Has the travel, transport & hospitality industry moved forward with cloud deployment?

Naresh Prabhu Ramaswamy
Vice President – Practice and Solutions Sales, Travel, Hospitality, Manufacturing, and Logistics Practice
Article

With evolving business needs, continuous changes in technology and business models, the travel, transportation & hospitality (TTH) industry is constantly trying to rejig its technology strategy and lead the disruption. To enable legacy modernization and improve customer experience, several industry leaders have adopted cloud-based technologies to accelerate their business outcomes.

As per the ‘Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Survey by LogicMonitor, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. Today, cloud computing is not just a part of the basic email storage mechanism but an orchestrator of integrated and agile transformation.

Through dynamic industry partnerships and analyzing the industry-wide popular cloud adoption success stories, we have picked the top five use cases from the travel, transportation and hospitality industry that are not just quick wins but examples of long term success with cloud :

Scalability:

An Athenian company that operates one of Athens’ most visited online portal was not able to expand beyond the European market due to its unreliable hardware infrastructure. The system would fail during peak time in the morning hours and worse during holiday planning seasons.

The company aimed to eliminate application downtime that led to reduced customer satisfaction and increased cost. They began with cloud migration by using fraud prevention services with AWS. They gradually migrated the flight booking and ticketing applications to the cloud, a move that helped them in early detection and prevention of application failure, reduce manual intervention, and simplify operations through integrated systems.

Amazon Elastic Cloud (EC2) with elastic load balancing was used to balance the load between various applications used by the company. By moving the platform to AWS Cloud, and using the various reusable services in AWS, the company was able to get into the market quickly ensuring 99.99% availability (Source:aws.amazon.com)

Personalization:

There are two types of commonly known personalization – one using implied data and the other using derived data. Implied data means the personally identifiable information and any additional information shared by the traveler/guest. Derived data refers to the insights derived from the customer’s history, such as behavioral habits or transactions made.

To realize the full potential of implied and derived data, organizations have cloud platforms with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services that enable the reuse of data to customize offerings for customers.

For example, Google’s AI cloud platform uses unique algorithms to help organizations reuse AI content that is privately hosted for internal stakeholders. Several such established frameworks on the cloud platform are available for reuse, that connect external sources to personalize the recommendations and offerings.

A classic example will be a destination recommended for luxury solo travelers with an easy-to-navigate reservation path that suggests suitable products based on customer’s preferences of stay, interests, social media comments, or affiliations. It will help organizations avoid any unwanted cross/up-sell products in the customer’s reservation journey.

Search:

Enterprise search in the cloud platform can be used for effective and efficient knowledge management. In an interesting case, the service center agent of a leading organization in the cruise industry spent more than 10 minutes to search for hotels near a destination chosen by a prime customer.

The agent manually searched through various online portals to suggest an ideal list of hotels to complete booking a package trip along with their cruise service. This huge wait time led to dissatisfaction and a reduction in the productivity of the customer service workforce.

To alleviate the wait time and improve productivity, the company implemented an effective knowledge management strategy and a cognitive search approach with the smart implementation of enterprise search enabled by the cloud platform. And due to effective cognitive search, the turnaround time to the client was reduced from 10 minutes to 2 minutes per customer.

This led to a cumulative saving of more than 125-man hours in a service center with 300 agents.

Internet of Things (IoT):

Cloud adoption has accelerated the adoption of IoT, and the TTH has already taken advantage of converting physical moments, actions, and assets into digital capabilities. There are several use cases on the successful implementation of IoT as a technology, where it has captured the digital moments of guests or travelers. In the transportation industry, industrial IoT plays a vital role in supply chain activities. Some of the top use cases on IoT implementation in the TTH industry are around the following:

    • Seamless frictionless guest experience (track the full lifecycle of a traveler/guest especially during travel)
    • Real-time tracking and tracing of bags, parcels
    • Optimization of fleet, space, and parking
    • Space optimization
    • Inventory

One of the well-known examples is about the luxurious hotel Crowne Plaza, Belgrade, that recently adopted the Microsoft Azure Cloud IoT platform to enhance the parking experience for their guests. The mobile application gives real-time information on parking availability to the hotel and guests. The whole project took only eight weeks for completion.

This greenfield development would have taken more about three to four months without cloud adoption. With successful cloud migration, the client enhanced customer experience in no time.

Conversational Commerce:

Gartner forecasts increase in the adoption of conversational commerce from 4% to 25% by 2020. Conversational chatbots are turning into indispensable smart assistants for major TTH companies. Google has introduced several virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, which can be utilized by Dialogflow Enterprise on the Google Cloud Platform.

The adoption of conversational commerce has spring boarded due to the scalability and flexibility in the cloud platform. As per a recent report, easyJet, a leading European airline along with Travelport, a leading travel commerce platform, has enabled flight search in their mobile platform.

This has drastically reduced a 12-tap flight search process to only a few seconds for their customers. According to the report, this mobile platform will be further enhanced for flight booking through automated voice assistance.

The move to cloud is not a one size fits all. There are many options to choose from, like using a single cloud provider or following a hybrid strategy to take cost advantage of the cloud platform. Some key questions that organizations should introspect over are:

  • Which services should we subscribe to in the cloud platform?
  • Should we have a single or hybrid provider strategy?
  • My platform is still slow. Does my business have latency issues?
  • Is data security compromised in our company’s cloud strategy?

As several organizations in the TTH industry realize cloud’s potential and are focused on increasing investments in cloud strategy, they are looking for good system integrators who are approved vendors for the cloud platform and have experience in distributed and hybrid cloud strategies.

In the evolving digital economy, businesses need to focus on selling experiences rather than products. Tapping this evolving technology will help companies in the TTH industry to sell this experience and benefit from higher margins, have better cost advantage, launch products in the right manner to the right people, and provide meaningful services to customers.

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