The AI company’s ‘Retail For Airlines” product promises ‘full control’ of personalized offers to passengers.
PROS is continuing to refine and simplify its tech solutions for airlines struggling with the complexity of managing data, adapting to IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), and automating retail processes. Release.
Considering that those issues are among the main topics at this week’s World Aviation Festival in London, PROS' decision to release its Retail for Airlines product could hardly be better.
Launched on day of the Aviation Fest, Retail for Airlines is billed as “a single, configurable end-to-end eCommerce solution built from a state-of-the-art, modular, API-based platform.”
In essence, PROS Retail for Airlines promises carriers “full control” to optimize and personalize offers for passengers across seat, fare and ancillaries with a digital-first experience across airline.com, mobile and direct sales channels in real-time, delivering an exceptional customer experience.
The timing of the release also comes a week after PROS’ $12 million acquisition of French e-commerce platform Travelaer, which was initiated to enhance the Houston, Texas tech company’s digital merchandising product line.
We were able to catch up recently with Aditi Mehta, PROS Solution Strategy Director, Travel, who is speaking at the Aviation Fest on Thursday morning on a Technology & Strategy Roundtable.
Kambr Media: How would you characterize PROS? How is the company evolving its services for airlines?
Aditi Mehta: Traditionally, most people, view us as the revenue management company. We've been in the revenue management space for over 30 years now. But really, PROS is much broader than just revenue management; PROS is a SaaS provider with solutions that span across multiple areas of an airline's business. Our goal is to enable airlines to become better retailers. We help them create revenue optimal offers, we help distribute those offers, and fulfill those offers online in a way that enhances the customer experience.
The overarching goal of PROS is helping airlines scale their business across channels, so they can drive incremental revenue. As a foundation, all of that built on our science and artificial intelligence.
Is it fair to say that the commercial aspects of an airline have grown more complex than they used to be? What’s your take on how airlines can master the complexity of revenue management?
I would say yes, the complexity has increased due to new routes, new competition, and new technology. But airlines can successfully manage that increased complexity with the right strategies, tools and partners in place. This can be accomplished with best-in-class user experience, ability to quickly adjust to changes, and having trusted, proven science in your back corner.
What were some of the issues PROS explored at its annual Outperform conference this past May? How are those discussions informing PROS focus and product strategy?
This year, we had a record number of attendees – over 700 people. Within the airline space, we have over 200 airline customers, prospects, and industry experts. Those included executives, managers, and people who deeply experienced in the industry. The conversation for the travel tracks was really to drive the conversation around, "What are the challenges our airline customers are facing? What are some of the new projects or collaborations that they're working on?" And, "What are some innovations that they're working on with PROS, or outside of PROS, that really helps them drive success through revenue management, pricing, and e-commerce."
Much of that conversation rested on AI and science that's really a core differentiator for PROS. The question we keep asking is: “How is AI and science driving that digital transformation for our airline customers?”
AI is such a large topic across all industries. In terms of what PROS does for airlines, how do you separate the hype and the experimental from what’s practical and actionable today for clients?
We understand that there are different applications for AI and Science, and in order to really drive value for our customers, we need to understand the crux of their business, the day-to-day problems they see, and identify ways to better use the enormous amounts of data airlines have. The successful, real applications of AI and science are derived from not only collecting data, but also being able to sift through it to make confident business decisions.
One consistent data point that came up at the conference was from a panel that was titled, Digital Transformation: Are eCommerce and Revenue Management on the Same Page?
Traditionally, people don't connect revenue management with digital transformation because it's considered the “back-end of the engine.” But it's so important, because revenue managers are the ones who end up creating the offer that our end-customers -- i.e., travelers like you and I -- experience.
There's a lot of discussion about who should own digital transformation at an airline. Airlines have a lot of things to consider when they’re pushing a digital transformation project through. There's so many different departments and teams that all have to collaborate together in order to successfully create new products. For example, if you want to create new bundles of services, you need to figure out how best to price it, how best to distribute those bundles across your indirect or direct channels, and eventually display it on your e-commerce. Some of those conversations really requires revenue management to have a seat at the table with other players.
How is PROS’ view the role of AI in managing ancillaries strategies?
One of our customers, TAP Air Portugal, presented at Outperform on how they personalize ancillaries. They wanted to display the most applicable list of add-on services for that customer that could increase conversions. Based off of the right data, you can you use AI to filter and rank offers that increases the likelihood of converting or upselling services that travelers want.
Airlines can do so much with the way their products are displayed.
If airlines are able to use data in a better, smarter way, they can transform the customer shopping and booking experience while optimizing revenue.