Google Cloud announces collaborations with major travel ecosystem players. Airports of Thailand, SKY, and EVme amongst the organizations that are using open cloud and advanced analytics technologies to reshape the future of travel.
BANGKOK, THAILAND – At a press event with Mr. Nithee Seeprae, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s Deputy Governor for Digitalization, Research, and Development, Google Cloud highlighted insights and business opportunities that organizations can capitalize on to advance the country’s travel recovery, following its full reopening. Google Cloud then announced strategic collaborations with Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT), SKY ICT Public Company Limited (SKY), and EVME PLUS Company Limited (EVme), who will adopt Google Cloud’s open data cloud to deliver sustainable, digital-first travel experiences.
Tourism’s Impact on Adjacent Industries
With more than 1 in 2 urban digital consumers in Thailand already using online travel services and this category expected to grow 22% year-on-year and contribute US$9 billion to Thailand’s digital economy by 2025, travel ecosystem players cannot afford to overlook the importance of offering digital services that are always-on, simple, personalized, and secure.
Google search trends suggest that adjacent industries can also seize opportunities presented by Thailand’s tourism rebound. In the past year, search queries related to “travel insurance” and “medical tourism” in Thailand have grown by over 900% and over 500%, respectively1. Financial institutions and healthcare providers must therefore find ways to deliver tailored offerings to travelers who are seeking peace of mind from unexpected changes or visiting Thailand to receive specialized medical treatment.
With search queries related to “gastronomy tourism” in Thailand growing by more than 110% in the past year2, there is an opportunity for food industry players to better engage tourists who make tasting and bringing home authentic Thai cuisine their main focus.
Ms. April Srivikorn, Country Manager, Thailand, Google Cloud, said: “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. But our analysis also highlights tourism’s impact on other sectors, from financial services to healthcare, to retail and transportation. We’re committed to empowering organizations across industries with intelligent, data-driven capabilities to make smarter business decisions and be part of an integrated ecosystem that delivers world-class visitor experiences. Our collaborations with AOT, SKY, and EVme will enhance their ability to serve travelers with personalized, digital-first offerings powered by our secure and scalable open data cloud. This also builds on our work with Siam Commercial Bank and Central Retail to support hotel, restaurant, and catering businesses, and a large local private healthcare firm to boost medical tourism.”
Mr. Nithee Seeprae, Deputy Governor for Digitalization, Research, and Development, Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: “Tourism will continue to be one of our country’s most important GDP contributors – and these insights from Google Cloud align with TAT’s goals of promoting sustainable and responsible tourism, driving industry-wide digital transformation, and elevating Thai tourism’s overall competitiveness. It’s encouraging to see AOT, SKY, and EVme establish themselves at the forefront of digital innovation. We hope that more local organizations can likewise embrace new tools from leading technology firms like Google Cloud to attract today’s digitally savvy, eco-conscious consumers and inspire them to pursue meaningful travel experiences in Thailand.”
Staying Ahead of Resurgent Travel Demand
In Thailand, inbound air travel demand – flights by non-residents to a country – has experienced a massive upturn based on Google search volumes3. On October 1, 2022 – the day Thailand lifted its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, inbound demand saw a year-on-year increase of 386%. This resurgence has continued through to the month of March 2023, which has seen a more than 161% year-on-year increase in inbound demand to date.
Thailand’s outbound air travel demand – flights by its residents to other countries – experienced a similar surge4. On October 1, 2022, outbound demand saw a year-on-year increase of 544%. This resurgence has continued through to the month of March 2023, which has seen a more than 187% year-on-year increase in outbound demand to date.
To stay ahead of spikes in passenger traffic in and out of its six international airports (Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Hat Yai), AOT and its partner SKY—a leading aviation technology solutions provider – are migrating AOT’s digital real estate to Google Cloud’s open, scalable, and secure infrastructure.
As a result, AOT is starting to benefit from Google Cloud’s dynamic autoscaling capabilities, which enable the IT systems underpinning ground aviation services and the SAWASDEE by AOT mobile application to handle up to 10 times their normal workloads with a smooth user experience, before automatically scaling down to reduce costs when additional computing resources are no longer needed. By using Google Cloud’s database management services to break down internal data silos, AOT and SKY are enhancing their ability to push real-time airport and flight information to millions of passengers, thereby allowing them to enjoy smoother experiences from check-in to immigration to boarding to baggage collection.
As SKY transforms SAWASDEE by AOT into an all-in-one “Must Have Thailand Travel App” that offers a full range of tourism-related services, it is using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to automate application deployment and upgrades – without causing downtime. With GKE, SKY’s technology teams can now avoid engaging in time-consuming manual backend IT configurations and accelerate the launch of various new in-app features on a regular basis – from providing a baggage tracker service for traveler peace of mind to a pre-departure travel checklist with useful resources for a safe and hassle-free journey, to duty free e-commerce, an airport loyalty program, curated travel recommendations, e-payments, and more.
Mr. Kittipoj Venunantana, Senior Executive Vice President, Digital and Communications Technology, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, said: “As our industry recuperates from the effects of the past few years, it’s critical that we find the ability to both optimize costs and ramp up our operations. Our choice of SKY as our longstanding partner and Google Cloud as our new primary cloud provider gives us the right combination of automated solutions and deep innovation expertise to deliver high-quality and safe digital-first passenger experiences at scale. Google Cloud’s open data cloud will provide a strong yet flexible foundation for AOT to fulfill our vision of operating the world’s smartest airports and serve as the gateway for tourists to discover and enjoy all that Thailand has to offer.”
Mr. Kayon Tantichatiwat, Chief Technology Officer, SKY ICT Public Company Limited, said: “As the industry recovers, airports must address challenges like optimizing the passenger experience and minimizing disruptions. An airport’s backend IT systems—which are largely invisible but vital to its success—must also remain cohesive yet secure. As Thailand’s leading aviation technology service provider, SKY is committed to partnering with like-minded companies like Google Cloud to deliver trusted solutions that boost tourism and benefit society. 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.”
The Road to Success in Sustainable Tourism
There is a growing consciousness of tourism’s environmental impact, with sustainability emerging as a key consideration when people design their travel itineraries. In the past year, search queries related to “sustainable tourism” in Thailand have increased by more than 200%5. In fact, close to 4 in 10 digital consumers in Thailand have declared their willingness to pay more for a sustainable product or service.
To support Thailand’s transition toward becoming a low-carbon society, EVme, a subsidiary of PTT Public Company Limited (PTT), is building its electric vehicle (EV) lifestyle application for consumers and businesses entirely on Google Cloud, the industry’s cleanest cloud.
EVme has also deployed Google Cloud’s advanced analytics and business intelligence tools to give its staff access to data-driven insights that help them better understand customer needs and deliver personalized interactions. 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 timely advice and 24-hour emergency assistance to customers.
Mr. Jirapong Laokajorn, Chief Commercial Officer, EVME PLUS Company Limited, said: “The concepts of sustainable tourism and mobility are deeply intertwined. At EVme, our goal is to offer Thai people the experience of ‘EV ownership’ through rental services on a modern digital platform at reasonable prices. We’ll continue to drive eco-tourism and the nation’s transition toward becoming a low-carbon society, by promoting the widespread use of EVs to mitigate transportation’s environmental impact on the communities that live near popular tourist destinations. It was a clear choice for us to build our platform on Google Cloud’s open data cloud, given its leadership in data science and it being the only cloud provider that is powering its infrastructure and services using 100% renewable energy.”
1 Source: Google internal data from Google Trends, travel- or tourism- related searches from March 13, 2022, to March 12, 2023
2 Source: Google internal data from Google Trends, travel- or tourism- related searches from March 13, 2022, to March 12, 2023
3 Source: Google internal data from Destination Insights with Google, air-related searches from October 1, 2022, to March 11, 2023
4 Source: Google internal data from Destination Insights with Google, air-related searches from October 1, 2022, to March 11, 2023
5 Source: Google internal data from Google Trends, travel- or tourism- related searches from March 13, 2022, to March 12, 2023
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.