Episode 3: A Conversation about Latin American Travel

PROS Travel Podcast, Season 1, Episode 3: A Conversation with Rosario Phillips of LATAM Airlines
In this episode, we chat with Rosario Phillips from LATAM Airlines. Rosario shares what’s unique about LATAM, as well as what it’s like to be a leading woman in the male-dominated travel industry.

Rosario started as an engineer in LATAM and later moved to the Sales team before landing in Revenue Management, where she has been for the last 10 years. She recalls the support she received from her husband while pursuing her career in the industry, which is largely comprised of male executives.

She also explains how the Latin American market is unique, as there are many destinations that are not connected by land, so air travel is a must, and LATAM has a large social impact in that respect.

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

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In This Episode

[1:27]: What makes LATAM such a unique airline?
[2:40]: Trends in the travel marketplace that are impacting innovation at LATAM
[4:13]: Innovation around ancillary management at LATAM
[6:25]: Women in Travel and Rosario’s experience becoming a leader at LATAM
[9:40]: Advice for other women trying to break into the travel industry

Full Transcript

Aditi Mehta: Hello and welcome to PROS Travel podcast series, The View From 30,000 Feet. I'm your host, the Aditi Mehta. In this episode, Rosario Phillips from LATAM Airlines discusses what's unique about LATAM as well as what it's like to be a leading woman in a male dominated travel industry. Let's take a listen....

Rosario, it's so great to have you here. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

Rosario Phillips: Thank you very much for inviting me.

Aditi Mehta: Great. So can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you landed in the travel industry?

Rosario Phillips: Great. I am engineer, so I started doing something completely different. I started working at LATAM was my first job when I was out of the university, but I started working in maintenance. So I did that for a couple of years and then moved to something else. But really missed the company and the industry and when baba to do something totally different. So I rejoined the company in the sales team specifically, and I did also a little bit of network planning and other things in the commercial team, before landing into revenue management. That is definitely what I enjoy the most.

Rosario Phillips: And I have been working in revenue management for 10 years, more than less. I had an interruption for a couple of years to study abroad and I also work in Amazon a couple of years, but then I returned to South America and specifically to LATAM again to revenue management.

Aditi Mehta: Oh, that's great.

Rosario Phillips: Yeah.

Aditi Mehta: So LATAM, it's a very unique airline in that it covers so many markets. So what's so unique about LATAM in the markets that you serve?

Rosario Phillips: I think that's something that is very unique, about LATAM is that a main of our operations are in South America. We operate six domestic markets in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Peru on top of all the international routes of course. And there are many pieces of land that couldn't be connected-

Rosario Phillips: South America is such a big piece of land with very geographic complexities, there're many places that are not connected by train or you cannot go from one place to another by car. I think that we have like a huge social impacted in that respect. And I think also that is very unique to the Latin American market is that many or most a big percentage of our travelers are first time travelers.

Rosario Phillips: So that leaps per capita in Latin America but relatively low compared to more developed markets. So we are also changing a lot of peoples lives, getting them to an airplane for the first time.

Aditi Mehta: Wow, that's really interesting. What are some trends that you're seeing in the travel industry that's impacting innovation at LATAM?

Rosario Phillips: I think that the ... Well probably something that many industries and many airlines had in common, but the mobile, the fact that everybody has a mobile phone in Latin America we have a huge amount of mobile phones. So the mobile phone penetration is very high. Of course, it's changing a lot the way that we want to contact and interact with our customers.

Rosario Phillips: So we are investing a lot of efforts on that respect. I think that the data in all these trend on data and analytics. All the information that is available on the internet, on social media and how we use this data to make better decisions in revenue management but also in other decisions or other parts of our product or value proposition are things that we are really incorporating. So we are working on all the use of data and we created a last year our analytics, corporate analytics team and we did a whole organizational change to be able to cope with the talent in a proper way.

Rosario Phillips: So I think that trend is also very important and also personalization. It's something that we are like really looking into it. So I would say that these are the three most relevant trends that we are incorporating into our roadmap.

Aditi Mehta: Right. So you touched on a little bit of the technologies that you guys are looking at to help with data analytics and the mobile application. A huge topic that airlines are talking about its ancillary. What are some of the technologies or partners that you're looking at to help you drive that innovation?

Rosario Phillips: Well, we have been in a process that we were first rebuilding our foundations because after the marriage between LAN and TAM in 2012 we had a lot of work to do in terms of getting the basic systems standardize and basically everything lean.

Rosario Phillips: So that took us quite a time and now seems the last three years we are looking at the getting new technologies for example we are working harder on the new sales technology or NDC partner. So not much that I can comment on that because we are on the middle of the process.

Rosario Phillips: We are also working in some other initiatives with a small startups trying not to build everything by ourselves. So we are working with a Spanish company Caravelo, to create some kind of solutions to interact with our passengers when we have a contingency or we have flights where that we could be post optimized. So it's something that we are working with them and I think that's a probably the most relevant part. We continue working with PROS and in some other initiatives.

Rosario Phillips: So for example, we migrate to a new group platform that is DSO. So we are very open in terms of looking for technologies. So of course there some things that are to our foundations but, we want to get the best all over the world, so we work with big vendors startups and also some things are developed by ourselves, so a bit of everything.

Aditi Mehta: Yeah, there's a lot of projects, lots of moving parts for that digital transformation at LATAM. That's great. I'm going to change tracks a little bit. This is a topic that I really love talking about. It's women in travel and when you're a woman, a leader at LATAM. I'd love to hear more about your experiences and the unique opportunities you've had as a woman in the travel industry.

Rosario Phillips: Well, LATAM is a company that has evolved a lot during the 10 years that I have been there. So every time we are having more and more women in executive positions. So there are a couple of things that I really highlight as very great experience being a woman at LATAM. So one is that I have never been ... I don't know being set back in terms of opportunities for being a woman. So in fact my husband works at the company as well and I remember when the marriage between LAN and TAM happened, that a lot of people was being considered to go to work in Brasil and something that I really appreciate is that instead making conclusions based on what my husband would do or not, they gave me the chance to speak up by myself.

Aditi Mehta: That's great.

Rosario Phillips: So I was offered same opportunities than all my peers and they asked me directly if I will be willing or not to go to Brazil. If I wanted to, so they consider me as an individual and they didn't infer that because I was a woman or I was married or my husband was not moving. That was my decision too.

Aditi Mehta: That's great.

Rosario Phillips: So this is something that I really appreciate it. Then something that for me was even more inspirational is that I have a couple of pregnancies that were complicated so I had to spend a lot of time in medical leave and for me this was never an issue. So in fact, I was promoted during that time.

Rosario Phillips: Because there was a position that was open because the manager that was there moved to another position in Columbia and they consider me for that role because they thought that the way I was the best person and they wait for me. So they didn't put me back because I was on the middle of the process of being pregnant and so on. So I think this was something like very unique and very awesome about-

Rosario Phillips: ... about LATAM. I see other women that have been in similar situations and it has been the same. So it's not only my case, I think that this is something that it's a really a mindset in the very senior executive setting of time.

Rosario Phillips: We also ... I have evolved a lot, becoming more flexible. So for example, now we can do home office we can, we have some flexibility. So for example, we can work like more hours between Monday and Thursday and have the afternoon off on Friday. So making a lot of progress in terms of life, work, balance. That for women, it's very important because I have two children. I want to also spend quality time with them.

Rosario Phillips: And really they are very flexible to make me do well both things. So my job but also my most important role it's a mother.

Aditi Mehta: Right. So would you have any advice for other women who are interested in the travel industry. How to get in?

Rosario Phillips: I think that, something that is very important is that if you want to have a family, you want to do both things, choose the right husband.

Aditi Mehta: Very important.

Rosario Phillips: Because sometimes I mean, this industry is global, so you have to travel and you have to make sure that you have support at home while you are not there. For example, I've been ... I'm going to be here in Vegas for a week.

Rosario Phillips: And now my husband is with my children, once I arrived he has to go to London. So you have to be with a partner that is like really willing to support you.

Aditi Mehta: Work with you, yeah.

Rosario Phillips: Because, they're many times when you have to take a time away.

Rosario Phillips: And you want to make sure that this is not an issue. I think this is important. And also I think that women, they have to be keen to look for opportunities. So I think that, we have a lot of unique characteristics that make us great and make us very vulnerable too for the travel industry.

Rosario Phillips: So most of the holiday vacations are decided by the women.

Rosario Phillips: And at least in my case, but I mean, I'm not the only one. We are the ones that choose what is the best place to go, how, what is the experience that we want to have with our children? So I think that we can add a lot of value in our point of view is very relevant and very important when companies are deciding their value proposition to customers.

Rosario Phillips: So I think we have a lot of contribution to make and definitely the industry need more and more women.

Aditi Mehta: That's great. Well, thank you so much for sitting down and taking the time to talk to me and I'm sure people across the industry, men and women would love to hear your insights. So thank you again.

Aditi Mehta: Thank you for listening. And a special thanks to Rosario Phillips from LATAM Airlines for taking the time to talk with us. This podcast is brought to you by PROS Travel and was recorded at our annual user conference in Las Vegas. At PROS, we help airlines on their journey toward offer optimization and digital transformation. For more information, please contact PROS.

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