Plaza Premium Digitalizes the Travel Journey on AWS


Setting the Standard for Airport Hospitality

With more than 180 locations across 49 international airports, Plaza Premium Group is a leader in airport hospitality and serves more than 20 million global passengers annually. The group has five core business segments including airport lounges, terminal hotels, meet-and-greet services, and a range of dining concepts. Launched in 1998 and headquartered in Hong Kong, Plaza Premium Group provides airport hospitality solutions with a mission to make travel better.

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Running on AWS gives us new ideas and technology to innovate our products while also cutting expansion costs by 40 percent.”

Alan Chung
Global Head of IT and Digital Innovation, Plaza Premium Group

Seeking a Scalable Solution

Until 2017, the group ran its own on-premises data centers. However, the business has been growing rapidly year on year, and Plaza Premium Group was facing technology constraints to cope with the pace of expansion. Network traffic, which is determined by traveler load, was unpredictable, and the IT team struggled to scale its computing resources fast enough when traffic spiked.

“Hardware and software management was painful because we needed a lot of time and resources to perform upgrades and security patching,” explains Rayson Wong, IT infrastructure manager at Plaza Premium Group. Upon evaluating different infrastructure setups, the group identified cloud computing as the best option for improving stability and scalability. It began migrating its lounge management system and other web applications to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud that same year.

“We chose AWS because of its global footprint, security, and high scalability. We are scaling into more airports, and using AWS has sped up our deployment thanks to the simplicity of meeting various compliance requirements on data protection and storage,” says Alan Chung, global head of IT and Digital Innovation.

Automating Compliance and Deployment

With its underlying infrastructure running on the AWS Cloud, Plaza Premium Group reduces maintenance requirements and operational risks as it expands globally. The group uses AWS CloudHSM to automate management of its encryption keys across global markets, and it relies on AWS CloudTrail as a compliance control to consolidate log retention. In particular, using AWS CloudTrail has reduced the company’s financial and operational burden of on-premises licenses or virtual appliances because it no longer needs to allocate storage to logs.

Furthermore, as Plaza Premium Group captures a large amount of sensitive data on customers, including credit card details for payment processing, it values the fact that AWS is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certified. Now, the group can focus on improving other areas of the business knowing that its infrastructure fully complies with global information security standards.

Running on AWS has also enabled Plaza Premium Group to deploy its services in a new location 20 times faster, using automated provisioning tools such as AWS CloudFormation. “In the past, it took at least three to four months to roll out a new location and data center, but on AWS we’ve shortened that to one to two weeks,” Chung says.

Achieves a Faster Check-in Process

Delivering a superior digital customer experience is Plaza Premium Group’s top priority. By using Amazon CloudFront for low-latency content delivery, customers in international airports have a smoother and faster lounge check-in experience. This is particularly important for business travelers, who made up over 70 percent of the group’s digital customer base in 2019.

“System performance and stability have improved significantly on AWS,” Chung says. “Previously, lounge employees had to revert to a manual check-in process when they experienced system lags, which were frequent.” Although the internal service level agreement (SLA) varies by customer type and location, travelers can generally expect digital check-in times at Plaza Premium lounges of less than a minute. Achieving consistent SLAs such as this is important to building and maintaining the brand’s customer-service commitment.

Developing a SaaS Consumption Model

With travel patterns shifting in 2020, many full-service airlines are reevaluating the benefit-to-cost ratio of their lounge operations. Companies are seeking new ways to incentivize customers to visit lounges, and strategic partnerships will be key to innovating experiences that renew confidence in the travel market. In parallel to its cloud migration, Plaza Premium Group has been reengineering its lounge management system to make it available as a software as a service (SaaS) solution and open doors to strategic partnerships.

Airlines can now access Plaza Premium Group’s standard APIs to create new personalized experiences for their lounge customers, leveraging the behavioral data tracked and stored by the group. The subscription-based SaaS offering includes API integration with other airlines’ legacy systems and a cloud delivery model that speeds time-to-market. Plaza Premium Group uses Amazon API Gateway as a communication bridge for applications to securely access data across internal networks.

“Our AWS Cloud infrastructure laid the foundation that enabled us to achieve our SaaS vision and elevate the digital customer experience,” Chung explains. With its SaaS platform, Plaza Premium Group is not only able to capture data to enhance personalization, but it can also address hygiene concerns with the promotion of contactless transactions throughout its outlets.

New App Supports Collaborative Technology

With its lounge management system fully migrated to the AWS Cloud, Plaza Premium Group is also revamping its platform to support microservices as part of its larger digital transformation plan. The microservices architecture will enhance open API integration with the group’s partners and further accelerate time-to-market.

Just this year, Plaza Premium Group launched its app-based Smart Traveller airport rewards program, where members can earn points redeemable for the group’s hospitality services or private lounges of partner airlines. The group believes collaboration and technology are key to keeping up with changes in the travel industry, and Smart Traveller is an integrated platform positioned to connect the airport ecosystem worldwide.

“Our engineers regularly participate in AWS webinars, which inspire them to develop new solutions,” Chung says. “Running on AWS gives us new ideas and technology to innovate our products while also cutting expansion costs by 40 percent.”

About Plaza Premium Group

With services in 180 locations across 49 international airports, Plaza Premium Group sets the global standard for airport hospitality excellence. The group operates its own branded lounges in addition to partner lounges, airport terminal hotels, airport meet-and-greet services, and dining concepts.

Benefits of AWS

  • Deploys services in a new location 20 times faster
  • Improves stability and performance of lounge management system
  • Leverages modern technology to innovate new products
  • Automates compliance and security policies across the globe
  • Integrates with legacy systems using open APIs
  • Reduces expansion costs by 40%

AWS Services Used

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail is a service that enables governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing of your AWS account. With CloudTrail, you can log, continuously monitor, and retain account activity related to actions across your AWS infrastructure. CloudTrail provides event history of your AWS account activity, including actions taken through the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command line tools, and other AWS services.

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Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment. CloudFront is integrated with AWS – both physical locations that are directly connected to the AWS global infrastructure, as well as other AWS services.

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AWS CloudHSM is a cloud-based hardware security module (HSM) that enables you to easily generate and use your own encryption keys on the AWS Cloud. With CloudHSM, you can manage your own encryption keys using FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated HSMs.

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Amazon API Gateway

Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale. APIs act as the "front door" for applications to access data, business logic, or functionality from your backend services. Using API Gateway, you can create RESTful APIs and WebSocket APIs that enable real-time two-way communication applications. API Gateway supports containerized and serverless workloads, as well as web applications.

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