Ana de Pro discusses why she finds the travel business exciting, and the need for airlines to deliver compelling experiences while managing costs. She makes a business case for inclusion & diversity—why organizations can only reach full potential when their teams reflect the diversity of their customers. She also shares how Amadeus is uniquely positioned to help airlines innovate.
Accenture Travel: You are the Chief Financial Officer at Amadeus and your experience spans diverse industries from construction and real estate to engineering, telecommunications, and travel. Tell us about your professional journey and what excites you about the travel business?
Ana de Pro: I have had the privilege to work for several companies in different industries and with many different and talented people, but I have to admit that this crossing point of technology and travel is probably one of the most exciting places to be. Susan Sontag, the American writer and philosopher once said: “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”. The desire to travel is inherent to human beings. All of us travel - for business, for leisure, to see friends and family. A world on the move presents huge logistical challenges. Travel is more accessible than ever, all of us have had wonderful experiences travelling, but the travel experience can be also frustrating. Technology is one of the keys to resolving many of the issues faced by the travel industry and travelers.
AT: Accenture's research1 finds the ratio of female to male manager is at a poor 17:50 globally. While Pew research2 reveals that the share of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies fell to 4.8% in 2018. How can digital and technology be leveraged to facilitate equal leadership opportunities for women?
AP: There are a plethora of serious scientific surveys that confirm that Diversity and Inclusion are key pillars for business success. The business case is now clear and accepted.
Organizations can only reach their full potential when their teams reflect the diversity of their customers. Companies do better when they recognize that people bring unique and multi-dimensional perspectives to the table and can engage diverse employees in a way that they feel comfortable. As work becomes more complex, interconnected and global, the ability to collaborate, build consensus and inspire virtual teams is becoming increasingly valuable. Just as with the issues faced by the travel industry, technology can be a facilitator, an enabler to achieve our goals.
AT: The airline industry is becoming a customer centric business, but inhibited by legacy processes, technologies and market volatility. How can airlines keep pace with speed to market, agility and innovation of digital natives to deliver more compelling customer experiences, while managing cost?
AP: Travel industry has been very successful in managing… complexity effectively on a massive scale in the past. Millions of passenger journeys are made every day. It has been about moving masses. The future however will be about personalization on an enormous and unprecedented scale. Today’s demanding traveler expects a better kind of travel experience, an experience that is unique to them, shaped by personal preferences and tastes. Beyond offering ancillaries, the airline challenge is how to execute merchandising strategies successfully. Airlines must become retailers and deliver a high-quality customer experience right across the trip cycle at every customer touchpoint. This is the challenge. Innovation and technology should provide more efficient ways of delivering this.
AT: Can you elaborate on some of the initiatives Amadeus has undertaken to help foster innovation for airlines?
AP: I believe Amadeus is uniquely positioned to help airlines innovate, both from a purely technological point of view and as importantly, thanks to our broad understanding of the global travel ecosystem. Our goal is to support airlines in delivering a unique customer experience at every stage of the journey.
We have built a comprehensive portfolio of suites that provide multiple technology solutions to our airline customers. And we are fully committed to invest to meet their future needs. Some ongoing initiatives to drive innovation include hackathons, design sprints, and partnerships such as the Accenture Amadeus Alliance, which is delivering digital solutions to solve airline challenges. Our purpose as a company is to ‘shape the future of travel’. Walk into any Amadeus office in any of the 195 countries where we are present, and you will find people who love to travel and who are also excited about how the travel experience can be improved through technology.
AT: What kind of a traveler are you?
AP: Mostly a business traveler and of course from time to time a leisure one. Always traveling light, bringing only the essentials.
AT: What is your favorite travel destination?
AP: I’ve travelled quite a lot so these days I’m quite happy to get some time at home, therefore…. Madrid Barajas (Arrivals!)
1 Accenture's research
2 Pew research