AWS for Industries

What’s New From re:Invent 2020 – Relevant Travel and Hospitality Launches

With so many launches and announcements of new services and major features during re:Invent, it can be hard to keep track of the most relevant ones for the travel and hospitality industry.

Of the many announcements, three stood out as game changers for our travel and hospitality customers at this crucial time for the industry:

  1. AWS Panorama, a managed service for building, deploying, and managing computer vision applications (Panorama applications) that can be deployed to edge devices (Panorama devices) and can be applied for several applications like contactless check-in, social-distancing, food freshness and quality inspection, and queue depth management at airports, hotels, casinos, conference centers, and restaurants.
  2. Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) Anywhere is a capability in Amazon ECS that enables customers to easily run and manage container-based applications on-premises, including on virtual machines (VMs), bare metal servers, and other customer managed infrastructure. This service along with Amazon EKS Anywhere will allow for flexible cloud adoption models and start to quickly reduce total cost of ownership (TCO).
  3. New features in Amazon Connect including Amazon Connect Voice ID, Amazon Connect Customer Profiles, Contact Lens for Amazon Connect real time, and Amazon Connect Wisdom. These features add to the capabilities of Amazon Connect to quickly personalize and improve the customer experience with omnichannel customer engagement.

While I look forward to these most, let’s take a look at other use cases and details around releases relevant to the travel and hospitality industry:

Modernizing the Customer Service Experience

Customer service is paramount to the guest experience for most travel and hospitality companies. Plans are often changed last minute, or disrupted, and call centers are too often ill-equipped to respond. These new services can help in that area.

Amazon Connect Voice ID (available in preview) provides real-time caller authentication that makes voice interactions in contact centers more secure and efficient. Voice ID provides an additional security layer that doesn’t rely on the caller answering multiple questions (such as birthdate and mother’s maiden name) and makes it easy to enroll and verify customers without changing the natural flow of the conversation. Now travel and hospitality companies can authenticate the caller and pull up their flight, hotel, and food booking just by the sound of their voice.

Amazon AppFlow now enables Amazon Connect Customer Profiles, a new AWS service announced to combine customer profile data from third-party applications such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, Zendesk, and Marketo with information in Amazon Connect without having to build and maintain expensive custom integrations. More information means travel and hospitality companies can provide more personalized experiences to their guests.

Amazon Connect Wisdom uses machine learning (ML) to drastically reduce the time agents spend searching for answers. Today, knowledge articles, Wikis, and FAQs are spread across separate repositories and siloes. Agents lose a lot of time trying to navigate all those databases, and in the meantime, the customer waits for the answer. With Amazon Connect Wisdom, agents use ML to search across connected repositories based on phrases and questions exactly as the customer would ask them to find answers quickly. Wisdom connects to relevant knowledge repositories with built-in connectors for third-party applications like Salesforce and ServiceNow, or other internal knowledge stores to aggregate information such as FAQs, Wikis, documents, and help guides.

Amazon Connect Tasks improves agent productivity and lowers costs by empowering contact center managers to prioritize, assign, and track customer service tasks across the disparate applications used by agents. This includes tasks like following up on a case in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application such as Salesforce, or processing a claim in a business-specific application. You can also automate repetitive work by creating contact flows in Amazon Connect to automate action items that don’t require agent interaction (such as notifying a customer of an update on their case), so that agents can focus more of their time interacting with customers.

Real-time Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, launched at re:Invent 2019, provides a set of ML capabilities integrated into Amazon Connect that analyze call recordings or customer sentiment, trends, and compliance of conversations. Now, Contact Lens supports real-time call analytics capabilities, enabling you to detect customer issues during live calls and resolve them faster.

Optimizing Core Operations

Efficient operations are at the heart of any travel and hospitality company, with planes and trains running on time, kitchens running smoothly and effective orchestration of housekeepers, shift workers and the like. Here are several applied AI/ML services that can be leveraged to optimize core operations:

Amazon Monitron is an end-to-end system that uses ML to detect abnormal behavior in industrial machinery, enabling you to implement predictive maintenance and reduce unplanned downtime.

AWS Panorama is a new machine learning Appliance and SDK, both of which allow organizations to bring computer vision to their on-premises cameras to make automated predictions with high accuracy and low latency. With AWS Panorama, companies can use compute power at the edge (without requiring video streamed to the cloud) to improve their operations, by automating monitoring and visual inspection tasks like contactless check-in, social-distancing, food freshness and quality inspection, and queue depth management at airports, hotels, casinos, conference centers, and restaurants.

Reduce IT Costs

Here are five services that can be leveraged to reduce IT costs, which is especially valuable at this time as companies look to save costs wherever they can.

AWS Proton is the first fully managed application deployment service for container and serverless applications. Platform engineering teams can use Proton to connect and coordinate all the different tools needed for infrastructure provisioning, code deployments, monitoring, and updates.

Amazon Aurora Serverless v2 (Preview) is the new version of Aurora Serverless, an on-demand, automatic scaling configuration of Amazon Aurora that automatically starts up, shuts down, and scales capacity up or down based on your application’s needs. It scales instantly from hundreds to hundreds-of-thousands of transactions in a fraction of a second. As it scales, it adjusts capacity in fine-grained increments to provide just the right amount of database resources that the application needs. There is no database capacity for you to manage, you pay only for the capacity your application consumes, and you can save up to 90% of your database cost compared to the cost of provisioning capacity for peak load.

Babelfish for Amazon Aurora (Preview) is a new translation layer for Amazon Aurora that enables Aurora to understand queries from applications written for Microsoft SQL Server. With Babelfish, applications currently running on SQL Server can now run directly on Aurora PostgreSQL with little to no code changes. Babelfish understands the SQL Server wire-protocol and T-SQL, the Microsoft SQL Server query language, so you don’t have to switch database drivers or re-write all of your application queries.

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) Anywhere (Preview) is a capability in Amazon ECS that enables customers to easily run and manage container-based applications on-premises, including on VMs, bare metal servers, and other customer managed infrastructure. With this service, customers will now be able to use Amazon ECS on any compute infrastructure, whether in AWS Regions, AWS Local Zones, AWS Wavelength, AWS Outposts, or in any on-premises environment, without installing or operating container orchestration software.

Amazon EKS Anywhere is a new deployment option for Amazon EKS that enables you to easily create and operate Kubernetes clusters on-premises, including on your own VMs and bare metal servers. EKS Anywhere provides an installable software package for creating and operating Kubernetes clusters on-premises and automation tooling for cluster lifecycle support.

Connected Experiences

These IOT and ML offerings can help travel and hospitality companies understand customer interactions within a physical space or across multiple channels and provide a seamless connected customer experience.

Amazon SageMaker Data Wrangler takes the tedium out of preparing training data by allowing data scientists and ML engineers to analyze and prepare data for machine learning applications from a single interface. Instead of requiring complex queries to collect data from different sources, SageMaker Data Wrangler connects to data sources with just a few clicks. Its ready-to-use visualization templates and built-in data transforms the process of cleaning, verifying, and exploring data so you can produce accurate ML models without writing a single line of code. Once your training data is prepared, you can automate data preparation and, through integration with SageMaker Pipelines, add it as a step into your ML workflow. This can be used to apply ML to data from multiple data sources to understand customer interactions across multiple channels.

Amazon SageMaker Pipelines is the world’s first ML CI/CD service accessible to every developer and data scientist. SageMaker Pipelines brings CI/CD practices to ML, reducing the months of coding required to manually stitch together different code packages to just a few hours. ML workflows are typically out of reach for all but the largest enterprises because they are hard to build. To build ML workflows, you typically need to create hundreds of code packages for data preparation, model training, and model deployment, and stitch them together so they run as a sequence of steps. The process is tedious and error prone because you need to define the order of the steps while keeping track of dependencies between each step, making it slow and difficult to scale model production.

AWS IoT Greengrass 2.0 is now available. With this major release, AWS IoT Greengrass provides an open-source edge runtime, a rich set of pre-built software components, tools for local software development, and new features for managing device software on large fleets of devices.

I look forward to seeing how these and many other new services launched at re:Invent 2020 go on to impact, and improve, the way we fly, stay, eat, and experience the world in the years to come. Learn more about how AWS is helping transform the travel and hospitality industry at

Sekhar Mallipeddi

Sekhar Mallipeddi

Sekhar is the Worldwide Technical Leader for Travel at AWS with the charter to support and help travel and hospitality customers innovate using AWS cloud to enhance customer experience and improve operational efficiency. Sekhar leads the technical field community for Travel that enables internal AWS teams, ISVs, and GSIs creating technical assets, reference architectures, and solutions. Prior to joining AWS, he spent 20 years in the Travel and Hospitality industry in information technology strategy, cloud strategy, and enterprise architecture roles and built products for aircraft predictive maintenance, revenue management, customer master data management, and analytics. He holds a M.S. in computer science from University of Texas at Arlington, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In his spare time, Sekhar loves to cook and experiment with ingredients and cuisines from around the world, and traveling with his family in search of amazing food and wine and has visited over 40 countries.