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Intelligent Airline Retailing

Lessons from the  Formula 1 grid

The Formula 1 season is in full swing and – thanks to the Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’ – its popularity is surging. Just like Sabre who recently announced our revolutionary AI-centric airline retailing platform, SabreMosaic, Formula 1 is at the cutting edge of innovation and technology. Put your airline in pole position for retail transformation with these ‘intelligent’ strategies from the Formula 1 grid.

Glitz, glamor and Google Cloud

Last month was the Monaco Grand Prix, arguably the most prestigious and glamorous Grand Prix location. For many racing drivers, taking the checkered flag in Monaco represents the pinnacle of sporting success. The iconic street circuit is incredibly demanding, with strategy and intelligence playing a vital role in deciding the outcome.

At Sabre, we believe intelligence is a critical ingredient for airline retailing success, and we’ve infused AI into our offer- and order-based retailing platform, leveraging the enormous potential in areas such as:

  • Advanced data science
  • Experimentation
  • AI/ML to optimize across variables
  • AI/ML to optimize on the go

For airlines looking to boost their retailing intelligence, we’ve got you covered. Our open, modular and Google Cloud-native tech platform provides the foundation for high-performance retailing – but it’s our integrated intelligence that really sets SabreMosaic apart.

Data and analytics

How Mercedes-AMG finds a competitive edge

During Grand Prix races, the Mercedes-AMG team is bombarded with data from various sensors on their cars. AI and ML algorithms analyze this data in real time, providing insights into car performance, tire degradation and track conditions. This rich data provides actionable insights enabling the team to make intelligent decisions about fuel management, engine settings and pit stop strategies.

Similarly, modern airline retailing relies on data analytics to understand traveler behavior, preferences, and buying patterns, enabling airlines to tailor their services and offerings accordingly. SabreMosaic utilizes Google Cloud’s BigQuery data warehouse which allows airlines to store, analyze and interrogate virtually unlimited volumes of data in such a way as to make it actionable. This data can then be consumed by Google’s best-in-class Vertex AI solution (as well as other non-Google tools) to build a comprehensive and accurate picture of travelers and present them with the most relevant content, increasing the likelihood of those offers converting into revenue-generating orders. 

At Sabre, BigQuery and Vertex AI help power our Retail Intelligence suite of products, which several of our airline partners are already using to create value for themselves and their passengers.

Intelligent experimentation

Red Bull gives you wings

Since the Red Bull team burst onto the Formula 1 scene less than two decades ago, they’ve succeeded in changing the landscape of Formula 1. They achieved this by challenging the status quo, experimenting and pushing technology to the limit. Their willingness to experiment has paid dividends, winning them multiple driver and constructor championships in one of the most competitive sports environments.

Red Bull have proven to be dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking – everything the airline industry aspires to be as it transforms towards modern retailing, breaking free from tradition in the process. Just as racing teams like Red Bull experiment with new and innovative car designs, so airlines can embrace intelligent experimentation to give their retailing capabilities ‘wings’.

Sabre’s experimentation engine, based on a type of AI/ML known as reinforcement learning, provides exciting opportunities for airlines and travel sellers. Experimentation engines do not rely on extensive historical data; instead, they try out multiple options and observe the outcomes. The models learn from those outcomes, adjust parameters as needed, and run the process again (and again, and again).

Advanced ML experimentation like this enables airlines using our modular SabreMosaic platform to create contextualized offers for travelers, which increases the likelihood of conversion.

‘Forza ferrari’

Balancing speed and efficiency with the help of AI

In Formula 1, speed matters. But it’s far from the only consideration when design teams are looking to optimize their race car. Ferrari employs cutting-edge AI when analyzing various configurations with different shapes, angles and internal structures. Through AI simulations, they can find the optimal design – one that maximizes straight-line speed while ensuring sufficient downforce to maintain grip when cornering.

When looking to optimize offer conversion in a competitive retail environment, airlines must strike a similarly intelligent balance. Fractions of a second define the difference between conversions and abandoned searches. But the offers presented to travelers must also be relevant, personalized and contextualized to successfully convert into revenue-generating orders.

At Sabre, we’ve got you covered. We’ve partnered with Google, whose global network has the highest throughput (fastest processing rate) available from any cloud vendor*. Our Air Price IQ™ product – created as a result of our strategic partnership with Google – delivers dynamic and intelligent airline pricing that could increase air fare revenue opportunities by up to 3%.

* 2021 Cockroach Labs Cloud Report 


Using high-performance AI/ML computing to optimize performance

As one of the oldest and most successful teams in Formula 1, McLaren understands the importance of embracing the latest technological advances when it comes to winning Grand Prix. AI/ML can play a critical role in analyzing the billions of potential configurations of a race car’s aerodynamic components. Throw other variables into the mix – race strategy, driver preferences, track configuration, weather conditions – and it’s easy to see the level of customization and personalization that’s required to stay competitive.

In airline retailing, there is a growing emphasis on travel experiences that cater to individual customer needs. As the industry has shifted to selling more individual ancillaries and branded fare bundles, the opportunities for more dynamic pricing with AI/ML technology have grown.

Our Ancillary IQ™ product considers passenger, trip and marketplace insights to present personalized airline ancillary products and bundles that travelers are most likely to purchase. Embedded machine learning models, powered by Sabre Travel AI™, optimize all ancillary offers in real time, whether that be seats, bags, Wi-Fi, lounge passes or any other airline ancillary you sell. In practice, our customers have seen incremental ancillary revenue gains of up to 10% from the use of Ancillary IQ.

This trademark quote from Formula 1 commentator David Croft sums up the current state of play with airline retailing transformation. Several airlines have already started the race towards their retailing goals with Sabre, and are realizing the tangible benefits of our intelligent, modular and open solutions powered by Sabre Travel AI™.  

With our high-performance technology, we’re accelerating innovation and advancing the travel industry. Learn more about our revolutionary SabreMosaic airline retailing platform, designed alongside airlines and tech partners to pave the way to offers and orders, helping your airline perform even as you transform.

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