Hoteliers need to accelerate innovation says Amazon’s Greg Land

Greg Land

Last week’s Global Revenue Forum 2024 took place concurrently in Lisbon, London, Milan and Stockholm with a ‘Roadmap to Resilience’ theme. Hosted by Ally Northfield, managing director, Revenue By Design, the event attracted around 1,200 revenue managers and industry leaders to debate and discuss how hotels can optimise commercial performance and build resilience in a market characterised by ongoing unpredictability and challenges.

I caught up with keynote speaker Greg Land, global segment leader – accommodation, lodging, casino and cruise at Amazon, who gave industry leaders a unique insight on resilience, industry trends and innovation to stay ahead in travel and hospitality. Here is a summary of the main points from his presentation. All statistics quoted are from the 2023 Skift Digital Transformation Report commissioned by Amazon.

Resilience

Resilience refers to the ability for workloads to respond to and quickly recover from failures. System downtimes (failures) cost businesses between $1.25 – $2.5 billion annually, and when a service is not available when customers need it, it negatively impacts on an organisation’s brand. With an ‘always on, always available’ mindset, organisations need to be more resilient than ever and build a culture around this.

94 per cent of travel and hospitality executives say digital transformation is very or somewhat important for the overall strategy and success of their business.

Industry trends

Market factors driving digital transformation:

• Elasticity and resiliency – Customers adjusting to fast-evolving market environments seek the key benefits of agility, cost savings, elasticity, and the ability to quickly scale.

• Business transformation – 81 per cent of travel and hospitality leaders have increased budgets for digital transformation.

• Reinventing and innovating – Travel and hospitality leaders are reimagining how they serve customers and manage operations, renewing shelved projects, and prioritising resources that innovate and streamline their businesses.

In 2022, the most likely business disruption for travel and hospitality was: legacy/outdated technology (33 per cent); labour shortages (32 per cent); and cybersecurity (30 per cent). However in 2023, opinions shifted: cybersecurity (46 per cent); labour shortages (35 per cent); and system outages (35 per cent).

Travellers and guests are embracing technology to improve their journey and experience:

• 75 per cent of travellers want hotels with self-service technology.

• 82 per cent of guests will choose a restaurant with self-service kiosks over those without.

• 51 per cent of travellers are willing to share biometric data to facilitate their journey.

Innovation

Travel and hospitality executives say artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will drive business value, but most are still in early/middle stages of adoption. Examples of leading travel and hospitality brands using AI and ML include:

Hyatt delivered personalised recommendations, driving $40 million in incremental revenue in the first six months.

• TUI Group, the largest tour group in the world, used ML to offer dynamic pricing in real-time, increasing the margins on bookings by 53 per cent.

• Ryanair optimised fuel usage, cut C02 emissions, and saved millions of Euros by using ML to predict which aircraft would be most fuel efficient for a particular journey.

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