AWS for Industries

The future of more sustainable travel starts with the cloud

“Can you imagine if we all moved to the cloud?”

It sounds like a perfect tagline for an Amazon Web Services (AWS) commercial, doesn’t it?

Shawn Seaton, Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture and Distinguished Cloud Architect for Choice Hotels, posed this question to the audience at AWS re:Invent 2022 during the session, Transforming hospitality for the customer of the future. Choice Hotels found that when they went all-in on the cloud, they were able to reduce costs, gain efficiencies, become more agile, and improve their environmental footprint.

It was a theme heard throughout the conference as companies explore how to improve their sustainability efforts using technology.

Choice Hotels isn’t leaving sustainability to chance

Choice Hotels takes its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) responsibilities seriously. As Seaton put it, “ESG is all about making sure that when companies succeed, they also have a positive impact on the world.” Choice Hotels has had a “Room to be Green” initiative in its hotels and corporate offices for 10 years. Now, it is also piloting a new Commitment to Green initiative that uses AWS as it builds an  energy tracking dashboard with Schneider Electric, which automates the tracking of energy in each of its hotels. The dashboard automatically syncs each month with the hotel’s utility company.

Choice Hotels also provides all of its properties with access to data from the Choice Hotels Owners Profitability System (CHOPS). This integrated profitability system combines hotel advising, benchmarking, and education into Choice’s proprietary AWS-based property management system, choiceADVANTAGE, to help hotels set goals and measure against them. This system helped one Florida hotel realize its water costs were significantly higher than other hotels. After investigating, the hotel discovered that its swimming pool leaked 4—6 inches per day and its toilets had slow water leaks. The CHOPS data helped the hotel save tens of thousands of dollars annually and reduce its water usage.

Cvent and Amex GBT are using the cloud to make corporate travel more sustainable

While corporate travel spend is still below the $1.4 trillion spent in 2019, business travel and in-person conference attendance is on the rise. Cvent and American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT)  want to ensure that their corporate customers and travelers can once again connect in person while meeting their sustainability goals.

During his AWS on Air appearance, David Quattrone, Co-Founder and CTO at Cvent, a leading hospitality technology provider, shared the steps Cvent is taking to reduce its own environmental impact while also helping its customers do the same.

Like Choice Hotels, Cvent migrated its data centers to the cloud for several reasons, including reducing carbon emissions. Cvent followed techniques in the AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar, which advises how to optimize AWS architectures using managed services, auto scaling groups, automated monitoring, and more to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions. As a result of the migration, Cvent reduced its IT carbon emissions by 78 percent.

During the session, How AWS is enabling travel to fly into the future, David Thompson, CTO at Amex GBT, the world’s leading B2B travel platform, shared that one of the key drivers for building on AWS was environmental sustainability. The company is committed to leading the way to a low-carbon economy by helping its clients and travelers on their decarbonization journey.

Amex GBT has set three key targets on environmental sustainability: The first is to establish Amex GBT as the green marketplace for corporate travel. To achieve this goal, his team has integrated carbon calculations across its portfolio of managed travel solutions, including the Neo online booking platform. Travelers can find and book the most environmentally conscious travel options. For example, they can sort by CO2 emissions in the search results, and easily identify hotels that meet their company’s sustainability criteria. Carbon calculations are also available in travel managers’ data analytics.

Amex GBT does not plan to stop there. They also are committed to setting their own science-based targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the end of 2023. The goals reaffirm the company’s determination to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while helping our clients and travelers on their decarbonization journeys. Finally, from their position as the world’s largest travel management company, Amex GBT is working with Shell Aviation to scale sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) across the entire airline value chain to target net-zero aviation by 2050.

Amazon and AWS are committing to sustainability

Customers like Choice Hotels, Cvent, and Amex GBT have collaborated with AWS because they know Amazon and AWS shares a commitment to sustainability.

As part of The Climate Pledge, Amazon, including AWS, is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, Amazon is on a path to power its operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. At AWS re:Invent 2022, AWS also announced it will be water positive (water+) by 2030, returning more water to communities than it uses in its direct operations.

These initiatives are backed by measurable metrics. AWS infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of U.S. enterprise data centers surveyed and up to five times more energy efficient than the average in Europe according to 451 Research. AWS’s 2021 global water use efficiency (WUE) metric of 0.25 liters of water per kilowatt-hour also demonstrates our leadership in water efficiency among cloud providers.

What if?

Seaton ended his presentation with another set of poignant questions. What happens if we maintain status quo? If we don’t invest in sustainable business and IT practices? What impact would we be having on the environment, our customers, our employees, our families, and generations to come?

Seaton and the team at AWS are optimistic we can all make a difference starting now.

If you want to learn how AWS can help you reach your sustainability goals, visit

Heidi Bonjean

Heidi Bonjean

Heidi Bonjean is the worldwide head of marketing for travel and hospitality at AWS. Over the course of her career, she has supported the travel and hospitality industry in marketing roles at corporate travel management agencies, a leading hotel brand, and a market research firm. Heidi has a Masters of Business Administration from DePaul University. In her free time, she loves traveling and trying new restaurants with her family.