Skip to main content

Empowering the Skies: The Journey from Product Innovation to Implementation and Adoption

Have you ever wondered how PROS innovates and creates new products? What about best practices when it comes to implementation and most importantly adoption? This panel of women leaders discuss the journey of how PROS innovative solutions come to life. From building the product, to designing and implementation and through customer adoption - discover how airlines are working with PROS to harness powerful airline solutions that are taking the industry by storm.

Full Transcript

Rachel Golden:Hi. Welcome, everybody. Excited to see all of the faces in the room here. My name is Rachel Golden. I'm a Senior Product Manager at PROS. I work on the RM product and a little bit on RTDP. We'll do introductions here in a second, but I wanted to intro the session first. So, this is a session to talk about innovation, adoption, and products, and things. So, we've talked a lot about some of the great innovations we've had here at PROS over the last couple of days, talking about Willingness-to-Pay and RM Advantage. We've talked about our Dynamic Ancillary Pricing, and even some GSO improvements. Hani introduced everybody to the marketplace this week as well. So, it's been really great, and I hope you've enjoyed all of your sessions, and gotten to see some of the cool things we've introduced. But we wanted to take a moment to talk about how PROS has gotten there, and how we work with our airline partners to introduce new things, and how we work with our professional services team to also implement these solutions or products, and how we encourage airlines and work with airlines to adopt them.

Rachel Golden: PROS is an industry leader, and we're a thought leader, but we never would've gotten here without our airline partners and our customers. So, we're so thankful for all of you for always collaborating with us. We want to ensure we build the right solutions for you to solve your business problems, because without you guys, we wouldn't be successful. So, we're going to take you on a very brief journey of how we do all of this. And at this point, I will ask our panelists to introduce themselves. So, we'll start with Maud here.

Maud Oostenbrink: Thank you. So, my name is Maud Oostenbrink. I am the director of Next Gen RM, Next Gen Revenue Management team within Aeromexico. I started working there not that long ago, but I've immediately emerged myself in the PROS world. I'm doing a lot of projects. The idea of my team is really to lead all the projects within the revenue management organization. And obviously, there's a lot of projects we have, a lot of innovations that touch base with the products of PROS. So, thank you for having me, I'm very happy.

Terra Davies: Hello. Is that working? I'm so loud normally. I don't know if the mic's working. I'm Terra Davies. So, I'm the Vice President of Professional Services for PROS. That includes delivery, as well as, business consulting. And the products that I deliver are a lot of things you heard today. So, my team delivers, GSO, anything RTDP request specific pricing, continuous pricing, Dynamic Pricing, Willingness-to-Pay, Dynamic Offers and Dynamic Ancillary Pricing. My peer.

Elisa Medina: Hi. Hi, if you're there. So, my name is Elisa Medina. I lead professional services on the Offer Marketing side, which includes delivery, training, content, partners, and add-on services. Some of our products are airTraffics, airModules. You've been here, so you know some of them. I come from EveryMundo, so we were acquired by PROS as a complimentary company in the travel space. And I've been there nine and a half years now. So yeah, enjoying PROS so far.

Rachel Golden: Great. That's what we like to hear. All right. So, we're excited to have all of you here. One of the things I think that's really key, let's start at the beginning, right? We have to design a product or design a feature because some airline has come to us or maybe multiple airlines with a business problem, right? And we have to figure out how to solve that. So, step one is really understanding the problem. What is your business need? What do you need help with? What are you trying to accomplish? How can we help you with that? So, we have to go through a very detailed process, gather requirements, discuss it with the airline. Maybe we have something that works for you today, maybe it is something we need to design brand new. There could also be things around business process enhancements, which is where the professional services teams come in. But to start, Maud, I want to talk to you about a time when Aeromexico or in any of your airline experience had a problem, and how have you worked with teams, particularly PROS, to solve that and come up with new ideas or new solutions?

Maud Oostenbrink: So, I think I will take a step back towards 2016. A lot of the focus of automation had been on solving the bigger problems. The real problems that impact your business. Groups by default is a smaller part of your business. So, in 2016, we had a lot of things automized, but for groups, there was not that much. And the good thing is that most problems that you have as an airline, you can be kind of sure that all the other airlines in some form, have it as well. So, this is nice to work with a company that has a lot of airlines as a customer, because you know you have a strong voice when it comes to your needs. And in 2016, it was very inefficient, I guess, how we managed groups and we were really looking for help in that department.

Maud Oostenbrink: We were, I think, one of the first, well, the real first batch to start adopting GSOA. And it did help us really with, I would say 50% of the problem, because I think the first version was not extremely complete, but it did really solve at that point a very big issue. So, we were very happy to embark on that journey, and we continued to talk on, okay, what do we need more? What do we really need to make it a fully efficient process based on those stocks? And I'm sure on the many needs that other airlines had as well, you started to develop GSOU, which I think was launched right about when pandemic hit roughly. So, I guess, wrong time, wrong place to launch a new product. For us at least, our head was absolutely not in the space to start adopting new products.

Maud Oostenbrink: But obviously we saw the added value and the need to get there the moments where there was more openness and more brighter days. So effectively, I think last year was really the year where we said, okay we're starting to recover. We have really our flows back. We're doing good, and now we want to take that next step towards full efficiency, I would say. And we knew that GSOU for us was the right thing to do. So, it was a no-brainer in that sense, especially if you think that you can, for us, it means we can save 50% FTE that are doing manual handling right now. So, it was a clear choice for us to get there. And the same for Willingness-to-Pay. It is something that we are now in the process of starting up. And these are... You come out with products that for us are no-brainers as an airline to have. You know it can increase the value of your business. So yeah, of course, you want to be there.

Rachel Golden: I love when customers sell my products for me. It's great. [laughter] Thank you for the glowing endorsement there. [laughter] She's here all week. [laughter] So, I don't want to take up too much of the time because I think there's a lot of great things that all of the panelists here will have to say, but just a short plug from the product management team here. We love working with our customers, and it's so great when we find airlines that are willing to partner with us, and really go through the journey to launch new products, launch new features, solve business problems with us. You guys may not always see it, but there's a lot of thought and a lot of things that go on behind the scenes to launch these things. Typically, we start in a research phase, and we do a lot of heavy lifting and background research and investigations, and deep dives into what the business problem is and how we can solve it.

Rachel Golden: I mentioned we go through a requirements gathering phase, depending on the type of feature that we're releasing. So, like Willingness-to-Pay. There's obviously a lot of scientific research that goes into that, but there's also the user experience side and the usability side, and we do a lot of research in that area as well. Any of you guys who've been with PROS for a while, that's one of my little babies at PROS is the workflows in RM. There was a long effort to make sure that we were getting those right, and that we incorporated feedback from lots of different airlines. So, we want to get it right. It's always great to hear that we're getting it right, so thanks for the validation as well. But we don't want to do it in a silo. Again, we can't do this alone. So, we are happy to partner, if you're interested in partnering with us. Shameless plug, come talk to me. I'll make sure you're connected with the right people.

Rachel Golden: But pivoting a little bit, we've been talking a lot about AI this week, so I want to kind of switch the focus to that, right? We're obviously heavily invested in AI and new technology. We've been doing it for a long time with our Bayesian forecaster and RM. Again, you can tell I'm RM focused, but we have it now in DAP with our Ancillary Pricing things, and we're looking for other ways to leverage the technology as well. So, to the panelists, and maybe Elisa, we can start with you. What are some areas where you see PROS being able to help and partner with airlines in the AI space, and where can we take that going forward?

Elisa Medina: Yeah, so I think that we're just from what you said, we're problem solvers. And we know that AI is really important and relevant right now, and we have to catch up, right? So, while I think that internally, at least from my end, we're still in a discovery phase where every individual in our teams is trying to play around and see what they can do so that then we can come together and come up with a solution. There are ways that we can do it in the product, and for that, we really lean on your side. We're here to facilitate that feedback that we get from the customers on our implementation, on our day-to-day interactions, and collecting that customer insight so that we can shoot the problems to your side. But on our end, it's about optimizing our processes, making sure that we're starting with automation. So just exploring what's out there and understanding what our problems are day-to-day during our implementation process, during our content creation, during our training sessions, and what we do to just tweak and implement and just go from there. Do you want to add?

Terra Davies: Yes. Anyone from my team here know how nuts I am about AI? Put up your hand. Well, first of all, I was trying to live long enough to see PNRs go away. So that's what I was focused on, but now I'm trying to embrace AI. I'm really passionate about it as a consulting topic where I think there is a role for the business consulting team to help our customers adopt AI, but that starts with us, right? And I think it can be scary to some, it can be a marketing term. We had a good conversation at lunch that, it's just another name for the work we've already been doing around automation and robotic processing. And we do a lot of naming of processes internally at professional services based on ice cream flavors. So, we've done vanilla configuration, and that configuration is learning and it's improving as we benchmark, and we do more and more implementations.

Terra Davies: So, we're working on chocolate now, and there's sprinkles coming, I hope Mohamed is very soon. So, I think it's about just familiarizing yourself and your team and knowing it's a journey. And I know we have, like, Bayesian forecasting, but we also have the ability to stop Googling for HSEs or holidays, special events. Analysts spend a ton of time googling when school holidays are. Those are things where you can use Copilot, you can use GPT. And those are little journeys. I know, I want to talk about my pub robot. I think some of you at the pub last night heard about my robot, I want. But I want a robot at a pub watching every football game, soccer game, basketball game, and anticipating winners, not so I can win money, which I have heard is a possibility, but so that we can start closing classes before a human can do it, right? And I want to learn, and I think there's a lot of things there, but maybe not for our airlines to think necessarily about changing how the product works and changing the world today, but laying the foundation, just through training and play we do on the professional services team. We've been playing a lot. We've been improving the most basic of things with AI, and it's been great.

Elisa Medina: Yeah. I think it's about supplementing what we're already doing, right? It's another tool, another friend that we didn't know was in the room, helping us craft better emails, analyze our data, clean things up. So yeah, future.

Maud Oostenbrink: And I think from the airline perspective, you know, we are an airline. Our core business is not software, it's not AI, it's not these techniques. Like, our core business is getting people from A to B and doing it in the most pleasant way possible. But in the same time, we 100% realize that AI is the future, and the opportunities that come with AI, you cannot deny them. So in that sense, for us, it's really, we need people like PROS or whichever company that can help us facilitate to be the bridge between the opportunities out there, and make it tangible for us, how we as an airline can apply it because the thing with AI is that the opportunities are endless. You need somebody to make that translation, okay, but how you and your business can use it in a way that for you works best to maximize your revenue? And that's in the end what we are looking for as a partner.

Rachel Golden: So definitely PROS.


Maud Oostenbrink: If you take nothing away from this, PROS is your answer.

[background conversation]

Rachel Golden: Terra, you mentioned some things that I really want to hit on as well around adoption. And innovation calls for change, I think. So, when we introduce new features and new products... I think. Thank you. All right, now I'm back louder. Making sure you're awake. But when we introduce these things, your team and Elisa, same for you, you guys are working on adoption, and that, like I said, innovation calls for change. So how are you and both of your teams working with airlines to ensure there is success and that the adoption is there so that the airline can continue to be successful?

Elisa Medina: Yeah, I think... I really think COVID changed us. I know that's a surprising concept to the airline people in this room, but it changed how airlines talk about projects. It used to be about implementation and that worked, because you had the same team you've always had. You had your wily group's person who's been doing that job for 40 years and new proration calculations. And those people are not necessarily the bulk of our business anymore. And onboarding is an important concept as well as making sure that your teams can use the solutions. And so, we're having different conversations we did even two years ago. It's about certify my people, make sure that in the RM framework, my forecast is accurate, because those people are not only the heart and soul of your business, and a good customer experience is important, and confidence using the product is important, adoption drives revenue, but it's about the bottom line. If you have analysts following best practices, no matter what your solution is, you make money, and we prove that. There's research to prove that. And we have a whole practice around proving that and around reinforcing it.

Elisa Medina: So, the conversation is not about delivering on time. Yes, it's very important for everyone in the room with projects, but it's about being able to use it. Once the professional services team ends a project, you need to be able to use it. Not 10% of it, not 15% of it, but 100% of it that suits your business and delivers the ROI that you need. So, adoption, I'm thrilled with the conversations we've had this week and many in the room, thank you. You do need to adopt, not just implement. And it's a mindset change, and I think it's happening in the industry. And we're onboarding, we're hiring right out of school. We're hiring inexperienced people and adoption is more and more important. We don't have time like you said, you don't have time to learn technology, you don't have time to be good at it, and we want to help you, plug for the session after this one on services. But yeah, adoption has to be something we think about at the beginning, not at the end. Do you want to add?

Terra Davies: Yeah. No, I agree totally on the onboarding part. We found that we're most successful when we talk to our customers and let them know from the very beginning, what's the plan, what to expect, what are the timelines, really plan for it, so that there's already a sense of what's coming next of what we can do, right? I think part of our success has been iterating on how we deliver, right? We were heavy on implementation, very development heavy, and then our product team helped turn things around a little bit more so that we can focus now on configuration, right? So, everything gets leaner and better and hopefully, we can move farther away from that and then just do self-service. So, if you can't do it, then you list professional services to do it for you at a small fee, but it has worked.

Terra Davies: Just going through the process, we've, on our end have done implementations for more than 100 airlines with a lot of products. So, it's about having the self-awareness and the spirit of improving our processes every time and iterating, iterating and iterating. And I think that hat's what's made us successful and cutting down times, because we do want to deliver on time.


Elisa Medina: Always.

Terra Davies: And not just for us to get that revenue in, but for you, right? We want to make sure that your time to value is there. What you were saying on adoption, most definitely our interactions have to be at your service, right? You have to come to us with your problems and we can fill the gaps. And when we're successful in doing that time and time again, then we can build relationships. You trust us for the new solution, you come to us for your problems, and then we can take it to the next level and innovate with you.

Rachel Golden: And I know Terra could spend days talking about all of the things that we want to do to streamline processes and streamline implementations. We unfortunately don't have time for this since it's a 30-minute session, but the PS team and the products team do collaborate very closely on those kinds of things to ensure that their team is successful at making your team successful. On the topic of adoption, and going into business transformation, because that's another key piece of implementations, I feel. What are you doing on Aeromexico to make sure that the business transformation that the professional services team brings is successful at your airline?

Maud Oostenbrink: Yeah. I think it's something we do jointly. The topic that was just mentioned by you guys as well is the trainings. We feel that... Before preparing for this session, before coming here, I checked with a few colleagues and the number one thing that they said that they appreciate from the relationship with PROS is the trainings that are facilitated. And I believe this is a key component because let's be honest, the products are complex. They're very complex and you need to have a lot of knowledge in order to run them at the maximum way to generate the most revenue you can to optimize most. And we have people that are changing, we have new people coming in. You have people that are used to old systems. So, this is something that you can only do together with the provider in order to really make the most of it.

Maud Oostenbrink: And if we now look at the relationships we have with people from PROS, people that... Humpy is here, he knows Aeromexico so well, that for us, we feel immediately more confident when we're starting an implementation, because we know that we have a person like that who knows us and who can help us from our perspective. So, this is a super important element for Aeromexico in the implementation, and to keep yourself updated as well, because there's always new developments, there's always more things I think you can do. And this is something that we stress as an extremely important factor in our relationship.

Rachel Golden: So, I said this is only a 30-minute session. I think all of us could talk on all of these topics for so much longer. So, Amy, maybe we need to work on more time for next year. Just kidding. But this has been really great. I think this gives you kind of a sneak peek into some of the things that PROS does on our side, from a product perspective, but also from a professional services perspective. But it's always great again to get the customer testimonial of how it's working and how that can be beneficial for an airline. So again, thanks to all of the panelists here. We're going to wrap up because we've only got a couple of minutes here. But again, I think the key thing to take away from my perspective is collaboration. We're here to make sure that you are successful as airlines, because that makes us successful, and we want that to be the outcome for all of us. So, in closing, I want to take a minute for everybody on the panel to say one thing that they would like everybody in this room to walk away with.

Elisa Medina: Oh, you said it. No, I think, yeah, collaboration. Like I mentioned before, come to us with your problems. We can't help you solve them if you don't say it, right? And because we're looking into AI, because we're always trying to innovate with our products, and we're trying to get closer and closer to the product teams so that we can do better on our end. We're open for that discussion.

Terra Davies: Please take away that we're here to support you, and we have a service catalog available. We have trainings available, but we are here to support you to reinforce best practice, and I think that's the fastest way to get a really good return on your investment.

Maud Oostenbrink: I think my takeaway is related to innovation. I think innovation has been one of the key themes here, and true innovation is never easy. True innovation comes with a lot of resistance and a lot of pushback. And you need to be, if you are the believer in this innovation, you need to be very strong in order to make your case and to keep making your case in order to get all the right people on board. But if there's one thing that I've really learned is that, having the right partner to support you in this, to support you in making your case, to support you and keep on supporting you in standing strong, it makes so much of a difference.

Rachel Golden: Well, thank you for that. And again, thanks to our panelists here. Again, we're happy to talk to you. I'm happy to talk from a product side. The other product managers are also happy to talk about what business problems you may have and how we can work with you guys to solve that. I see some faces in the room that I'm actively working with, so I know there's many references for that. But again, thank you to the panelists and thank you to everybody in the room for being interested, and for being here today.