Challenging times begets innovation for travel and hospitality companies
It’s been said that challenges shouldn’t paralyze you but help discover who you are. We’ve seen time and again how immense challenges bring about incredible innovation. That is especially true today. Around the globe, travel and hospitality companies are taking advantage of the flexibility of the AWS Cloud to innovate quickly and meet the needs of our current climate. We’re certain game-changing innovations born out of this time will impact and improve the way we fly, stay, eat, and more in the future. And while the full impact won’t be known for some time, we are already inspired by a variety of AWS customers who have adapted their business model or technology to support the industry when it needs it most. Here are just a few examples:
Helping predict hotel recovery
SiteMinder, built on AWS, is the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform, and partners with over 35,000 hotels, across 160 countries, and 400 booking channels, to generate in excess of 100 million reservations each year.
When COVID-19 impacted the industry hard, SiteMinder looked for a way to utilize their technology to help the industry it loved. Leveraging their guest acquisition platform, SiteMinder launched the World Hotel Index. The World Hotel Index, which is refreshed daily, is free to access, and shows how current hotel booking volumes in all major tourist destinations are changing when compared to the previous year. Data is available at a global, country, and city level to provide insight into both macro and local trends. This data caters to the market-specific intelligence that hoteliers, hotel investors, and travel professionals need as governments stagger travel restrictions internationally. The hope is the tool will help hoteliers act quickly at the first signs of recovery in a particular area and better anticipate demand so that they have a competitive advantage when attracting guests.
“SiteMinder was founded with the goal to help hotels thrive by connecting them to travelers around the world,” said Mike Rogers, CTO and co-founder, SiteMinder. “At a time when the industry has been upended, we wanted to find a way to use our platform to continue to serve the hotel community and the travel industry at large. We know travel will inevitably return, but with different regions experiencing differing local laws and degrees of impact, the question for the industry is: exactly when and where will that happen? We hope our World Hotel Index is able to provide more insight into when the demand for an area is bouncing back, so hoteliers can best prepare for their guests’ return.”
Enabling curbside food pickup
LRS (Long Range Systems) is the original paging system innovator, likely best known for their iconic restaurant pager. Many of us have fond memories of standing outside one of our favorite restaurants with friends and family waiting for that pager to buzz and blink so that we could get to our table and begin eating. Today, LRS serves hospitality, health, entertainment, and retail businesses with best-in-class messaging, guest management, tracking, and customer surveys.
In response to operational disruptions, LRS is now equipping businesses with the ability to immediately deploy scalable contact-free solutions. Essential businesses, including restaurants, are facing evolving customer engagement processes with increasing requirements to protect public health. LRS enables restaurants to quickly and easily deploy curbside delivery and pickup. Not only does this improve health and safety in a time of social distancing, it creates new revenue and employment opportunities for restaurants. The system was built rapidly and deployed using AWS, taking advantage of key services including Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Amazon S3. In addition, LRS has contact tracing and additional social distancing solutions underway to help its global customers maintain a safe operating environment for their own staff and their customers.
“We have a long history of helping restaurants enhance the experience of their customers,” said LRS President and CEO, John Weber. “When an opportunity came to quickly deploy our technology in a new way that could help meet the needs of our customers during these unprecedented times, we jumped at the chance.”
Providing beds for those who need them most
Cloudbeds, built on AWS, is a hotel management platform that helps hotels increase reservations and revenue. When COVID-19 resulted in falling hotel demand and a rising need for medical beds, the company transformed the scope of its existing hotel management system, making it available to manage “beds” for temporary medical, quarantine, and overflow facilities. It simultaneously launched a movement encouraging hotel owners to make their properties available for emergency needs, with more than 1.2 million beds being pledged in less than one week.
Cloudbeds’ initiative tapped into its network of more than 22,000 hotel partners to help get the word out – but it didn’t end there. Those across the industry including tech providers, online travel agencies, and even Cloudbeds’ competitors have heeded the call to help and joined the platform. Cloudbeds hopes the #Hospitalityhelps portal will help streamline what is a fragmented and siloed system between local governments, healthcare providers, and hotels. Find out more at www.hospitalityhelps.org.
“We are working to quickly utilize our tools in new, innovative ways by connecting our customers and industry partners to government and healthcare agencies that require assistance,” said Adam Harris, co-founder and CEO of Cloudbeds. “We are inspired by how the hospitality industry has banded together in this time – making available much needed beds to serve in field hospitals, for quarantine and social distancing, and to provide a good night’s sleep for our health professionals who are being called into action from all corners of the globe.”
Enabling safer flying
Elenium Automation, built on AWS, is a passenger experience company focused on improving the journey of air travelers using automation and technology. They had achieved success optimizing operations to relieve traveler queues and increase speed for some of the biggest airports and airlines in the world. This includes more than 700 check-in kiosks in use by 30 airlines across 13 airports globally, including Hong Kong, Auckland, Avalon, Bangalore, and Sydney airports. When the industry was upended, Elenium was able to pivot their focus to provide a service the industry needed: touchless health screenings.
Elenium quickly developed a self-service technology that can detect a passenger’s temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate, and ask a series of questions from a distance of up to one-and-a-half meters at airport touchpoints such as a kiosk, bag drop, security, or immigration. Not only can this technology screen for health issues, but these “hands-free” technologies enable touchless use of self-service devices, minimizing the potential of virus transmission. Elenium uses a combination of AWS’s voice and facial recognition tools, including Amazon Rekognition, with other artificial intelligence to identify people and process their requests without the need to physically touch anything. This includes identifying a person’s voice in a noisy airport environment by using a combination of motion-detection and directional microphones. Etihad Airways will begin testing the new self-service bag drop to check the temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate of passengers and the technology will appear in airports over the coming months.
Aaron Hornlimann, CEO at Elenium Automation, said, “The travel and hospitality industry will get through this. When COVID-19 happened, it made a lot of sense to repurpose our technology for the broader population because people won’t want to touch surfaces when they are allowed to travel again. I’m proud we’ve has been able to quickly develop technology to give airlines and airports the potential to rebound more quickly.”
A hotel platform utilizing data to anticipate demand. A company known for restaurant pager technology transforming to enable curbside and contactless food pickup. Hotel beds transforming into medical beds. And airport kiosks adding health checks to give travelers more confidence flying. These are just some of the many ways our customers inspire us every day. As the challenges evolve, we’re certain to see even more innovative solutions coming from the industry as it looks to rebuild, recover, and thrive. This is why it’s with great confidence we believe that travel and hospitality will get through this and be more resilient than ever before.
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