AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Conversations: Accenture
Emily Weiss, Global Travel Industry Sector Lead of Accenture joins Florian Tinnus, Worldwide Partner Leader for AWS Travel and Hospitality, for a broad-ranging discussion around how AWS Partners are helping customers build resilience and prepare for what’s next in travel and hospitality.
During this unprecedented time for the industry, we have been inspired by the innovations that have been born out of disruption and will impact and improve the way we fly, eat, stay, and experience our world for years to come. Now more than ever, AWS wants to help customers succeed by connecting them to AWS Partners with deep AWS technical expertise and proven customer success to help travel and hospitality organizations build a resilient business and accelerate innovation. That’s why we’re honored to have Accenture as a launch member of the brand-new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency.
Florian Tinnus: Describe your company, the types of travel and hospitality work you do, and key travel and hospitality clients.
Emily Weiss: Accenture helps create change for clients where change is most needed in travel, grounded in our meaningful relationships with top companies all over the world, along with our vast network of industry and technology ecosystem partners. And if there has ever been a time to embrace change, now is it.
Take NH Hotels for example, that is using automation, AI, and a lean organization structure to increase productivity by 45%—enabling hotel agents to spend more time creating customer experiences. With Cathay Pacific, we were able to improve the customer experience, reconcile data in an efficient manner, and double engagement with hundreds of discrete marketing campaigns associated with its rewards programs. For Singapore’s Changi Airport, recognized as one of the best airports in the world, we created a seamless digital experience for travelers, increasing revenue and fostering loyalty.
In every case, it is the combination of technology with human ingenuity, applied with industry insight and expertise. Our people are our secret sauce. They have deep industry knowledge and experience and work hard to be at the center of the ecosystem, both tech and industry. This helps us do everything in a very relevant way.
FT: Many companies across travel and hospitality have been managing through a period of unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during this recent period and how have you helped clients manage through them?
EM: The speed and degree of any recovery depends to a large degree on the ability of the industry to work together. At Accenture, we sit in a very unique position that helps us bring different pieces together, which has been a large area of focus for us. While it will take the industry working together to fully recover, we also know every company has it in their power to own their destiny.
For those wanting to lead, we’ve been helping harness technology and data as a key driver of change. By redesigning and optimizing the technology behind it, customers can be serviced seamlessly through their channel of choice, and the business will be able to adjust operations to demand. Technology will provide insights that will help agents drive additional sales and provide customers with a more efficient, personalized, and prioritized experience at an attractive cost for the business.
Similarly, recognizing that contactless is going to be an even bigger part of travel’s future is critical. Yes, many hotels previously offered self-service kiosks for check-in/out; but touchscreens are not the solution here. The whole end-to-end process could go contactless—everything from check-in to keyless room entry to general service delivery to check out—and cloud will be the enabler of it all.
FT: It’s been an incredibly difficult time for travel and hospitality companies, but we’ve seen many companies investing for the long run. With all the uncertainty, why has your company chosen to invest in travel and hospitality at this time?
EM: We believe in travel! Travel is vital to our economies, our communities, and our well-being. Our research also shows us that the knock-on effect in travel has reverberated to far reaching corners with a huge value shift taking place. And we believe in our clients; who are innovative, resilient, and filled with opportunity to position themselves for long-term success. Accenture research shows that concerns around the virus are starting to decline, but 43% of consumers remain cautious about stepping out and resuming normal activities. However, with 17% claiming they are living for the moment, and 28% that are keen to return to how things were, there is pent up demand. We strongly believe that companies steering well over the next while will be in an excellent position to capture that demand and we are committed to working with them to do so.
FT: In the face of the current disruption to the travel and hospitality industry, we’ve observed incredible innovations coming from across the industry. How has your company innovated through these challenging times on behalf of your customers and what are you most proud of?
EM: Again, big challenges take enormous amounts of collaboration. We are seeing players along the broad ecosystem that still need to operate with less and with limited visibility of each other. Getting travel restarted will take everyone working together. In a recent report, our team outlined four future scenarios for the industry, with distinct pictures of recovery and priority actions. In each scenario, there is a large dependency on how the industry works together and predicts how quick a recovery we make. Bringing stakeholders together, working across a wide value chain … this is really how we have been innovating on behalf of our customers and what I am most proud of. Our work on World ID for Travel is a great example in how we aim to bring the industry together to enable safe and secure resumption of travel.
FT: The travel and hospitality industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward recovery, what role does technology play for your company moving forward? How do you see technology enhancing the customer experience and improving operational efficiency?
EM: As we look to the future, we see tremendous potential in cloud as a way to help with imposed downsizing, greater business flexibility, and engineering the business to achieve lower costs. On the growth side, cloud can also help companies sell more and deliver improved and contactless services to customers. The opportunity for the industry is huge: Pre-pandemic, only 20% of workloads were in the cloud. Our research shows that by 2021, 57% of workloads will be in the cloud. Change is not fast—it’s lightning speed.
Imagine the possibilities cloud can offer to pivot and grow in the face of extreme disruption:
- A hotel reinvents its marketing and sales strategy based on tracking virus prevalence in destinations and understanding consumer sentiment through real-time social media listening. Marketing and sales systems are quickly scaled up/down in respective markets based on the real-time insights.
- A cruise line transforms its business from monolithic apps to nimble and modular services that adapt to the dynamically changing needs and realities. Such systems are cloud-native, better aligned to business, and results in faster speed-to-market.
- A travel company uses artificial intelligence and robotics to minimize manual intervention and enable contactless interactions via a new digital relationship management platform and mobile application. This platform integrates with a vast variety of ecosystem partners required for the contactless journey.
- An airline repurposes its analytics budget, capacity, and capability from the passenger to the cargo side of the business finding new revenue opportunities. This shift is possible with a variable IT infrastructure that is flexible and delivers lower unit cost
FT: How does building on AWS allow you to prepare for whatever the “new normal” in travel and hospitality will look like? How does the new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency help companies do the same?
EW: AWS provides a feature rich set of capabilities that allows Accenture to extend our existing industry solutions, our client’s solutions, and our ecosystem of partners’ solutions. Additionally, AWS provides the ability for Accenture to collaborate with our clients and AWS to bring new solutions to market. The combination of our travel industry expertise and our well-established AABG (Accenture AWS Business Group) allows us to accelerate the development of industry-relevant offerings as part of our AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency.
FT: What makes you excited for the future of travel and hospitality? As a traveler or guest, where are you looking forward to visiting next?
EW: I believe that travel will return better than ever! Guests and travelers will have new expectations and desires, and travel companies will be better suited to support and attract the increasingly growing pent-up demand. New services, products, and revenue streams will be available to support the return to growth and to enable the return to connections, experiences, and exploration. For me, I’m excited to get back on the road and up in the air so I can once again create memories with my family, friends, and colleagues.
Emily Weiss is Accenture’s Global Travel Industry Sector Lead, responsible for the Hospitality, Aviation, and Travel Services sectors.
Prior to this global leadership role, Emily was Accenture’s NA Travel Industry lead, Northeast Consumer Goods Industry portfolio lead and the Global Client Account Lead for several priority accounts across the Travel, Consumer Goods, and Media & Entertainment industries. Emily’s supports clients on their digital, technology, and business transformation journeys.
She graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania with degrees in Mathematics and Spanish and studied at The Universidad de Sevilla in Spain. Emily was a Fellow in the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Leadership program, C200 Women’s Leadership cohort, and co-sponsor for Accenture’s Women’s Leadership Forum. She worked on international client assignments in Spain, Brazil, and Ecuador, the latter as part of Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP).
Learn more and team up with AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency Partners.
See more Partner Conversations and industry insights on the AWS Travel and Hospitality Blog.