Partner Perspective: NDC as a technology pillar, with Robin Sohdi of Polani Travel Group

We recently announced an extension of our partnership with Polani Travel Group, a multi-brand travel company with a focus on global leisure and charity travel. Sabre supports PTG through Air Shopping APIs, Sabre Virtual Payments, Sabre Red 360, and other end to end value-drivers across the full travel landscape.

As we look ahead, opportunities like NDC will play an even bigger role. Robin Sohdi, Head of Supplier Relations at Polani Group, sat down with our own Richard Addey, Regional Director, Western Europe and South Africa for Sabre Travel Solutions, to talk about the company’s vision and priorities for the partnership.

Richard Addey: What are you looking for in a technological partner? What can Sabre bring you within the next 5 years?

Robin Sohdi: Flying hasn’t changed—the shape wing has not changed–but distribution has changed dramatically. With Sabre, we are in a partnership where there is a level of reciprocity. We feel that we can come to you now, because of the relationship that we’ve had, and say, “we want this, or can you help us with this, or we want to go in this direction.” We’ve quite clearly identified what our strategies are in terms of growth, but the other side of the strategy, where Sabre will become key for us is NDC.

And NDC goes beyond three letters. NDC is a paradigm shift in thinking, selling, displaying, because a GDS for us, is a shop window and then we just have to go in and choose what we want.
But it’s become more dynamic, and I think Sabre has developed along the routes. So, whilst there is a component that’s the commercial agreement, there is also the technical support, and the support that we get from you and your team. That makes a difference, because in this day and age, if you don’t get on with someone and there’s vested commercial interests on both sides, and there’s no level of support or responsiveness then we wouldn’t be able to work together. The responsiveness can still be, “no, you can’t have it,” but there’s a response.

So, the long answer to a short question about what we’re looking for from Sabre and why we choose Sabre is that Sabre’s a rock. It’s been there for a long time. I think we still have a lot of work to do together, and the good thing is that we actually engage in dialogue that has a degree of reciprocity. You don’t always give us what we want, but we have an understanding, and I think that’s really important for us.

The GDS alters the way you can approach the shop market the way that you sell the way that you pay. The way that you interact as well, and that’s what we’re looking for: more interaction with Sabre, but also with our customers through the use of a GDS and all the various software that’s available.

RA: That’s very interesting, and I certainly looking look forward to it. From your point of view, what would be the first priority within 2021-2022–what are the first themes that you’re thinking about in regards to transformation?

RS: I think one of the keywords is the acronym: NDC. That’s a big thing, because we see NDC as a pillar. It’s a technology pillar that will allow us to sell ancillary revenues, to gain incremental revenue streams, but also to get access to some of the choice carriers like BA (British Airways), Emirates and some other carriers. They’re saying, well, if you want the contracted fares or the net fares, you have to be NDC-compliant or NDC-ready.

The other key thing is ensuring that we have access to full content. We are targeting a new segment of the market, B2H (business to humanitarian), and we’re developing different platforms, different content, etc., and we want to make sure that Sabre’s on board with us and they understand us. But also, that you engage with us in a consultative way that you give us guidance, because we understand Pakistan or we understand travel, but sometimes we don’t understand how best to optimize the technology that we have. And that’s what we would look to Sabre for, to help us optimize. Maybe on a monthly quarterly basis, we sit down and you and your team will say, “how about maximizing this this and this, or doing it in a different way,” and I think it’s giving a consultative approach to managing our relationship.

RA: Robin, I’d like to thank you for sharing about Polani and the vision that you have for the future. I certainly look forward to updating everyone the next five years to show the growth and the success that we have together. Looking forward to supporting you throughout that journey and in the years to come. Thank you very much for your trust and Sabre and the partnership that we’re going to have for the next five years.