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Sr. Vice President – Cargo Solutions
At the very outset, we at RTS wish each and every one of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. As we get ready to embark on our objectives for 2019 with a new set of resolutions and goals, I want to spend a few moments to look back at 2018 – an extremely exciting year that just came to a hectic close. Last year saw significant activity in a number of areas – from welcoming new members to the RTS family to enhancing and building new solutions in both the passenger and cargo domains. You can learn more about our latest clients and some of the significant milestones in the Client Chronicles section. A warm welcome to Destination Gotland, Air Canada and Viking Line to the RTS Family.
In the Product Happenings section, get insight into the details of our new nomenclature of the suite of solutions that are more intuitive and marketable tagging along with the pace at which RTS has been growing in the last 6 years.
One of the highlights of every year happens to be the annual RTS Summit and the one for 2018 during the fourth quarter in one of the most charming destinations on the planet – Vienna, certainly did not disappoint and you can read more about it in the Scoop section.
We did not take our eyes off our marketing efforts and we are glad to announce that we will be participating at various industry conferences in both the passenger and cargo domains in early 2019, details of which are also included in the Scoop section. Last but not the least, a personal blog of mine on lessons learnt from the good and bad of implementing solutions at major organizations over the last twenty plus years in the Guest Oracle section.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting a number of clients in 2018 and thank you for your wonderful hospitality. We at RTS are deeply grateful for all the feedback you provide on our people, processes and products and that is of invaluable help to us in our quest to continuously take our solutions as well as your client experience to the next level.
As I sign off, I sincerely hope all of you had a nice and relaxing time to end the year with family and friends and have your batteries energized to take on 2019. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2019 and beyond.
We offer advanced software solutions and consulting services that drive growth and profitability by effectively planning your revenue budgets and setting your schedule. Our solutions enable you to get the maximum value out of every departure by optimally managing your flight capacities in terms of seats and cargo space considering origin-destination demand and different service products.
We provide industry leading solutions and services that help you to squeeze additional revenue and profit from your key resource – ships. Our solutions consider key aspects of cruise ferry customer behavior and ship characteristics to deliver the best results from tourists, cabins, and freight decks.
Optimally matching capacity and demand is a big challenge in the rail industry due to adjustable capacities and varying journey lengths. Our experts have developed models and algorithms to determine the optimal prices to sell seats to maximize the profit potential for the rail industry.
World Aviation Festival, London
RTS attended the World Aviation Festival in London, United Kingdom from September 5th to 7th as a sponsor. The event featured top notch airlines, numerous speaking sessions and a buzzing exhibition. It was attended by Raja Kasilingam (President), Jason Codd (SVP – Client Services), Patrick Allen (Associate Director – Client Services) and Palak Gulati (Marketing Manager). Jason Codd was the guest speaker who spoke about next generation Revenue Management and Scheduling solutions. In addition to speaking at the conference, RTS had a booth through which it showcased its solutions, and grabbed the opportunity to meet attendees from a range of airlines, vendors, and the general public.
RTS at Carus Conference
RTS was delighted to attend the annual Carus Conference again this year and catch up with old friends, clients and partners. There was a range of presentations from Carus and its clients which shared insight into how CarRes continues to evolve and adapt to the new challenges with topics on Mobile Apps, increased Port Automation, and Cargo Web. Jari Virtanen, Executive Director at Stena Line, provided a very informative and entertaining keynote speech on Digitalization. Patrick Allen (Associate Director – Client Services) was also pleased to deliver a similarly themed, and well received presentation, reviewing how Revenue Management systems have developed for use in the Cruise/Ferry business and assist with critical decision making and monitoring on sailings throughout the year. The speeches explored the importance of AI and how this will impact ferry companies in the next ten years, sharing experiences from Stena’s own digital transformation journey. This is a concept familiar with many of our clients and some are undergoing a similar process, with RTS working closely together on a number of projects.
RTS Summit 2K18
We had an amazing Summit with delegates representing both passenger and freight from leading airlines and cruise ferries from around the world. Stimulating sessions, product showcase, round the table discussions, great conversations over networking cocktail reception and other social events like Austrian Dinner Show made it a perfect platform to learn and exchange ideas.
The day started with a remarkable cocktail reception at Hilton Vienna Plaza. Delegates, RTS employees joined in for informal conversations adding a tinge of fun to it. Round the table discussions with snacks and drinks made it a perfect blend of a true networking reception wherein each member was a part of.
Day 2 began with welcome address by Raja Kasilingam (President at RTS) mentioning how to outperform our best and our competition unfolding into succinct podium presentations by two of our external speakers, Per Glomsa (RM Head at Fjord Line) and Adam Dudar (BD Manager at Air Canada) who spoke about how a winner takes it all and whether QSI is a cargo fiction respectively. RTS Internal speakers also joined in to speak on analytics, cargo trends and experience outperforming the novice. The conference ended with a great Product Showcase wherein clients came to know of the added features and cleared their queries regarding our products. But, the evening didn’t end here. It ended with a spectacular Austrian Dinner show at 8 pm which was a visual treat to watch.
The day began with a stimulating session on the current trends in airline industry by Dr Robert Mayer from Cranfield University. Thereafter, some aspects of digital technology, CF enhancements, trailer release and unveiling RTS products’ new names were touched upon by RTS Speakers. The conference became more interactive when it headed towards group discussions on current topics and voice of the customer session.
Thank you all for outperforming and making it a success…
Interferry Conference at Cancun, Mexico
The Interferry Conference is one of the major events on the Cruise Ferry annual calendar, alternating typically between Europe and a venue further afield on an alternating basis. This year saw the exotic location of Cancun hosting the event. Not even Tropical Storm 14, which went on to become Hurricane Michael (fortunately after it passed Cancun) could put a damper on it.
Jason Codd (SVP – Client Services) and Mukundh Parthasarathy (SVP – Cargo Solutions) attended the event, in which RTS participated as a sponsor. Although the theme this year focused on Safety and Security rather than IT related services, there were a number of interesting topics and speakers, and the event provided the opportunity to meet with the community from around the world in both formal and social environments. We were able to catch up with existing clients outside of the usual work environment, as well as meet with our partners and prospects. The host, Ultramar, certainly went all out to make the event a success, showing local hospitality and flavors, despite the rather inclement weather!
RTS plans to lead the 2019 IATA World Cargo Symposium
The 2019 World Cargo Symposium will be held in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands from March 12th to 14th and RTS has decided to be one of its principal sponsors. We plan to make our presence felt with sponsoring the Executive Summit which is an ‘Invite Only’ consortium of C-level leadership to discuss the current challenges and trends facing our industry. This is one of the most coveted sessions at the event and we are proud to sponsor it. In addition, RTS will also be speaking at this event and our team will also be available at booth A2 to network with the community. The conference is considered the premier event in the air cargo industry with over a thousand decision makers and experts from across the entire air cargo supply chain participating to exchange ideas and discuss solutions to the industry’s issues. Please feel free to stop by the RTS booth or look out for the ‘By Invitation Only’ event at the conference.
After a busy first half of the year, the second half of 2018 certainly showed no signs of slowing down.
The visits included:
Implementation activity for a number of ongoing implementations at various phases, from initial project launch through to training, UAT and Go Live.
Working with clients on enhancing their use of the system.
Meeting with clients and partners at a number of conference events, including the RTS Summit.
Over and above the onsite visits, significant behind the scenes work was done to facilitate the remote upgrading of a number of clients to the latest release version.
Viking Line joins the RTS Family
Having worked with Viking Line on a consulting basis for a couple of years now, RTS is excited to welcome Viking Line as a fully-fledged member of the family, with contracts for RTS Velocity Revenue Management solution having been signed in late 2018.
Viking Line is a Finnish shipping company that operates a fleet of ferries and cruise-ferries between Finland, the Åland Islands, Sweden and Estonia on the vessels Gabriella, Mariella, Amorella, Rosella, Viking Cinderella, Viking XPRS and on the new flagship Viking Grace. During 2017, they carried approximately 6.9 million passengers, 762 000 cars and 127 000 freight units.
RTS is delighted to report that RTS Revenue Management(RM) solution, Velocity, moved into production on October 3rd at P&O Ferries. RTS’ latest profit optimization solution release provides an extensive business intelligence component and supports improved management of demand forecasting and optimal space mix of passengers, vehicles, and cabins on P&O’s overnight North Sea, Irish Sea and Short Sea (Dover-Calais) routes. The complete press release can be found here:
RTS is glad to revamp by announcing new names of its Revenue Management, Pricing and Scheduling solutions. Velocity, AcceleRate and Compass replacing ProfitOpt, PriceOpt and SchedOpt across both passenger and cargo domains. As we know, RTS Velocity is an advanced comprehensive forecasting, revenue management, planning and business intelligence solution that enables airlines to maximize their profitability by significantly increasing incremental revenue across both passenger and cargo verticals. AcceleRate being decision support system that considers competition, customer value, price elasticity, and costs to recommend general tariff rates, contract rates and spot rates. Compass is designed to cater to the scheduling needs of airlines with just passengers, passengers and cargo and pure freighters. Foresight, our solution for schedule evaluation and revenue planning in Cargo domain remains the same. RTS feels proud in providing marketing and planning solutions, consulting services and business analytics for travel and transportation industry since 1982.
Cargo Maintenance Releases
RTS cargo products’ maintenance release is now available for client community. The releases include various product specific enhancements as given below:
Velocity (Airlines & Cruise Ferries)
The maintenance release for Velocity includes additional reports to view market and departure performance reports, automatic sponsorship recommendations for missing capacity and demand forecasts, new user interface providing the summary view of the departure information displaying capacity, bid prices and allotment information along with the ability to adjust the allotments. The release also includes other minor enhancements and bug fixes.
The maintenance release for AcceleRate includes product upgrade with new look, rating engine dynamic business rules and hierarchy logic functionality, re-designed customer value/spot pricing matrix and router integration with spot pricing module.
This includes router upgrade to include choice based route and hub ranking to drive the routing preferences, ability to define cost profiles and enhanced optimization module. The release also includes other minor enhancements and bug fixes.
Our services team will be contacting the client’s project managers to schedule the maintenance release deployment.
Paritosh Agarwal, Product Manager at RTS was invited for a guest talk at Oakridge International School on Character Building and Life Skills. Paritosh interacted with 7th Graders on the importance on coaching life skills and moral values which should be given equal weightage as to the academic curriculum. The students were able to know “what are the different life skills children need to learn to lead a successful life”. Moreover, he also discussed how to use the life skills in daily life. Some of the key skills that were discussed are Empathy, Conflict Resolution, and how to deal with Problems in Life. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the session and requested for more sessions including workshops.
Achieving Success in Automation
Businesses today face a stark reality: anticipate, respond, and react to the growing demands of the market place or perish. This is even more pressing in our travel and transportation industry. In a fiercely competitive environment, business strategy not only determines success, it governs business survival. But time and again, we see massive failures and delays of automation projects in spite of a comprehensive plan and thought put into those projects. Having been through quite a lot of successful and a few of not so successful automation projects, I thought it’s time to pen my thoughts on the things that have worked in our industry. Here are my top 10 list of things to look out for before embarking on an IT project:
Success – Defining success and figuring out how to measure it is arguably the most important aspect before finalizing the business case for a large scale project. Too often, we assume that success is defined as on time, on budget, and meeting the defined requirements. The project may still be considered a failure if it doesn’t deliver the expected business value.
Process – Buy into the processes associated with the software just as much as the software itself. Expect and plan for process changes as you implement the software, rather than applying layers of metaphorical duct in tape to a package order to support a “my way or the highway” approach that has killed many a project. During the software sales cycle, the process and “way of doing things” that the software assumes are just as important as the pretty screens and fancy features. Thinking you can drastically modify one or the other is a recipe for disaster.
Champion – It’s very important for key stakeholders to remain in those positions until the value of the project is delivered. As a plan B, a buy-in from second in line leaders is also important. When projects are 6 months and longer, when the key stake holders leave, in most cases if the next in line don’t buy the vision, the project could get delayed, scope creep and scrapped.
Decisions – As a team, be prepared to make tough decisions that were unpopular with your team, manager or customer to keep the projects on time and budget. Be it finding the right resources for the right roles, business process changes, or communicate in advance.
Customization – Whenever possible, take the system as is – get to know it, use it and document the deficiencies. The customizations are lot more meaningful and this will also keep the scope creep in check. If budget is the issue, bank some hours for customizations as phase 2.
Define – Sometimes, the people involved in a project—the project manager, team members, steering committee members and sponsor(s)—don’t understand their roles and responsibilities because no one defines them. Oversight, setting expectations and asking questions are part and parcel of the equation.
Documentation – While thinking about customizations, try to enforce transparency into the system. Try to get as much as the functional specifications into online help or a knowledge base. Move away from soft copies of documents. Key to have milestones on online help or knowledge base within the system. Users keep moving on and its key to have a central repository of information.
“‘Till death do us apart’” – May sound obvious, but too often, systems implementations fail, because end users are overwhelmed with information and do not understand the system. Retraining after a few months post cutover and time spent hand holding go a long way adopting the new system.
Test – Quality assurance efforts such as integration testing, black box testing, functional testing and stress testing often get short drift on projects. Sometimes customers get the test scripts from the vendor – that may not be a lot of help!!
Risks – Risk management should be part of any level of planning, whether initial project planning or phase- or stage planning for each new portion of a project. All too often it’s done upfront and then not revisited. Along with the critical success path, have a plan ‘B’ if things were to go wrong.
I am sure you have your ‘top 10’ as well. Drop me a line if you’d like to share it.
Senior Vice President, Cargo Solutions at RTS