AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Conversations: Local Measure
James Hunt, CCO of Local Measure, joins Joanna Todd, WW Head Accommodations and Lodging 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 Local Measure as a launch member of the brand-new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency.
Joanna Todd: Describe your company, the types of travel and hospitality work you do, and key travel and hospitality clients.
James Hunt: Local Measure is a customer communications management platform, empowering front-line staff and agents with the tools to provide exceptional experiences for every customer and guest. We work with some of the world’s most recognizable travel and hospitality brands through our global network of offices. Our flagship product, Engage, is an omnichannel agent desktop, purpose built exclusively for Amazon Connect, enabling contact centers to manage customer communications across voice, digital, and social channels via a single, beautiful interface. Our wider suite of tools also power pre-stay, during-stay, post-stay experiences and reputation management.
JT: 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 managed through them?
JH: Like many businesses that have worked closely with travel and hospitality, the pandemic has been extremely challenging at times, however, out of this nightmare situation we have navigated with innovation — amending our in-stay technology to power contactless communication on-site and developing our Engage for Connect product, which is in high demand given the requirement for contact centers to rapidly move to remote working, cloud-based technology and the fact that so many of us are now using more and more digital channels to communicate in everyday life. It’s now expected that businesses can communicate seamlessly via voice, email, chat, and social. We’re all using those channels daily, but the technologies for most businesses were siloed across different functions with customer data and conversations totally out-of-sync…until now.
JT: 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?
JH: I have many stamps in my passport. I’ve always loved to travel and throughout my life have been fortunate enough to do so for both business and pleasure. Travel is about experience and for me the epitome of customer service and experience is in the travel and hospitality industries. Like most people though, this pandemic has changed the way I do things. Flying to meetings has been replaced by video conversations, shopping has been conducted online and communication has been across more platforms than ever before. As much I can’t wait to take to get back to “normal,” much of these changes will stick around. We can help travel and hospitality organizations navigate their way through the communications changes and challenges. These interactions are going to come with an added amount of expectation and pressure and we’re here to help.
JT: 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?
JH: Well, it’s certainly been challenging at times. Honestly I’m proudest of the resilience, scrappiness, and amazing invention under pressure the team at Local Measure has shown. I’ve also been blown away by the support from AWS when we re-built our Engage product to exclusively power Amazon Connect contact centers. The first few engagements were a little nerve wracking, but our experience in implementations with travel and hospitality businesses stood us in good stead, given they’re the leaders in customer experience so we have extremely high quality control and training standards. Then we iterated really fast to the point where a number of the new releases showcased at re:Invent have already been integrated into the platform – like Tasks, Apple Business Chat, and Customer Profiles. We’ve now gone even further and introduced quick-start bundles so businesses can get up and running really fast and true on-demand billing to help organizations only pay for what they actually use with no platform functionality limitations.
JT: 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?
JH: Enhancing the experience and improving efficiencies is central to what we do. As a technology platform, it’s important to ensure that whatever automation or efficiencies you’re proposing enhance the human experience. As travel starts to pick up, there’s definitely a heightened expectation – I don’t know anyone that isn’t looking forward to a holiday – and I don’t know any businesses that aren’t looking forward to receiving guests, but there’s pressure on those first interactions, those crucial touchpoints. We build technology so that businesses can truly understand their customers, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and how their interactions with you may have changed – essentially we’re keeping track of the entire customer journey. We recently published a whitepaper in partnership with Ecosystm 360 on the need for businesses to adopt an “omnichannel” strategy – not just so that they can maintain synchronous customer conversations, but so they can increase the efficiency of their conversations via their agents.
JT: 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?
JH: AWS allows us to deliver services that are flexible, scalable, economical and that leverage the latest in technology. Hotels and hospitality businesses will likely have to continue to experience some short-term volatility and having cloud-based platforms that adapt to these movements and without the worry of long, fixed contracts is key. Being part of the new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency allows us to interact with those forward-thinking businesses and means we can ensure we’re delivering solutions that not only will help them to overcome the current situation, but will allow them to thrive as the world opens up again.
JT: What makes you excited for the future of travel and hospitality?
JH: Like many people, dusting down the passport and experiencing that sense of anticipation that travel creates is an exciting prospect. In previous years, we’ve been able to get our whole company together in places like Vietnam and Cambodia. I’m looking forward to our next internal conference as there’s a number of faces I have not yet met in person. I quite fancy a week in Tahiti, but we’ll see!
As Chief Commercial Officer at Local Measure, James oversees Sales, Marketing and Partnerships. With extensive start-up experience, James is an international business scale and development expert who is passionate about helping organisations grow and fulfil their potential. Originally from London UK, James now lives in Sydney Australia, working out of Local Measure’s HQ.
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.