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A Conversation about UX - Revenue Management Edition, Season 2, Episode 4

PROS Travel Podcast, Season 2, Episode 4: A Conversation about UX - Revenue Management Edition

We spend a lot of time on this podcast talking about digital transformation and how airlines can better listen, personalize, and engage with their customers. For this episode, we wanted to turn the tables inward – to PROS and look at what we are doing to transform the experience for our customers. One of our core focus areas for us is airline revenue management, a mysterious world within an airline and typically very complex in regard to systems, processes, and the sheer number of people who are working in the department. 

There are going to be two parts of this episode. In the first part, we’re going to chat with Rachel Golden and Eunice Yang from the PROS team about the research initiatives their team took on to listen and learn RM Analysts, their pain points, and the real impact that information made to the final product. In the second part of this episode, we met with Pascale Batchoun, Director of Revenue Management at Air Canada. We chat about the role of an analyst, the data and systems they use, and how they are driving revenue for Air Canada. 

You can listen to The View from 30,000 ft. on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Or listen to the full audio version below. 



In This Episode

[03:30]: Working together to impact the end product
[07:03]: Revamping the current workflows in RM
[08:31]: How RM Analysts use PROS’ solutions
[10:38]: Applying customer feedback
[21:32]: Explaining RM to people outside of the airline industry
[24:40]: Setting goals within Air Canada
[27:00]: Looking for ways to adapt
[28:20]: Gathering feedback and addressing challenges
[29:47]: Using data to make business decisions
[32:02]: Introducing new workflows
[33:05]: Determining best practices

Full Transcript

Aditi Mehta: Hello, and welcome to the PROS Travel Podcast, The View from 30,000ft, a podcast series featuring airline industry experts tackling the real issues around airline digital transformation. This is our second season. I highly recommend listening to the last season if you haven't yet. And we're focused on big and small changes around travel IT, data, products, and retailing. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight....

Aditi Mehta: Welcome to another episode of The View from 30,000ft by PROS. We spend a lot of time on this podcast talking about digital transformation, how airlines can better listen, personalize, and engage with their customers. Today I wanted to turn the tables inward to PROS to see how we're doing the same thing to transform the experience for our customers. One of our core focus areas is airline revenue management. A mysterious world within the airline and typically very complex when it comes to systems, processes, and the sheer number of people who are working in that department.

Aditi Mehta: There are going to be two parts to this episode. In the first part, we're going to chat with Rachel Golden and Eunice Yang, from the PROS team, about research initiatives that their teams are looking at to better listen and learn from RM Analysts, their pain points, and the real impact that that information gets into the product. In the second part of this episode, I met with Pascale Batchoun, Director of Revenue Management Practice and Advancement at Air Canada. We chat about the role of an analyst, the data and systems that they use, and how they're driving revenue for Air Canada. So Rachel, Eunice, welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Rachel Golden: Thanks for having us.

Aditi Mehta: So can we start with what do you guys do at PROS?

Rachel Golden: Sure. So I'll start. I'm Rachel Golden. I'm a Product Manager. I've been at PROS for almost four years at this point. I am a wearer of many hats as a product manager. It's more of a question about what don't I do at PROS? Mostly kidding, but half serious. I work with a variety of different teams within PROS, and I work with customers as well. So working to understand business needs that they have so we can understand how they can best use the product if we need to add new features. How those would work. So on and so forth. And then once we understand what new features need to go into the product, I work with our development team or our science team to actually implement that within the product.

Rachel Golden: I also work on writing documentation for customers for online help topics, work with the PS team on implementations for customers, work with sales on understanding needs from new customers. And working with those new customers to show you the value of the product. And then I also work with our user experience team to help improve the experience of the product. So I'll let Eunice introduce herself and explain kind of what the User Experience team does.

Eunice Yang: So, hi, I'm Eunice Yang. I'm a Senior User Experience Researcher and I've also been at PROS for about four years now. We pretty much started at the same time. So my role as a researcher is to gather feedback from users to understand what their experience is like with our products. That includes learning about their goals, their pain points, their needs. And then I share that information with our team. So then when we're designing new features or enhancing current ones, we're always having a user in mind.

Aditi Mehta: It's really interesting. So I get from your answer Eunice, of how your role impacts the end products, but how do you guys work together as product management and UX to impact the end product that customers see and use?

Rachel Golden: Yeah, great question. So as a Product Manager, I'm on the Product Management Team, we're the main owners of the product itself. So one of the main parts of a job of a Product Manager is to work with customers and understand what features need to go into the product. So how these features would work. We work with customers to prioritize them amongst other features that we have going into the product as well. And working with development, user experience, all of the other teams to determine how they get added. If it's backend functionality for a more science type of feature, work with the science team to implement some of that as well. From a front-end perspective, working with customers to see what the screens would look like, how you interact with them, all of those kinds of things.

Rachel Golden: But nothing that PM does is in a vacuum. We do all of that across teams at PROS with our customers, really anyone we can interact with to get input on these things. We like to do that to really understand what features are needed, how they can improve the experience for the customer, how they can improve, revenue management for the airlines, too. And then other things like, can we bring new technology in? What kind of innovations can we do? And all of that kind of stuff to implement those features.

Eunice Yang: And so from a user experience standpoint, we work closely with Rachel almost on a daily basis. She gives us the requirements for a lot of the features that we're trying to design for, answers lot of questions, she works with us with development. So when we have our designs ready to give to development, she's there to flesh out some of the questions that come up, especially about the functionality front end and back end.

Aditi Mehta: How much of your job would you say is working with the airline customer? Getting to roll up your sleeves and see how they use your product?

Rachel Golden: Yeah, it's definitely a large portion of my job. I'm constantly communicating with customers and working with them to understand their needs. And most of the time I'm working with the managers of the Revenue Management Department or System Administrators. That's most of who we're communicating with on the Product Management side. Because they're the ones who have the business knowledge, and have the understanding of what features they need for the business problems they need to solve for a particular airline. So I spend a lot of time working with them to understand those needs for those features and how they would work. We work with those kinds of people at airlines to answer functional questions. Work with them if they want to enable new features and things like that. And then also throughout the whole... Like I said, implementation and sales engagements too. We're working very closely with our professional services team and the sales team in order to explain functionality and help them figure out how they can best use the system for their airline.

Eunice Yang: Our user experience team is all about designing for the user. So when we're deciding on the layout of a screen or how features will function, we really rely on the feedback from users to tell us are we going in the right direction. So for example, when we do have an idea, we work with the User Experience team to design this feature as a prototype, then we bring that to our customers and get feedback on that. I would say half the time we work with managers to help us understand the business goals and then the other half of the time we will work with end users to test the design, the functionality of that prototype that we come up with.

Aditi Mehta: Cool. So let's talk about a more recent project or work that you guys have been doing to listen and learn more about how our RM customers work with PROS. So can you talk a little bit about what that project was about?

Eunice Yang: Sure. I'll start off. So our customers are probably aware of this, but others who are not, we've been working nonstop to revamp all of the current workflows in RM. We're retooling both the front end and back end technologies to improve the system performance and usability. We're also modernizing the user interface and streamlining workflows. So this was the perfect time to collaborate with our customers, discuss how we could address their concerns and pain points with the current system.

Rachel Golden: Yeah. And so just to add onto what Eunice is saying, we really wanted to capture feedback from a variety of different customer types and sizes. Just to make sure we're designing for all airline types, to make sure we're addressing all possible pain points and use cases within the system. And we want to consider things from all different perspectives as well. Right? We have some analysts who are really visual and some of them who are really analytical. So there's design concepts that we need to take into consideration for both types of analysts. And all in all, we've conducted site visits on four airlines in the past three to four years or so. And we've done remote interviews with another 10 carriers as well. So in total we've spoken with at least 41 end users from all around the world, and airlines of various different sizes. And that number is continuing to grow. We're always looking for more analysts to talk to and more airlines to talk to as well because we want to continue to make sure we're building a comprehensive solution for the analysts.

Aditi Mehta: Yeah, those are some really interesting numbers. So why is it so important for PROS to learn more about the way RM Analysts use our products?

Rachel Golden: Yeah, that's a really great question. PROS has been in the Revenue Management Business for over 30 years. We're constantly evolving. We're thought of as industry leaders and thought leaders in the Revenue Management space. And so we want to constantly be bringing better solutions to our carriers. We started with the PRMS solution about 30 years ago. And then we continuously evolved that over the years. And then introduced the O&D III solution in the early 2000s, O&D II came along not too long after that. And then last year we launched the newest version of the revenue management products at PROS, the RM additions. And so throughout the whole process of the evolution of our products and the science of our products, we've been working with customers. We do lots of science improvements. We've had some UI changes over the years. And I mean, again, a good example of how we work with our customers is the Etihad case study, and there's a whole podcast on that, if you haven't listened to it, which has a lot of really good information in it.

Rachel Golden: But that just shows how we've worked with our customers in the past from a more science perspective. And it was time that our UIs as a whole got re-evaluated and that we took the chance to really engage with the analysts and make sure that we're building a system that works for them and allows them to do their job in the easiest manner possible. There's currently 200 screens in the RM product right now. So you the plus side of that is there's a lot of functionality that covers, like I said, a lot of different use cases for different airlines of various different sizes. But it's also overwhelming for the analysts and so we really wanted to take a look at that and see how can we make this a better experience and really streamline the process for analysts so they can do their job in a easier manner.

Aditi Mehta: Right. It's kind of interesting because you could say, "Hey, we've been in the business for 30 years, let's just rest on our laurels," so to speak. But the fact that we're continuously innovating by listening and learning from our customers. Eunice, can you talk a little bit about what was the approach that you guys took on this project?

Eunice Yang: Oh sure. So well, first of all, we reached out with a lot of our customers and partnered with them. We valued their feedback, particularly the analysts who use the system on a day to day basis as they're end users, like Rachel said. The goal of improving user experience is to improve the day to day lives of analysts. And so when we come up with things that we think are great, it may not be exactly what they were expecting. Right?

Eunice Yang: So it's some things that we need to correct and work off of based off of their feedback.

Aditi Mehta: Great. What were some of the insights that you guys learned from this research that you undertook?

Eunice Yang: Sure, sure. So let me go into a little more detail on that research. We conducted site visits, like Rachel said. We spent about three days having one on one sessions with analysts at their desks. During interviews we asked about their day to day lives. For example, what are their tasks, who do they communicate with, what tools do they use, what are their challenges. This sort of helped us understand the surrounding context around how they're using PROS tools.

Eunice Yang: Then they walked us through a typical task and showed us their pain points with using PROS tools, and the places for improvement. So at the end of each session, we would actually show them some prototypes of new workflows that we were working on. Users were able to navigate and click around so they can get a feel for those workflows. And we then discussed what they liked and disliked, and what we could do better. So that was the gist of the site visits.

Aditi Mehta: Yeah, that's really interesting.

Eunice Yang: And I think, I guess the most important thing that we learned from those site visits was seeing first-hand how users were using PROS tools and observing the pain points that they were experiencing.

Rachel Golden: Yeah, so just to add onto that a little bit. Like I said earlier, from a Product Management perspective, we do spend a lot of time interacting with the managers or the system administrators. So we don't necessarily get quite as much input from the end analysts in our day to day conversations with the airlines. But it's really interesting for me to see how the analysts open up when you give them the opportunity to provide feedback on these things. Some of them are initially really timid and don't want to say anything negative. But once you get them to the point where they're comfortable talking about what they like and what they don't like, they're really eager to provide feedback and share their ideas.

Rachel Golden: And they have a lot of really good ideas. And I think one of the things that always strikes me as very impactful when we do these site visits, is how much the analysts actually appreciate us taking the time to talk to them and the fact that we're listening to them. So I think that's really impactful and really important as we continue to do this kind of research and work with airlines on the new workflows. So I think that's something that has always kind of stuck with me from the site visits.

Aditi Mehta: So can you tell me how these learnings ended up impacting the end product that we see today?

Eunice Yang: Well, everything we learned from users really helped make our products better. So we had our own assumptions of what users needed and how they use our products, and knowing which ones were not exactly correct helped us make some pretty large design decisions or changes to our prototypes based on their feedback.

Rachel Golden: Yeah, we definitely have a lot more insight now than we did when Eunice and I started four years ago. We have a good sense of what works and what doesn't work. But that doesn't mean that we don't still need analyst feedback. Right? I think that just makes it easy for us to make the initial design and know that we're heading in the right direction and then that the analyst is going to help us flesh out some of the smaller interactive type of things. So I think it allows us to design the new workflows faster, which means a quicker delivery of those features as well. So analysts can start seeing the differences and they can start seeing the enhancements in their day-to-day activities.

Aditi Mehta: Can you guys give a more specific example of the type of feedback that you guys received and how that impacted the product?

Rachel Golden: So we had tested with an airline and they had some definite pain points in the system with some workflows. And so when we tested one of the new workflows with them, they told us they were so happy with what we had showed them that they wanted to cry. So that was a really, really good... It was a really good feeling when you go show them something and they say, "This has addressed, everything that I want." And it makes them so happy that they can't wait to get their hands on it and start using it. I mean, we get positive feedback from managers at airlines, the end users. I mean, even PROS, internal PROS people really like it.

Rachel Golden: Like I said, we work with the PS team, they're really excited about it. Sales. So we get constantly good feedback and we have several customers that are looking at migrating to the cloud right now, and they can't upgrade fast enough. They want the latest version to get access to the latest workflows and all the latest and greatest things that we're providing to these analysts. So it's been really great to see the feedback that we're getting from airlines.

Eunice Yang: And one of the things that surprised me was that there were several instances during the site visits where we noticed that users were not using the system the way that we expected they would use it. And it was really important for us to understand why. So for example, we heard from some users that they were not using the forecast alerts, mainly because so many alerts were getting triggered at the airport level, and it became unmanageable. In the new forecast workflow, we've actually changed it so that if an alert gets triggered from multiple O&Ds, users can choose to get one alert instead of several. And then we've had other measures for defining alerts, which was another need that we heard. So it was really great and it was sort of surprising to hear about these things.

Rachel Golden: Yeah. And I think the other thing I would add on this is it's like we've opened the door, and now people know that we're looking for feedback. And so they're more willing and eager to provide that to us. And so we have airlines that send us things that their analysts give them all the time. So we're constantly receiving that feedback, which is really great because it allows Eunice and I and the User Experience team to keep iterating on our workflows and our designs so that we can keep providing more value to the end users.

Aditi Mehta: Yeah, it's really fascinating how something so small as feedback can make huge improvements in the way a product is used and the impact that it makes for the end user. That's great. And so we're going to wrap up the podcast. I do want to tell people though that right after this interview with Rachel and Eunice, we talk to Pascale Batchoun, who is the Director of Revenue Management Practice and Advancement at Air Canada. And she's someone that you guys worked with, right?

Rachel Golden: Yeah.

Aditi Mehta: To get some of that feedback.

Rachel Golden: Yeah. We've worked very closely with Pascale and her team at Air Canada. They provide wonderful feedback for us, and it's always a pleasure to work with the Air Canada team on new things that we can add to the Revenue Management product.

Aditi Mehta: Cool. Well one fun question before you guys walk out here. Can you please tell me about your most memorable travel experience?

Rachel Golden: Sure. So I think for me, my most memorable one would be last year I went to Spain. I was actually there for a work trip, but I went over a couple of days early and I stayed a couple days late. And I actually did some solo traveling by myself around Spain. And I'd done a couple of solo trips here in the United States. And I'd been to a couple of different places. I go camping by myself pretty frequently. But being in a different country, on a different continent and somewhere where English isn't the native language, and just having to figure all that out for myself, plan it out, make sure I was on the right trains, and all of that was really liberating for me. And it was something that I had never done before. But like I said, it was a great experience for me. I loved it, and and I honestly can't wait to do another solo trip by myself. So that was pretty memorable.

Aditi Mehta: I always encourage women to go on a solo trip. It's a very different experience.

Rachel Golden: Yeah, You learn a lot about yourself.

Aditi Mehta: Eunice?

Eunice Yang: Yeah. So my favorite trip was actually going to New Zealand last year. So for all you nerds out there, if you don't know the Lord Of The Rings was filmed in New Zealand.

Rachel Golden: I'm so jealous.

Eunice Yang: So I actually got to visit Hobbiton, which was the town of the Hobbits.

Aditi Mehta: Oh very nice.

Eunice Yang: They kept it pretty pristine.

Rachel Golden: I really want to go.

Eunice Yang: There's like something like 40 to 60 people still working there to keep it, maintain it. So I guess tourists like us can go check it out. So I went with my close friend and my husband, we toured both islands. And I think the most memorable experience beyond Hobbiton, was we got to do a cave tour to see glowworms. But they didn't really tell us in the description of the tours that we have to do some abseiling, some zip lining, splunking, rafting, none of that was described. So it was very adventurous and somewhat terrifying.

Aditi Mehta: But you survived.

Eunice Yang: But I survived and we got to see glowworms, which was really cool.

Aditi Mehta: That sounds awesome. These are all places that I have on my list now. So thank you guys so much for joining and taking the time to talk a little bit about the work that you're doing.

Rachel Golden: Sure. Thanks for having us.

Aditi Mehta: So the next part of our episode features Pascale Batchoun, Director of Revenue Management Practice and Advancement at Air Canada. After speaking with Rachel and Eunice, I wanted to sit down with someone at an airline who they closely worked with in order to listen, learn, and shape the RM product at PROS. Pascale gives us great insight into how the RM teams work, what data they use and need, and how product workflows can make or break how they get their job done.

Aditi Mehta: Pascale, thank you so much for joining today. We're really excited to have you on this episode of The View from 30,000ft.

Pascale Batchoun: Thank you, Aditi, for having me. It's my pleasure.

Aditi Mehta: Can you let us know, what's your role at Air Canada?

Pascale Batchoun: I'm currently Director, Revenue Management Practice and Advancement. I have a team that supports approximately a hundred Revenue Management Practitioners, and we support them on a day to day basis. So together we constantly seek revenue opportunities through the best use of RM systems, RM processes. We also, together, we design best practices, KPIs. All of this in order to implement, track, and evaluate market strategies. Of course, all in support of our corporate objectives. So we also continuously look into advancing and evolving the practice overall through exploring, implementing new features, tools and innovation. So that's one side of what we do. Another side is also my team is responsible for the RM recruitment strategy and planning for incremental resources for our RM practitioners. We do that to successfully, of course, to function, grow, have stability and talent all the time. We also develop and deliver a comprehensive initial training for our new joiners.

Aditi Mehta: That's really interesting. So how do you typically explain revenue management to people who are outside of the airline industry?

Pascale Batchoun: It's always a challenge. It depends how much they're interested to hear about it, or how long I have, but in few words, I like to say that we are responsible for ticket pricing. And it's the act of balancing supply and demand. And all of this is with the objective of maximizing revenues. Now, it involves the use of a lot of data analytics, analytics and sophisticated RM systems, where we predict demand and consumer behaviors. And if I were to say our daily challenge is really to fill each aircraft with early enough passengers that have low willingness-to-pay yet save enough seats for the last minute high willing to pay customers. And those have a lower probability of materializing and a greater viability. So, we like to say that we manage what we call perishable inventory, because any unsold seats are "spoiled after take-off."

Aditi Mehta: You know, I always find it fascinating when I'm talking to people in the world of RM, how they ended up getting there because Revenue Management can be a very niche practice in general. So how did you end up at this role in Air Canada?

Pascale Batchoun: Wow. It's been a long journey, actually over 25 years. So it all started when I was an intern. I was studying at the time in actuarial mathematics. And I did an internship at Air Canada in the Operations Research Department within IT. This is actually where I fell in love with the industry and just the idea of optimization. So I decided to change a little bit my course and I pursued a Master's degree in Operations Research. So of course, this opened the door for me to work on amazing projects and departments such as engineering, crew scheduling, in-flight services, finance. And now actually for more than half of my career in Revenue Management. So when I started in RM, I actually started in a more financial role, I was producing, responsible to produce passenger revenue budgets and outlooks.

Pascale Batchoun: So I did that for a couple of years. And then when I started getting more involved in the science behind RM, it's discipline and the impact a proper RM practice has on our bottom line, this is where I fell in love with RM. So then I realized that if I were to share a best practice with another 20 or 40 practitioners, or equip an analyst with the proper knowledge of how our systems work, or just calibrate a certain input in order to get an optimal output, then I can actually make a difference. So that's how the vision of my team started. And with the incredible support of the RM leadership, I now have a team of 10 highly skilled and highly passionate members all supporting our practitioners.

Aditi Mehta: It's really amazing. That's quite a journey. And it sounds like a really fascinating team that you get to work with. So what are some of the main day to day goals for your team?

Pascale Batchoun: In terms of goals, I would divide them in two main goals. The first one, is to bring in the right talent into the department. And once they're in, to really set them up for success. So of course we need to hire the right talent and the right attitude, and we need to equip them with the proper training. So our new hires would develop and grow and are able to contribute, are able to succeed, and also remain engaged. Now this is what you continuously strive for. The second goal I would say, is really the support of our existing practitioners. So it's about understanding their day to day challenges, also adapting to the realities and also advancing the practice. So we are on the support side yet as much as possible, we invest time to remain connected with the various challenges, different geographical areas and roles, and really on a day-to-day basis feeling the pulse of the operations, their strategies and their day-to-day challenges.

Aditi Mehta:Really interesting. So the conversation that we're trying to have today is to better understand how are some of the pain points that you guys have, translating into a product that PROS ends up supporting? So wanted to understand what are typically your pain points in areas that your team are looking to simplify to make your job easier and to help you guys make better decisions?

Pascale Batchoun: The one thing I would think of, it's not necessarily a pain point but more, I would say the broader reality of RM. As you know, we rely heavily on data-driven tools and tactics. Hence why we have sophisticated RM tools and processes. I would say also in addition, tailoring the organization to what we call OD or Origin Destination Workflow is not simple, and it takes some serious planning and understanding. So as you can imagine, the learning curve of a new joiner is quite long, as we regularly hire for growth and attrition. So for example, we have doubled in size as an airline just in the past 10 years. So we are constantly looking for ways to adapt, to simplify, and also keep the workforce engaged and motivated.

Aditi Mehta: And can you give me an example of how you are adapting?

Pascale Batchoun: Sure. So, like I said, because the learning curves are long and steep, and especially for new hires that typically we hire without necessarily an RM background. And that's quite often the case. We have launched Revenue Management University or RMU two years ago. What RMU is, I would say it's an innovative sourcing strategy. So what we do is we proactively hire new analysts all in anticipation of attrition or growth. Now when we hire, our new joiners start with an extensive and a comprehensive eight week training. And after which they manage a small set of markets, so a much smaller portfolio than they would on a day-to-day basis going forward.

Pascale Batchoun: So they practice on a small set of markets and during that time the new analysts are closely coached and manage within RMU to ensure that they develop a good working knowledge, a solid working knowledge of revenue management principles and tools. Before they move to their permanent positions and to the RM business teams and start managing larger market portfolios.

Aditi Mehta: Wow, I really find this concept of RMU very interesting. So as analysts are going through it what are some of the things that they're giving you feedback on?

Pascale Batchoun: Some feedback... We constantly get feedback from our users on a day-to-day basis. So we try to gather feedback when we hear of their issues, when they come to us to address their challenges. And we also, through understanding the challenges and experiences, we subsequently update or develop a practice, be it a process, a workflow. In your report, we need to design a look into a new KPI we need to start measuring. So we do that also through what you call a Weekly Super Users Forum where we gather together and hear out the feedback and give back the feedback. And we also have other forums at various levels. And like I said, the fact that we are the first line of support for our users, this helps us remain connected and identify the pain points for future needs. We then communicate and propagate learnings and feedback by conducting what we call regular workshops almost on a weekly basis for continuous skill development of our analysts.

Aditi Mehta: Really interesting. So I'll take a step back for those of our listeners who might not be 100% familiar with what RM Analysts do and what kind of data they're looking at. So could you explain a little bit about what types of data and information are invaluable for RM Analysts to make their business decisions and support the business?

Pascale Batchoun: Of course, as you know, a lot of data and analytics is used for business and strategic decision making. The list is long, but if I were to limit it to top five I would say number one, booking and revenue data. Second demand forecasts, availability of our product, market share, and also competitive pricing. Now all these sources of course should have the historical backing to be able to do year-over-year comparisons and projection and trends. If we're talking KPIs, our key performance indicators, the top five would be the typical spill measures by full, spoilage, denied boarding, and also forecast accuracy.

Aditi Mehta: How do RM analysts then use tools and solutions to make their job easier and process all of that information that you just talked about?

Pascale Batchoun: Each RM analyst manages high volumes of flights, of OD markets, and as you can imagine, we sell tickets for the next year. So this is really for every flight departure for the next year. So all future departures. Hence if you think about it, it's really impossible to properly forecast demand and optimize revenues for an extensive network such as Air Canada's without using sophisticated RM tools such as PROS O&D III. Such tools automate the bulk of the work, and the analyst focuses on their commercial knowledge to calibrate for any future changes they know about, while devising and implementing specific strategies. So what we've done, we've also developed our internal data warehouse, various user reports, dashboards, exception reporting is also key. And alerting in order to manage by exception.

Aditi Mehta: When a provider such as PROS introduces new workflows or new dashboards, how do those new workflows, for example, impact the day to day efficiency for your team?

Pascale Batchoun: Yeah, workflows are absolutely key to day to day efficiencies. I'd like to say that well defined workflows help users optimally organize their work. So we talked about the volume and amount of flights and ODs they manage. So they absolutely need some form of workflow to help them be optimal and efficient. So when it comes to our RM Analysts, the workflows would span, I would say from a sequential set of processes, to the calendarization of the activities, to coordination of tasks across roles and geographical teams. So for workflows to be efficient, they also need to be supported by the proper tools in order for each step of the workflow, I would say be implemented in the most efficient manner.

Aditi Mehta: Great. And how have you worked with PROS in the past to determine best practices and optimize the RM systems that work for you and Air Canada?

Pascale Batchoun: Together with my colleagues, we have a science team also within RM, we work very closely with PROS. We work on the development of specific modules, for example, and new features all to support our revenue management roadmap. And also of course on a day-to-day basis as PROS help us analyze problems and design solutions around these issues. But from a workflow or best practice perspective as an example, PROS has recently brought in improvements to the actual interface that is used by our demand analysts. This would help them through the forecast analysis, would help them implement the user influences in a more seamless and efficient manner. So last year for example the PROS User Experience team has come to Montreal here and met with some of our experience analysts to test to the actual user acceptance of what they had designed within the workflow and have made some subsequent changes.

Aditi Mehta: So how did that experience shape your processes and the way your team uses the product now?

Pascale Batchoun: Definitely such workflow improvements enhance overall the user experience. It increases their efficiencies, like I said. Helps them focus on tasks that add more value to the bottom line. That was definitely a nice stride from a demand roll perspective. And I know my team is also working with your User Experience team on the flight roll workflow as well. There's however still more to be done on this front in order to have what I would call a comprehensive and intuitive workflow within O&D III and that is, I would say by integrating our processes and reports and also bringing efficiencies to the user workflow. And as a result, improving the overall user experience.

Aditi Mehta: So we talked a lot about the process and the product and the solutions that you use, but let's talk a little bit more about you. What do you like most about your job?

Pascale Batchoun: Great question. As much as I'm a technical person, I like to say that what I like most about my job is actually the support aspect of it. For anyone that has done support or training and so on, there's a certain gratification in supporting and developing individuals. Whether it's from teaching a concept, to doing just a one-on-one coaching, to designing a workflow that changes the day to day of an analyst, to sharing a best practice, or just enhancing the overall RM practice. So knowing that at the end of the day when supporting a hundred practitioners, all this results in improving our overall revenue performance. So that's definitely what I love most about my job.

Aditi Mehta: Yeah, definitely. From everything that you've told me so far, it sounds like you have a lot of influence on how you drive value, not only for Air Canada but for this entire Revenue Management Department. So we usually like to end in the spirit of this being a travel podcast, asking people what is your most memorable travel experience? Good or bad? I'd love to hear it.

Pascale Batchoun: That's a tough one to answer for an airline employee. So there's a lot of memorable experiences. I will pick one though. I'm originally born and raised in Lebanon until my teenage years when we immigrated to Canada. Now two summers ago, my husband and I decided to take our two teenage boys to visit Lebanon. It would have been for the first time for them. And I myself hadn't been in 20 years. So as you can imagine, prior I have traveled around the world, but I discovered as if it is for the first time the natural wealth and beauty of Lebanon. Something I hadn't necessarily experienced prior, and that is unfortunately due to the war.

Pascale Batchoun: So for two weeks we had an amazing time. Swam in the Mediterranean Sea, enjoyed some sandy beaches, enjoyed rocky beaches. We drove along the extremely narrow coastal strip. And then within minutes we would drive up to the high mountains and from there, literally within five minutes driving up, you'd enjoy the incredible view of the water from above. We visited national parks like the Cedar Tree Reserves. We visited limestone caves and of course connected with relatives, a lot of relatives on both sides of the families, my side and my husband’s. We enjoyed their hospitality, and of course enjoyed the amazing food. I would say maybe the only drawback to the trip for me at least, is that my kids discovered that their mom's food is not the best after all.

Aditi Mehta: Oh gosh. Wow. That sounds like an amazing dream vacation.

Pascale Batchoun: It was. It was quite an experience. And my kids are so looking forward to going back.

Aditi Mehta: Well, I'm going to add Lebanon now to my list, one day, hopefully. Well, Pascale, thank you so much for joining us. It was a really fascinating conversation to learn more about the ins and outs of Revenue Management and the data and tools that you guys use, so really appreciate the conversation.

Pascale Batchoun: Oh, it was a pleasure, Aditi. Thank you.

Aditi Mehta: Thanks for listening to the PROS travel podcast, The View From 30,000ft. Special thanks to our guests and our producer, Genevieve Todd. We hope you've enjoyed this episode. If you have any feedback, a burning idea or know of an industry expert we should feature, shoot us an email at that's, A-M-E-H-T-A You're now free to move about the cabin.