Skift Take

Despite improvements in data privacy, facial recognition is still sort of disturbing for many organizers and attendees.

Facial recognition has gone from being a science fiction-like fantasy to a concrete reality. In the past two years, the technology has permeated a variety of industries — but especially travel. It helps people quickly check in at events, airports, and hotels, cutting down on the long lines that often go along with taking a trip.

The technology has a special significance for events, and more planners are starting to use it. Beyond checking people in, it can actually personalize the experience for them. Monitors with facial recognition software, when placed throughout the convention center, will pick up on where individual attendees are, identify them, and then provide them with personalized messages.

This is all undoubtedly cool, but it doesn’t do much to quell fears over data privacy. As more planners use the service, concerns are starting to rise — and with good reason. The technology isn’t perfect, and any stored data is vulnerable to hackers.

Facial recognition startup Zenus may have found a solution to this issue, however. The company has been working on ways to protect data for two years, and it’s now able to recognize attendees without getting any information beyond their picture and ticket number.

Zenus CEO Panos Moutafis talked to Skift about data privacy and what it does to make companies more comfortable with the technology.

Check out this story, and many more, below.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at or tweet @ikcarey.

Isaac Carey, Travel Reporter

The Future of Events and Meetings

Privacy Concerns Loom as Facial Recognition at Events Becomes More Common: A facial recognition startup has developed a new way to protect attendee data, but many people are still wary of the technology. It’s hard to blame them, considering that data breaches within the travel industry seem to be happening left and right.

Small Luxury Rental Companies Seek Differentiation From the Big Guys: Luxury short-term rentals sit at the intersection of old-world hospitality, expert-led curation, and innovative new-world tech, but they’ll need unique models to stand apart in the rapidly growing alternative accommodations sector.

Budget Chain Oyo Can Be a Nightmare for U.S. Hotel Operators Despite Its Hype: Oyo has a hype machine to rival any brand. But beneath all of the disruption, some hotel owners complain its technology is unstable and lacks functionality, leaving them to clean up the mess. Growth for growth’s sake may seem great for a unicorn-like valuation, but the hotel chain will need to grapple with flaws in its business model that can’t keep pace.

Around the Industry

Short-Term Rental Company Altido to Ramp Up Dealmaking as Antidote to Market Pressures: Altido, a short-term property management group based in Europe, plans to grow through bite-size mergers in 2020. Its new CEO seems right in saying that the dynamics driving the company’s strategy speak to larger dynamics in the sector.

Greta Effect Felt on Climate Talk at Ensemble Travel Group Conference: Sustainable travel was the overriding theme at Ensemble Travel Group’s 2019 International Conference, which CEO David Harris called the most important issue facing travel advisors and their clients. The importance of capturing sales data and strong alliances with travel industry organizations also emerged as top priorities.

Blueground Raises $50 Million for Extended-Stay Lodging: Travel Startup Funding: Travel startups announced more than $64 million in funding. Investors backed innovations in extended-stay lodging, food waste management, voice-powered instructions for airline and hotel workers, help for distressed visitors in India, and event planning tools.

The Best Of EventMB

The Best of EventMB is our newest section, giving you a look into the most important and interesting content from EventMB, whether it be reports, articles, or resources for planners. EventMB joined the Skift family in September and is the largest online media resource for trends, technology, innovation, and education in the events industry.

The Business of Internal Events: Report: Check out EventMB’s newest report, which takes a close look at all types of internal events and the roles and tools involved in organizing them. It offers tips and best practices for executing each kind of event, all of which are based on actual survey results and industry stats.

100 Event Statistics — 2020 Edition: Do you know all the key statistics that will affect the way you create events? Take a look at our comprehensive collection of 100 key statistics for the event industry in 2020.


Travel Reporter Isaac Carey [] curates the Skift Meetings Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

Subscribe to the Skift Meetings Innovation Report

Subscribe to Skift Pro

Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)

Subscribe Now

Tags: facial recognition, meetings, meetingsiq, zenus

Photo Credit: Event attendees use Zenus facial recognition software to check in. Unsplash