The evolution of airline products, distribution strategies and traveler behaviors are impacting business models across the travel ecosystem, driven by big data and emerging technologies. This was the conclusion of the travel industry leaders at the first-ever Sabre Space: Travel Leaders Forum in Moscow on July 3, as they discussed intelligent retailing, industry dynamics and the growing influence of NDC, and shared these key takeaways:
1. Prepare your company now for the next wave in travel: personalization.
“A world of personalized travel, of ‘just-what-I-want, just-how-I-want-it’ is right around the corner in travel,” said Stephan Wippermann, vice president, Central & Eastern Europe, Sabre. “Sabre’s goal is to deliver the next-generation of retailing, distribution and fulfillment solutions. With the Sabre platform at the center of the business of travel, we are innovating intelligent solutions that help customers drive increased revenue, operate more efficiently and deliver personalized experiences. We strongly believe that there is ‘power in partnership’ and that intensive collaboration will unlock significant value for all travel industry stakeholders.”
2. Top airlines are going “Beyond NDC,” but not without travel agencies.
One such successful collaboration, Sabre’s Beyond NDC program – a cross-industry initiative to accelerate the development, integration and testing of NDC-enabled end-to-end solutions – was a central part of Sabre Space’s discussions. Executives with Beyond NDC partners Delta Air Lines and Finnair shared insights into their NDC growth strategies and the role travel agencies are playing within them.
“Respecting customer choice is essential, and we aim to let the customers buy through whatever channel they prefer,” said Bob Hannah, director sales Continental Europe, Delta Airlines. “NDC is a significant step toward reaching our main goal: creating a single source of content. An agency or customer should see the same purchasing information no matter what channel they choose.”
Finnair’s Kalle Immonen, head of distribution and revenue protection, discussed how Finnair is also investing in digital channels, including indirect channels. “We see great opportunities to make distribution more efficient with new technology. Travel agents continue to be an integral part of our strategy, and we greatly value the role they play in serving our customers.”
3. Travel agents will continue to rely on the GDS as they integrate NDC content.
NDC was also explored from the vantage point of agencies and TMCs. As they look for the best way to integrate airlines’ new content into their workflows, the role of global technology companies will play in helping them achieve this goal is becoming increasingly apparent, as Stanislav Kostyashkin, CEO of Continent Express, noted.
“Content availability and data normalization has been among the key issues not only for TMCs, but for all travel intermediaries,” said Kostyashkin. “The GDS takes the key role in addressing this challenge by investing billions of dollars in technologies. None of the airlines is investing that much in developing IT distributive platforms. For this reason, the GDS remains one of the most efficient distribution channels for agencies.”
4. Sabre remains committed to delivering the technology that will drive next-generation, intelligent retailing.
Sabre remains perfectly positioned to provide these efficient solutions, explained Anastasia Lavrenyuk, head of Sabre in Russia, Ukraine and the CIS, noting our deep technological expertise and long track record in normalizing content from diverse data sources into a single marketplace.
“Sabre has been helping travel companies to transform and be successful for more than 60 years,” she said. “Our innovations drive the evolution of the industry. It’s our goal to provide a reliable, stable, secure and scalable technology platform that will help drive growth and profitability for all players across the ecosystem.”
Lavrenyuk also stressed that intelligent retailing is not just a set of products and tools – it is a significant shift in the way we book travel that may very well reshape the industry’s entire business model.