The World’s Best Airline Pricing Analyst
It’s no secret that every airline pricing department in the world is looking for top talent.
Ideally, everyone would like a strong thinker with years of experience working ATPCO data, Fare Management products, GDSs, and Revenue Management systems. Extra points would be awarded for time spent with ancillary services, revenue accounting, distribution, sales, and/or ticketing. It’s no secret that this person is really hard to find. Thinking about the best pricing analyst I know in the world, I realized that it is more than just these skills that set her apart, but also the good example she offers for pricing and revenue management leadership of the people they should bring into their teams. (Naturally, I can’t refer to this analyst or her airline by name.)
The first thing that makes her really good at her job is a near obsession with data in all forms. Whether it be competitive fares information, market share stats, yield/load factor, or pure fares and rules coding, she likes to have it all at her fingertips, and she knows how to read and make decisions based on data. It’s not necessarily “Big Data,” but the fundamental metrics of how an airline works, what is happening in the competitive space, and what is driving pricing decisions. Airlines ignore data and its interpretation at their own peril, and best-practice airlines and their staff are hungry for information to drive better outcomes.
Next, she challenges assumptions around pricing. The phrase, “We’ve always done it that way” is a surefire way to irritate her. At her airline, analysts are encouraged to question information coming from Yield, Sales, and Distribution, and their input carries weight when a decision is made. Too many airlines follow outdated practices for segmentation and pricing data structuring, leaving revenue on the table.
As a corollary to this, she is also empowered by her leadership to make and own her pricing decisions. She uses the data she has collected to make a pricing decision, then sticks by it if/when questions come. Too many airline pricing groups hide behind excuses of “it’s not my fault, it’s those silly folks in [insert department name here].” Accountability should never be with a department that sits over the wall, in another building, or in an outsourced office half-way around the world. Pricing groups need to own their decisions.
Finally, she keeps learning. She attends meetings of other groups, especially on the commercial side of the airline, to keep up to date on day-to-day activities, but also to better understand the perspectives from other groups.
I wish there were more pricing analysts like this around the world, but the reality is they are rare. What I can say is that most organizations underutilize their staff, who could really be driving innovation while improving revenue growth, if given the right tools and authority. It is always interesting for us in ATPCO Consulting to partner with organizations with incredible potential already in-house, and helping airlines grow through investments and nurture the right people has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my job.
At ATPCO Consulting, we’re always looking forward to speaking with the outstanding minds in our industry about how we can all achieve more through empowerment, accountability, better data, better tools, and smart people. Connect with us!