Improving technology resiliency to weather the slowdown in travel and hospitality
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we place tremendous value and focus on the well-being and safety of our employees, partners, and customers. The Amazon Day One Blog is being updated regularly on all the ways Amazon is working to address this crisis. While the impact has been felt by everyone and across every industry, the spread of COVID-19 and the protective measures being taken to stop it have created particular challenges for many travel and hospitality companies. Across the sector, demand will likely remain impacted for some time. This unprecedented situation has resulted in much uncertainty, but demand will eventually return and industry players will want to ensure they are well positioned to meet that demand when it comes.
Often, challenging times begets incredible innovation and we expect to see new technology, products, services and ways of working emerge from the current situation. As COVID-19 continues to impact the global travel and hospitality ecosystem, we’re hearing of incredible efforts by industry customers to band together and support their peers. For instance, built on AWS, Cloudbeds rapidly modified its hotel management system, and is making it available to manage “beds” for temporary medical, quarantine and overflow facilities – and launched a movement encouraging hotel owners to make their properties available for emergency needs, with more than 1.2M beds being pledged in less than one week. Visit http://www.hospitalityhelps.org/ for more information.
Many of our customers in the travel and hospitality sector have already felt the commercial impact associated with COVID-19 and asked us for practical steps they can take to address immediate technological challenges. Cloud technology inherently breeds innovation as it lessens the need to spend a lot of time on undifferentiated IT offerings and allows companies to focus on their biggest business differentiators and go from idea to implementation several orders of magnitude faster. But right now, travel and hospitality companies are facing many challenges and while technology can only do so much, we hope these four recommendations will be helpful:
1. Optimize, optimize, optimize
Idle airplanes and hotels often incur considerable fixed costs, but the same doesn’t have to be true of a company’s technology infrastructure. There’s never been a better time to make the most efficient use of cloud resources. To get the full benefits of cloud, it’s essential to (i) ‘right size’ services based on the workloads, (ii) leverage ‘elastic’ consumption – turning-up and dialing-down resources as required, (iii) adopt multiple pricing models – using on demand, Reserved and Spot Instances effectively, and (iv) optimize appropriate storage tier needs. We encourage customers to explore the AWS Trusted Advisor online tool, which provides real-time guidance to help provision AWS resources effectively. Similarly, customers can use the free AWS Well-Architected Tool, to ensure systems are deployed against architectural best practice—and optimized for security, resiliency and cost efficiency. AWS account and technical teams are primed and ready to assist with any hands-on support needed by customers to immediately optimize resources.
2. Automate, monitor, repeat
Given that cloud resources are available on short-notice and elastic (they can be scaled up or down as needed), it’s essential to manage these resources differently than traditional, on-premise IT resources — which are provisioned typically for peak scale and are generally ‘always on’. With cloud resources charged on a pay-as-you-go model, it is normal for AWS customers to benefit from auto-scaling techniques to provision just the right amount of services needed in the moment. We encourage our customers in travel and hospitality to use Amazon CloudWatch to automate the operational performance and resource optimization of their AWS environments – including the termination of unused or underutilized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances (compute resources). Auto scaling enables capacity to be added or removed as required – and should be ‘table stakes’ for travel and hospitality customers (there’s more about EC2 Auto Scaling here, and application scaling with AWS Auto Scaling here).
3. Uncertainty begets innovation
In times like these, travelers and guests alike seek out assurances, reassurances, and information. This can put a strain on traditional channels of communication for travel and hospitality companies – not least where companies are having to consider limiting working hours for employees or new models of working (such as remote working and working from home). Jeff Barr offered ways AWS can help those working from home in a recent blog post.
To respond urgently to evolving demands for information and advice, travel and hospitality companies are well-positioned to leverage innovative channels for immediately satisfying consumer needs. For example, Ryanair turned to Amazon Lex and Amazon SageMaker to rapidly deploy a chatbot to handle customer service automation and improve customer support. And customers around the world and across industries are using Amazon Connect to set up contact centers in the cloud. This allows them to handle high-volumes of customer calls from around the world with the ability to scale up and down as needed. This is allowing customers to rapidly deploy contact centers while allowing agents to continue serving customers from the comfort and safety of their home.
As companies look to flexible working practices, Amazon Chime enables chat, video meetings and calls to be placed (both inside and outside an organization), all using a single application. Amazon WorkSpaces is a managed desktop-as-a-service solution that enables companies to provision Windows or Linux desktops in the cloud in minutes – again, a scalable, secure solution for remote workers, or even managing corporate IT environments remotely, as Quiznos has done.
4. Build skills to drive change
Regardless of how long the current situation continues, once it has passed, travel and hospitality companies will still be driven to innovate faster to drive consumer demand for their products and services. They’re going to need efficient and optimized operations to survive, adjust and respond. Whether teams continue to work from office locations, from home or elsewhere, investing in skills development has never been more needed. While this is a hectic time for many, it is worth trying to carve out time to provide upskilling opportunities for employees. AWS provides an extensive digital training curriculum directed at both business and technical roles – designed to enable organizations to maximize their potential with the cloud. Explore AWS Training and Certification here.
As the situation continues to develop, we remain focused on the safety and well-being of our colleagues, customers and partners. The travel and hospitality industry—like its guests, travelers, and customers—is resilient, transforming and building for a sustainable future. We look forward to seeing travel and hospitality companies once again thriving and helping their customers experience all this world has to offer.