AWS for Industries

How six AWS travel and hospitality leaders are transforming the industry

80 Years – 50 Years – 6 Years – and all ready for the future

Choice Hotels has served customers for more than 80 years. Korean Air Lines is celebrating 50 years of flight. Deliveroo has been satiating diners for just a little over six years now.

Executives from these travel and hospitality leaders, as well as Hyatt Hotels, United Airlines, and Yanolja recently shared insights around their companies’ business transformations and secrets to delivering personalized guest experiences.

Speaking at AWS re:Invent 2019, Amazon Web Services’ week-long customer conference in Las Vegas, executives from these six companies revealed inspiring stories of how their brands stay relevant against the backdrop of an every-changing customer landscape.

Keep reading to learn more and see the videos of the sessions.

Transforming to stay ahead

Our re:Invent 2019 journey began with the announcement that Best Western Hotels and Resorts is moving its infrastructure to AWS, going all-in the world’s leading cloud. Best Western will leverage AWS to automate processes and quickly develop new and more personalized experiences for travelers visiting its more than 4,700 properties around the world. You can read more about this in the press release announcement.

Opening the re:Invent 2019 Travel & Hospitality Executive Leadership session, Kenny Chang, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Korean Air, confessed that despite celebrating its 50th anniversary, the airline needed to “change the way we operate and service our customers” in order to become “the most loved airline in the world.”

Choosing AWS to replace the airline’s aging technology infrastructure, Chang said, “We made a decision to break how we were working – especially from the IT perspective – and be able to deliver for the business what they were looking for, faster, so they can actually satisfy customers.”

Brian Kirkland, Chief Technology Officer of Choice Hotels International, presented after Chang. Reflecting on Choice Hotels’ decision earlier in 2019 to go “all-in” with AWS and the progress made to date, Kirkland acknowledged that “cost and performance are not the only reasons we’re moving to the cloud … the digital evolution of our industry requires it. Technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and VR, they are causing fundamental shifts in what our guests expect.”

With a mission to become the definitive food company, Deliveroo was built as a company that is global in scale. Will Sprunt, Chief Information Officer, observed that “we’re in a dramatically growing, and dramatically changing industry – and if we’re not innovating, somebody else is. Speed to market, speed of development, and speed of innovating are all the things that keep our business alive.”

Watch the complete recording from the AWS re:Invent Travel & Hospitality Executive Leadership session.

One customer at a time

Despite being a short 6,500 miles or 14-hour flight apart, Chicago and Seoul have plenty in common. Hometowns that have inspired both United Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, and Yanolja, respectively, each of these companies seek to offer unique and personalized guest experiences, while differentiating their products and services in crowded markets. Yet, they are implementing personalization in very diverse ways.

United Airlines Vice President of Digital Products and Analytics, Praveen Sharma, talked during the re:Invent 2019 “Personalizing customer experiences in Travel and Hospitality” session about loyalty gamification. United Airlines understands scale, with over 1 billion digital interactions a year across its digital channels, servicing 158 million passengers a year across over 4,900 flights a day.

With this complexity and volume, Sharma spoke about the use of machine learning to deliver personalization at each of the five stages of a journey, which he defined as: Inspire, book, airport, onboard, and post-travel. United’s Mile Play application learns from passengers’ interactions to offer more personalized games and offers, at scale.

Mile Play provided the inspiration for Seoul-headquartered Yanolja (or “hey, let’s have fun” in English), which operates 1,200 hotels and provides technology systems to more than 26,000 properties.

Jong Yoon Kim, Yanolja’s CEO, spoke about the complexity of delivering personalized experiences.

When “the value chain is totally segmented … it’s impossible to make data flow in a frictionless way,” he said.

By building its own technology systems from the ground up with AWS, Yanolja has been able to overcome these legacy issues to offer frictionless guest experiences.

SriHari Thotapalli, Global Head of Analytics at Hyatt Hotels, spoke to his company’s desire to “make property recommendations that guests are likely to book.”

He also highlighted the need for technology to enhance the human connection and experience guests have come to expect at their properties. Using data to drive insights and personalized recommendations, Hyatt has driven over $40 million of incremental revenue in less than six months.

Thotapalli explained, “With the right tools, anything is possible. With AWS, we have the right tools.”

Watch the complete recording from the AWS re:Invent Travel & Hospitality Personalization session.

Thank you to all those that contributed to AWS re:Invent 2019, whether on stage or in the audience. I’m excited to see all the innovation that follows and am counting down the days to AWS re:Invent 2020. See you there.

Learn more about AWS for the Travel and Hospitality industry