David Peller

By David Peller, Managing Director, Travel & Hospitality, Amazon Web Services

Cloud technologies today have transformed the travel industry as we know it, gaining considerable competitive advantages - the greatest impact of all being the level of executive commitment to digital transformation, and the pace of innovation that followed. 

In fact, this period of disruption has shown how essential re-invention is for travel and hospitality companies. Travel and hospitality companies have embraced digital transformation throughout this period, both for survival and for reinvention. Disruptive technologies born of these times will stick around and improve the way we fly, eat, stay, and experience the world moving forward. And as travel reopens - and with ever-evolving customer expectations - brands that took this period of diminished demand for travel and invested in digital are well-prepared to better serve their passengers and guests and meet the evolving needs around contactless self-service and more. These innovations were born during the pandemic but will continue to evolve into the future.


Disruption and Travel 

Disruption, of course, isn’t new to travel and hospitality companies, the breadth, scale and duration brought about by the pandemic has led to a sustained shift in the way travel and hospitality companies plan, manage and operate their businesses. The traditional and consistent patterns of demand, and predictable supply have gone; and change has come to the established go-to-market channels for distribution and sales. Whether it is contactless services – such as IHG’s Studio service that enables guests to manage their in-room experiences through their own mobile device, or seamless check-in deployed by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts on their mobile app; the use of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence by Star Alliance with their Transfer Decision Tool and passenger-facing Connections Service, to provide more efficient, personalized traveler experiences; and the use the cloud to transform guest contact centers with Amazon Connect, delivering delightful customer experiences and optimized operations for companies such as Priceline, who are now better able to handle unpredictable spikes in volume while innovating faster.

Regarding travel customer needs, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how fast expectations can change for passengers and guests alike. Their travel patterns and requirements have changed across three key areas 

• ‘Clean’ or addressing evolving regulatory ‘health and safety requirements’ have become top priorities and taken on a very different meaning over the past 18 months;

• Flexibility and the ability to change or cancel reservations, given the fast-evolving and uncertain outlook, has become an almost standard requirement; 

• Experiences for brands that have focused on guest or traveler experiences, enabled automation and self-service, packaged content and services in new ways, have also stood out from the crowd.

As travel and hospitality companies adjust to meeting these evolving customer demands, technology is at the center of delivering on these capabilities. When Seera, one of the Middle East’s leading travel and hospitality businesses, saw demand drop at the start of the pandemic, the company started talking to AWS about how cloud could help reduce costs, but soon also began to explore how cloud computing could be used to develop new services, increase automation, and improve security. It also took the opportunity to train and empower its team with the latest technologies to accelerate innovation so that it could be ready when travel resumes. 

The impact on data and security

AWS is a strategic actor equipped to assist players in the travel industry and effectively uses data to deliver personalized customer experiences. To attract and retain loyal travelers and guests, travel and hospitality companies seek to provide experiences that are differentiated, tailored, and memorable. AWS services help turn data into actionable insights that create a favorable customer experience. We have the most comprehensive set of ML/AI services and ecosystem to deliver personalized experiences – even for companies with little to no prior experience. With AWS, companies can process their data, identify what is meaningful, experiment with algorithms, then optimize a customized, personalization model. This allows companies to make relevant recommendations that deliver an enhanced and inspired guest experience. Specifically, Amazon Personalize makes it easy for developers to create individualized recommendations for customers using their own applications. This personalization can be used for retailing, more effective advertising or tailored recommendations during a journey itself. It’s built on the same technology utilized by Amazon.com. 

Today’s innovation will be taken for granted by tomorrow. Our focus is on innovating for our customers, who in turn take these innovations and create what’s next for their customers and whatever the future brings. The flexibility and agility to innovate is a huge asset in helping the travel industry be prepared for the future, however uncertain the future can be. At AWS, we’re seeing travel companies leverage the agility, elasticity, and cost advantages of processing data on the cloud like never before – building data lakes on AWS to break-down traditional data silos and using machine learning to drive insights and curate unique offerings, like never before. AWS uses the same secure hardware and software to build and operate each of our regions, so all of our customers benefit from the only commercial cloud that has had its service offerings and associated supply chain vetted and accepted as secure enough for top-secret workloads. This is backed by a deep set of cloud security tools, with more than 230 security, compliance, and governance services and key features.

AWS has been architected to be the most flexible and secure cloud computing environment available today. Our core infrastructure is built to satisfy the security requirements for military, global banks, and other high-sensitivity organizations. There is more data created in one hour today, than in 1 year 20 years ago. More data will be created in the next three years than in the past 30 years. Data is at the center of our industry, and that includes travel. For too long however, data has been siloed. There is a monumental amount of data on the supply and demand side of travel, stemming from travelers and guests, from web and mobile searches, direct bookings, indirect bookings, online and offline agencies, meta search providers and other intermediaries, including loyalty programs, service providers. Travel companies need to be able to ingest, store, process and analyze – ever more volumes of data, in real time, to make it actionable and useful. Travelers expect more personalized offerings, communication from their preferred brands, and richer experiences than ever before.

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