwithstanding, the device promises to revolutionize businesses in a number of areas from security to operations and marketing.

A review of FaceVACS, by Planetbiometrics,a website devoted to news from the "fast-moving biometrics industry" notes that analyzing the data "over time allows the software to compute people count, demographical information, people movement in time and space, and to detect frequent visitors and crowds."

The biometric journal goes on to suggest that, for instance, operators in a variety of customer-interface situations across industries, " can receive an alarm if too many people gather in a specific area and measure waiting times to direct traffic.

The analysis of traffic patterns and demographical statistics over long periods of time can provide businesses with precise visitor data to make interior design, advertising placement, staffing and other operational decisions."

The implications for hotels and airlines, should the device be effectively deployed and used in the check-in process and for hotels in restaurants and banquets appears considerable.

Secondly, in these two industries the security enhancements that presumably can be brought about are also tremendous as it promises to detect and prevent unwanted behaviour in much faster and more efficient ways as security personnel can receive alerts on mobile devices to act within the immediate vicinity of a suspect.

Addtionally, real-time identification of authorized individuals or high-ranking customers can prompt access to restricted areas or alert personnel to provide special treatment. The latter foretells a rich menu of options for establishments catering to high rollers for example by enabling instant acknowledgement and access to premium areas.

Along the lines of the foregoing, the Financial Times has an interesting report on a "Live Lab" situated in Singapore that was developed by professors at Singapore Management University. The Singaporean government invites its consumers to "opt into" the service using their mobile phones in three high traffic/high end locations locations in the city state.

For instance, the scheme would cause participating consumers to receive real time pings on their mobile devices whilst they are in a store or other retail establishment that may point to offers specific to what they are looking at.

Given the intrinsically intrusive nature of the Singapore project it is probably an idea that can only develop legs in a country famous for its ability to monitor its citizenry. Nevertheless, it offers up a slew of marketing possibilities that could gin up sales in any number of departments in most service industries.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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