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Duetto in Conversation with Amazon Web Services

Duetto’s CEO David Woolenberg enjoyed a Fireside Chat with Joanna Todd, WW Head of Accommodations and Lodging, Amazon Web Services (AWS) at this year’s Virtual Revenue Strategy Forum.

Here’s a brief summary of their conversation.

To hear this interview in full watch the Virtual Revenue Strategy Forum On-Demand anytime.

Can you explain what the AWS travel vertical looks like? What is your core business? How do you serve the industry?

Let’s flashback to what was in 2004. The company realized its scale of business was outpacing its tech capability to run efficiently so we created an IT infrastructure to become more efficient and scaled it as we grew. It was all web-based and was the foundation of what today is cloud computing.

We have a scope of responsibility for the industry as a whole, including airlines, airports, ground transportation, hotels, casinos, cruise lines, etc. The AWS travel vertical is made up of people who come from the industry. This was really important to AWS; we want to make sure what we do is informed by the industry itself. This brings a lot of experience and depth of understanding to the conversations we have with our customers.

Are there any exciting trends you are seeing as you have conversations with your customers?

The COVID crisis has accelerated the industry’s move to the cloud and to innovate and adapt more quickly.

We’ve seen six trends in the last 12-15 months:

  • Saving money – Cost savings are not a new industry trend, but what has been highlighted is that every company has to do more with less. As demand returns companies want to drive top-line revenue, but that doesn’t mean they are profitable yet. Hotel companies are managing costs to get to profitability quicker.

Revenue management is the backbone of the industry. Hotels need to lean in with the right pricing for their properties for different room types and customer types. This helps control expenses overall and impacts the bottom line.

  • Digital transformation – More companies have emerged that are digital natives. Their businesses started without the challenges of on-premise systems. They are born in the cloud and of a digital age. As those disruptors come into the marketplace, legacy players are moving to digital transformation at a pace we have not seen before.
  • Optimization and automation – Thinking about what happened last year - all of a sudden there was this fast and furious need to get people working from home just as efficiently as if they were in the office. Businesses have to lean on tech more to keep those core business elements up and running. This will extend beyond the pandemic itself: working smarter, doing more with less will be critical for recovery for the industry as a whole.
  • Personalization – This is for Revenue Management leaders in particular. It’s about personalizing the right offer on the right channel at the right time and executing against a vision that is customer-centric. That’s a tough challenge but something that is going to be key in driving profitability.
  • Security and data privacy – No company wants to be that new headline on a data breach. It puts not only actual consumer data at risk, but it erodes public confidence and trust in your business when it happens, not to mention just sort of the ever-evolving landscape of government regulations around data management that vary across countries. It's a lot to manage. It's a complex space. But it's an absolutely critical one in terms of being able to sustain the business.
  • Sustainability – The hotel industry as a whole is asset-heavy. But there is a drive to enact meaningful change to the business, to be more sustainable. Companies are doing it because they want to have less of an environmental impact, and to build guest goodwill.

And finally, what advice can you offer to businesses looking to start adopting a cloud-based tech stack, and what are the keys to success?

Cloud tech can play a real role in accelerating your business transformation by creating operational efficiencies and improving the guest experience. Those are the two areas where AWS can support the hospitality business.

Working with companies like Duetto, which runs on AWS, is how we are helping to accelerate industry growth.

Adopting new tech can be daunting if you are at ground zero and thinking about where you want to go. And so you need to have a priority conversation about where to start. This could be your call center, for example. It doesn’t have to be an all-in migration.

For revenue management, companies are sitting on a wealth of data today, and quite often this is sitting in siloed buckets. If you can’t access it in one spot and create actionable insights from it in real-time you are at a huge competitive disadvantage. Companies adopting real-time analytics and dynamic pricing are the companies that are going to win in the long run.

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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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