Google Cloud expands its partnership in Thailand’s fast-growing travel sector
Google Cloud (Thailand) has levelled up its collaboration with Airports of Thailand Pcl (AOT), SKY ICT Pcl (SKY), and EVME Plus Co Ltd (EVme), with the goal of empowering and reshaping the future of travel through open cloud and advanced analytics technologies.
The move comes as Thailand's tourism industry recovers, with foreign visitors expected to reach 25-30 million this year.
Google Cloud Thailand country manager April Srivikorn said at a media briefing on Tuesday that the expanded partnership will enable airports manager AOT, aviation technology solutions provider SKY, and EVme, an EV lifestyle startup, to access more Google Cloud data and services, allowing them to scale their businesses.
This will enable them to more accurately tailor their products and services to their customers' exact needs and preferences, as well as see some opportunities to accelerate their business or win new customers, she said.
"Our collaboration with AOT, SKY, and EVme will enhance their ability to serve travellers with personalised, digital-first offerings powered by our secure and scalable open data cloud," she noted.
She emphasised the importance of cloud, analytics, and artificial intelligence technologies in assisting travel ecosystem players to meet current soaring demand, solve workforce shortages, and diversify options and services.
The more businesses that can provide quick and convenient information, the more likely travellers will make a decision, April said.
According to latest findings from the e-Conomy SEA 2022 report, more than a half of Thailand's urban digital consumers are already using online travel services, with this category expected to grow 22% year on year and contribute $9 billion to Thailand's digital economy by 2025.
As a result, players in the travel ecosystem cannot afford to overlook the importance of providing digital services that are always-on, simple, personalised, and secure.
Meanwhile, Google search trends indicate that ancillary industries can benefit from Thailand's tourism rebound. In Thailand, search queries for "travel insurance" and "medical tourism" have increased by more than 900% and 500%, respectively, over the past 12 months.
Besides, financial institutions and healthcare providers must devise strategies for providing tailored offerings to travellers seeking peace of mind from unexpected changes or visiting Thailand for specialised medical treatment.
Search queries for "gastronomy tourism" in Thailand have increased by more than 110% in the last year. As a result, there is an opportunity for food industry players to better engage tourists who prioritise tasting and bringing home authentic Thai cuisine.
“When we consider tourism’s economic impact, there’s often a focus on the contribution from core areas like aviation and accommodation – and rightfully so,” April said. “But our analysis also highlights tourism’s impact on other sectors, from financial services to healthcare, retail and transportation.”
She also revealed that in addition to collaborating with Thailand's three major trade ecosystem players, Google is expanding its work with Siam Commercial Bank and Central Retail to support hotel, restaurant, and catering businesses, as well as a large local private healthcare firm to boost medical tourism.
Nithee Seeprae, deputy governor for digitalisation, research, and development at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said during his opening remarks that “because tourism will continue to be one of our country's most important GDP contributors, these insights from Google Cloud could drive industry-wide digital transformation, elevating Thai tourism's overall competitiveness”.
He noted that it was encouraging to see AOT, SKY, and EVme establish themselves at the forefront of digital innovation.
"We hope that more local organisations will adopt new tools from leading technology companies like Google Cloud to attract today's digitally savvy, eco-conscious consumers and inspire them to pursue meaningful travel experiences in Thailand," he said.
Warrawut Santaveesuk, director of AOT Information and Communication Technology Development and Integration Division, said that the demand for both inbound and outbound flights has increased significantly since Thailand reopened its border.
Outbound demand had increased by more than 187% year on year as of March 2023, while inbound demand had increased by more than 161% year on year.
He pointed out that in order to stay ahead of spikes in passenger traffic at its six international airports — Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Hat Yai — AOT and its partner SKY, are migrating AOT's digital real estate to Google Cloud's open, scalable, and secure infrastructure.
As a result, AOT is beginning to reap the benefits of Google Cloud's dynamic autoscaling capabilities, which enable the IT systems that underpin ground aviation services.
Meanwhile, the Sawasdee by AOT mobile application can handle up to 10 times its normal workloads while maintaining a smooth user experience, before automatically scaling down to save money when additional computing resources are no longer required.
"By leveraging Google Cloud's database management services to break down internal data silos, AOT and SKY are improving their ability to deliver real-time airport and flight information to millions of passengers, allowing them to enjoy smoother experiences from check-in to immigration to boarding to baggage collection," Warrawut explained.
Kayon Tantichatiwat, SKY's chief technology officer, said the company is using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to automate application deployment and upgrades without causing downtime.
SKY's technology teams can also avoid time-consuming manual back-end IT configurations and accelerate the regular launch of various new in-app features, such as providing a baggage tracker service for travellers’ peace of mind, a pre-departure travel checklist with useful resources for a safe and hassle-free journey, duty-free e-commerce, an airport loyalty programme, curated travel recommendations, e-payments, and more.
"Google Cloud’s open-source and secure-by-design principles will allow us to seamlessly integrate new technologies like indoor map navigation, smart parking, and biometrics, while encrypting data flows across these systems to ensure user privacy and data security,” he noted.
Jirapong Laokajorn, EVme chief commercial officer, said that one of the key important words for the tourism industry is sustainability, with a growing awareness of tourism's environmental impact.
According to Google Analytics, search queries related to "sustainable tourism" in Thailand have increased by more than 200% in the last year. Indeed, nearly four out of 10 digital consumers in Thailand have stated a willingness to pay more for a sustainable product or service.
To keep up with the trend and support Thailand's transition to a low-carbon society, EVme, a subsidiary of PTT Pcl, is building its electric vehicle (EV) lifestyle application for consumers and businesses entirely on Google Cloud.
He also stated that EVme has used Google Cloud's advanced analytics and business intelligence tools to provide its employees with data-driven insights that help them better understand customer needs and provide personalised interactions.
He explained that this has informed EVme's selection of EV models that can be rented via its mobile application to cater to different lifestyle preferences, where it should connect to more public EV-charging stations to keep up with demand, and its ability to provide customers with timely advice and 24-hour emergency assistance.
"By promoting the widespread use of EVs to mitigate transportation's environmental impact on communities that live near popular tourist destinations, we will continue to drive eco-tourism and the nation's transition towards becoming a low-carbon society," he said.
April assured that Google Cloud would continue to provide intelligent, data-driven capabilities to organisations across industries, allowing them to make smarter business decisions and be part of an integrated ecosystem that delivers world-class visitor experiences.