01/04/2021
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Watch Wyndham, Star Alliance, and Just Eat Takeaway Reveal their Tech Advantage

Lisa Terry
Contributing Editor
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Hospitality executives across the industry have shared a common imperative at the top of their to-do lists in recent years: Becoming ever more agile and innovative to support the guest experience. But when the pandemic hit, many were forced to put the brakes on these initiatives to attend to more immediate needs.

While their task lists were largely the same—cutting costs, supporting work from home and retooling processes to support COVID-safe travel—their results were not. Many firms struggled, but a select few enacted these changes with lightning speed, while still moving forward on the innovative projects they were working on when lockdowns began.

That agility created a huge competitive advantage, one that will continue to play out as they carry on introducing new products and services while others play catch-up.

Three of those executives revealed the secret behind those success stories at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services’ must-attend annual event for everything cloud. Now that must-see content is available on demand for hospitality executives who missed out on the new ideas they shared at the December, 2020 conference. Executives from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Star Alliance, and Just Eat Takeaway—the $7.8 billion European food delivery company currently acquiring Grubhub—explain the not just why they use public cloud technology, but how they leveraged it to navigate the choppy waters of the pandemic.

This is essential information for hospitality tech leaders under pressure in their own organizations to deliver competitive advantage through IT.

Crediting the Cloud

Public cloud has seen impressive overall adoption rates thanks to the value it delivers, chief among them lowering costs while enabling innovation and scalability. Turns out, those benefits were particularly useful for these three leading hospitality companies to respond to COVID-19.

Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance

Reducing Costs: Cloud is a key ingredient in Star Alliance’s intention to become the most digitally advanced global airline alliance. The Alliance went “all in” with AWS to make that possible. That decision has proven highly prescient, allowing Star Alliance to achieve significant cost savings—including an impressive 25 percent reduction in total cost of ownership— at a time when lower costs are paramount.

“These efficiencies have not come at the price of sacrificing quality,” Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, explains in “How Star Alliance is Building Resilience for the Long Run,” which is available on demand in AWS Re:Invent Session ID: TRV201. “We’ve been able to set higher aspirations, especially in service-level availability.”

In the session, Goh reveals just what Star Alliance was able to achieve beyond saving money, crafting critical new capabilities to elevate the guest experience during the pandemic that other travel companies will now need to emulate.

Scott Strickland, EVP & CIO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Enabling Innovation: For Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the benefits of embracing a cloud-first stance were obvious. But in the throes of COVID, EVP & CIO Scott Strickland says it was the combination of cloud technology and support from the AWS team that enabled near-constant innovation as guest needs evolved and their teams began working from home.

“We were actually able to deliver significant new solutions and functionality during the crisis because we were in a cloud environment,” Strickland says. “Moving off site, we didn’t have to stop development, we didn’t have to stop innovation.”

In his session, (Session ID: TRV202), “How Wyndham Hotels is Building Resilience for the Long Run,” Strickland describes how they leveraged that advantage to develop four innovative ideas to support guests and franchise community, raising a bar that competitors will now need to match.

Richard Haigh, CTO of Just Eat brands at Just Eat Takeaway

Achieving Scalability: Sudden shutdown of indoor dining triggered a huge spike in demand for restaurant food delivery—and a corresponding surge in IT demand. Just Eat Takeaway didn’t just set its sights on managing that traffic; they also wanted to launch a discount program for frontline workers and extend additional discounts and support to restaurants, while also accommodating their own shift to work from home.

That all happened, and more, thanks to an early decision to embrace public cloud, says Richard Haigh, CTO of Just Eat brands at Just Eat Takeaway, in the re:Invent session (Session ID: TRV203), “How Just Eat Takeaway is Building Resilience for the Long Run.” Anyone involved in food service will want to check out his story, particularly since the company’s footprint in the US is about to get a lot bigger.

“There is real power in confidently being able to stitch together off-the-shelf services that are ready to consume, and to do so at scale, and be confident that they can scale,” Haigh. In his session, he shares details of those innovations and the impact they made on all stakeholders.

The approach these leaders have taken to responding nimbly to a crisis—and the new competitive advantages they now wield—are must-see viewing for hospitality executives. Check out these sessions On Demand by following these links and registering for re:Invent for free, or by visiting the AWS re:Invent site and searching for the session names.