Transformation in Travel: Our Q&A with TUI’s Head of Technology
The travel industry is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand from people seeking adventure and eager to explore new destinations. Given an abundance of choice and the desire to have a personalized experience, customers are turning to tour operators to remove complexity from planning so they can focus on the holiday and not on the process of planning it.
As the world’s largest integrated tourism organization, TUI provides end-to-end travel experiences with a network of 400 hotels, 130 aircraft, and 16 cruise ships across the globe. The company has orchestrated a business transformation and a technology transformation to stand up more resilient IT operations, drive efficiency, and power an outstanding digital experience for customers.
We sat down with Yasin Quareshy, Head of Technology at TUI, to discuss the transformation, its outcomes, and the role that PagerDuty has played in TUI’s journey to accelerate innovation and win customer trust.
Yasin, it seems like everyone is traveling right now. How is this impacting your business?
The travel industry is in full recovery mode, and customers are demanding more choices and flexible itineraries. In the last month, we had 54 million searches on our websites. In response to this, we’re adding millions of holiday offerings and dynamic packages where customers can choose a combination of services that they’d like from us. For example, we now offer group tours for customers to travel with like-minded individuals, and we’ve simplified the process of adding extensions at the end of a trip, like a few days at a beachside hotel.
Can you talk about TUI’s digital transformation?
In the past, TUI grew significantly through acquisitions which resulted in separate IT functions using different technologies and operating processes. Siloed teams and paper-based processes were far too difficult to manage—especially as the business required more innovation to meet rising customer demands. We decided to consolidate everything into a single IT organization with a unified technology stack.
Over the past several years, we‘ve transformed to be a technology-driven company. We rebuilt every part of the customer journey from the ground up, using the latest architecture solutions within AWS, and we’re building a high level of resiliency into the solutions and design.
You also adopted a DevOps approach as you migrated to the cloud. Can you share more about this?
This was not just a transformation of our technology, but also how we are organized. We adopted a DevOps way of working so the person who builds the product is responsible for maintaining and supporting it. Our engineers are given a great level of autonomy, and feel a sense of ownership and accountability in their work.
Still, we recognized how much load we were putting onto our engineers. When something goes wrong, it can become quite intensive—responding to not only the time pressure, but the pressure to communicate a consistent set of information to the people who need to know what’s actually going on. That’s where PagerDuty came in.
We think most companies will relate to those challenges. How did TUI get started with PagerDuty and how are you using the platform today?
We integrated all of our services, creating a single pane of glass showing what needs support, who’s supporting it, and what the dependencies are. Incident management was simplified with a single platform for orchestrating response and streamlining communications. This meant teams could focus on managing and resolving incidents without interruption or sharing ongoing recovery updates.
But this has evolved. We’ve successfully rolled out PagerDuty across TUI globally. And now, most of the actions related to digital operations and incident resolution are automated.
Can you talk more about automating response across your digital infrastructure?
PagerDuty has brought the concept of automation to life for us. There’s a lot of automation built into PagerDuty’s AIOps solution. By integrating with applications in our existing stack like JIRA Service Desk and our monitoring tools, all of the information is available in one place. This has reduced the number of incidents and—if there is an issue—PagerDuty tells us exactly where the problem is.
On average, the time to recover from an incident is at least 30% quicker. With automated recovery it can be 90% quicker. If we already know a scenario, PagerDuty learns and responds by executing automated scripts to recover from service disruptions. Customers don’t even notice that we’ve had an issue. The business impact is in the millions of dollars saved.
Those are some incredible improvements. What impact is all of this having on this business?
First, more innovation. Our DevOps engineers spend less time providing supporting functions and more time building great products. This means we’ve accelerated the amount of things that we deliver for our customers.
Also, increased revenue. If there is a service disruption, we have a predictable way of responding to that. Reduced service downtime helps us keep to our customer promise, and as a result, we are seeing a higher booking rate.
The PagerDuty Operations Cloud is critical for TUI. This is what is actually going to help us grow as a business when it comes to making sure that we provide quality services for our customers. We want to create trust with our customers and PagerDuty allows us to build that trust.