AWS for Industries

Hospitality Industry Cloud Migration Journeys and Best Practices

Title image: Getting Started with Amazon Web Services

In 2022, more than 30 percent of travel and hospitality companies started their digital transformation by migrating legacy systems and applications to AWS. However, many customers tell us that they still grapple with the decision of which workloads and applications to prioritize during this migration journey.

To address this, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has published ebooks containing migration journeys of various customers from the Accommodations & Lodging and Restaurant Industries. The journeys vary, but the outcomes are similar—travel and hospitality companies that migrate their data, applications and workloads to the cloud improve operational efficiency and enhance the traveler and guest experience.

In this blog post, we will elaborate on some of these paths, focusing primarily on the success stories from Restaurant Brands International (RBI) and Choice Hotels.

Restaurant Brands International Migration Path: Optimize IT Resources

Figure 1 – The Optimize IT Resource Cloud Migration Journey

Figure 1 – The Optimize IT Resource Cloud Migration Journey

Many travel and hospitality companies have access to vast amounts of data, but often lack the necessary insights and staffing to utilize it effectively. Attracting and retaining talented IT personnel can be a significant challenge, as is staying abreast of rapid technological innovation and growing data sets. It is for these reasons that many companies embark on a journey to cloud-based solutions to optimize their IT resources.

RBI, the parent company to well-known franchises like Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons, operated multiple data centers supported by an extensive team dedicated to infrastructure and operations. They aimed to reduce IT costs, eliminate technical debt, and reallocate resources to higher-value projects. Their IT team, under the increasing pressure of handling the surge in data demands, found infrastructure transformation and storage expansion to be a daunting annual task. Consequently, RBI turned to AWS, embarking on their migration journey.

AWS enabled RBI to handle their data requirements effectively with a lean IT team. Initially, RBI migrated its on-premises data center to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon DynamoDB, a proprietary fully managed NoSQL database. This change allowed them to manage data without the need to increase the staff managing the data center. Additionally, as part of the migration, RBI also migrated their entire suite of SAP BW on Oracle, including Test/Dev, QA, and Production, to AWS. As a result, they reported a 30% improvement in performance and increased levels of availability.

As they continued their migration journey, RBI freed up IT resources to focus more on business-centric issues. Their subsequent goal was to transform their ecommerce and digital sales platforms. With sales growth, the company moved to the next critical phase: contact center modernization.

For the final stage of the journey, RBI developed a unified data platform, combining customer, transactional, and operational data. This combination allowed them to gain a comprehensive view of their operations and convert data into actionable insights, thereby driving business innovation, enhancing customer experiences, and improving operational efficiency. RBI’s successful migration to AWS equipped them to maximize these benefits.

Choice Hotels Migration Path: Website/ecommerce Platform MigrationFigure 2 – The Digital Cloud Migration Journey

Figure 2 – The Digital Cloud Migration Journey

For travel and hospitality companies, the migration or refactoring of websites, mobile applications, and guest-oriented applications often marks the initial step towards cloud adoption. This is an ideal starting point due to the straightforward nature of these workloads and the promising return on investment (ROI) potential that arises from increased guest engagement and sales.

Such companies frequently face the challenge of managing multiple websites tailored for different purposes such as staff, guests, franchisees, and other users. These sites, usually hosted on-premises, are demanding to manage and necessitate peak usage provisioning, resulting in underutilized hardware. Further, isolated data sources may lead to inconsistencies in the information disseminated across various user groups, causing operational inefficiencies. A shift to a modern, cloud-based website addresses these problems, ensuring all stakeholders can readily access information.

Choice Hotels stands as a pioneering example of this approach. As one of the earliest hotel companies to fully embrace AWS for its IT needs, Choice Hotel worked closely with AWS to modernize its digital and ecommerce platforms. They crafted the first cloud-hosted global reservation system global reservation system, ChoiceEDGE, thereby revolutionizing their operational dynamics. This system became the definitive source for hotel availability, rates, and inventory—supporting billions of hotel rooms through Choice’s mobile app and website.

This migration required a significant organizational and cultural transformation, calling for a startup-like mentality to focus the team’s efforts on the initiative. Despite these challenges, ChoiceEDGE was launched with zero downtime during the peak summer travel season, showcasing their resilience. Post-migration, Choice Hotels not only phased out their data centers, but also established a unified data platform and dismantled operational silos. This led to heightened operational efficiencies and improved guest experiences.

In Conclusion

The migration to AWS Cloud has helped both RBI and Choice Hotels maintain operational agility while driving innovation. They have successfully catered to escalating data demands without the need for continuous infrastructure and storage expansion. These examples provide valuable precedents for other businesses considering a similar journey.

Like Choice and RBI, many travel and hospitality companies embark on their journey with a single workload—such as a website migration or optimizing IT resources. Upon witnessing the benefits, they continue to migrate more data and applications until they finally create a unified data platform. It’s important to remember that each phase of migration is a step in a successful, iterative journey. As you migrate more applications, you will improve the repeatability and predictability of your processes; thereby, streamlining the migration process.

Contact an AWS Representative to know how we can help accelerate your business.

Further Reading

Jihwan Ko

Jihwan Ko

Jihwan leads a global program that supports travel and hospitality customers in the early stages of cloud adoption to accelerate their cloud journey. Before joining AWS, Jihwan was a corporate strategy manager and industry analyst in technology companies, including Google and Samsung Electronics. At TMON, one of South Korea’s leading ecommerce companies, he created a cross-selling tourism package platform. He also raised $240 million in investment funds from private equity and strategic investors. He was raised in Seoul, South Korea, and has an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and a BS in business administration from Hanyang University in South Korea.