Jules Brookfield, Vice President of Technology at Archipelago International, one of Indonesia’s fastest growing and most technically advanced hotel chains, describes the challenges faced in running their multiple websites.
Can you tell us about your organisation's websites? How crucial are they for your business?
Sure, we run our entire customer facing websites and our internal web applications on AWS (Amazon Web Services), and these websites are crucial to our presence and revenue online. We have a website for each of our seven brands: www.FaveHotels.com, which is our "select service"/2 star hotel chain which was recently awarded as the "Best Economy Hotel Chain in Indonesia" for 2013. www.NeoHotels.com, which represents our more maturely styled 2.5- star hotel chain - and the first 100% non-smoking hotel chain in Indonesia! www.QuestHotels.com, which is our 3-star hotel chain. www.AlanaHotels.com which is our new 4-star and 5-star "lifestyle" hotel chain. www.Aston-International.com which represents our 4- and 5-star "Aston" brand - our oldest and most recognised brand. And www.KamuelaVillas, which is our villa product. Our seventh brand's website "Haper Hotels", www.HaperHotels.com which is due to be launched soon, is our new Rustic Modern styled 3.5-star hotel chain, the design of which I especially like. We also have a website www.AstonBaliHotels.com which helps our guests who are looking for a hotel in Bali to choose one that is right for them across all our brands in Bali.
The websites contain a wealth of information about all of our 64 operating hotels and our 100+ hotels on the way, all of which have photo galleries, restaurant menus, promotions, rich 360 degree virtual tours, and also guide hundreds of thousands of people from around the world into our booking engine. We do millions of dollars worth of revenue directly through our websites, and several million more indirectly.
Internally, we have websites and applications (separate from our public websites) which collect a plethora of occupancy, revenue and booking statistics about all our hotels all day, everyday. These websites and our internal web applications therefore need to be very reliable and be able to handle all sorts of potential issues in terms of redundancy and demand. It is very important that we ensure people from all parts of the world have a great experience through our websites - after all, increases in website performance generally lead to a measurable increase in business online.
What challenges were you facing with the running of your websites?
Prior to using AWS, we were relying entirely on a combination of low cost, low performance, low control hosting (often based in the US, far away from most of our customers) and our servers and networks at our HQ to serve our web traffic. However, living in Indonesia means that Internet reliability is often quite poor, slow and expensive compared to most developed countries and reliable power isn't that much better. With increasing traffic and business flowing through our websites, I was becoming concerned, we needed to move to a more professional setup. I wanted to improve the uptime of our websites, which would occasionally go down due to Internet issues, power issues, hardware issues, or configuration issues.
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