The Future of Travel Retailing: Elevating the Passenger Experience

Sabre is forging ahead in its ambition to modernize travel industry standards and accelerate retailing transformation, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with IATA in a shared vision for the future. 

Over the coming weeks, we will lead you step-by-step on that journey towards change. This blog series will break down some of the key themes presented in IATA’s most recent white paper to support a common understanding of the challenges and benefits of moving to an Offer and Order model. 

In this first blog we’ve chosen to view the industry through the eyes of the traveler, tackling their most common frustrations at key stages of the travel journey; from shopping, booking and payment through to pre, during and post-travel touchpoints. Many of the challenges arise from inherent limitations within existing business processes and technologies. We highlight where and how the traveler experience could be improved once the transition to a retailing model has been completed – and how this would ultimately drive increased revenue across the travel ecosystem. 

In future blogs we’ll peel back the layers of Offer and Order as we take a closer look at the challenges and opportunities from the perspective of an airline, explore the core building blocks of a robust retailing solution, and break down some of the complex legacy processes that will, over time, yield to upgraded solutions that are better able to meet and exceed customer expectations.

A broader selection of more targeted products and services will enhance the customer experience, improve conversion rates and ultimately drive increased revenue for travel providers.

A simple and customer-friendly booking process increases the likelihood of customers booking ancillaries and added value extras.

Consumers want greater choice in how and when they pay for products and services, including travel.

Clear and transparent communication, combined with rapid resolution of issues, increases traveler satisfaction and drives long-term customer value for an airline.

Capitalizing on untapped opportunities to instill consumer loyalty is a proven path to repeat business and enhanced revenue growth.

*Statistics referenced within this article originate from a survey commissioned by Sabre in Q4 2021 comprising over 10,000 global respondents

Responsiveness to change is critical to long-term success.

As we’ve shown in the illustrations above, there are multiple opportunities for the travel industry to progress beyond the principles and processes that brought it to this point in its evolution. The established ways of working may still be fit for purpose, but the travel industry is poised to enter a dynamic new phase in its development – one which offers exciting opportunities for growth and progression beyond those on offer today.   

Technological advancements in the last 15 years have catalyzed more innovative and progressive thinking within the travel sector. At the same time, consumer expectations have evolved across all facets of modern life, including travel. People have become accustomed to technology-driven, self-serve, personalized shopping experiences.   

To date, in the eyes of consumers, the travel industry – and airlines in particular – have struggled to deliver. The limits of many existing systems and processes have been reached or exceeded, and consumer demands are outpacing the industry’s ability to evolve. Sabre firmly believes that travel providers must pivot towards simplified, scalable, end-to-end solutions that deliver highly personalized travel experiences. 

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Read next: Why should airlines care about Offers and Orders?