Travellers are becoming more demanding. They want personalised travel experiences. They want convenience and the ability to book quick and simply. And they want to know they’re getting the best options available. It’s no surprise that air shopping – where travellers can access a vast array of airline schedules and fares to create their ideal itinerary options – continues to grow year on year. For a long time our shopping platform has been focused on returning the lowest fares, which we know travellers all search for. Our investment in a robust air shopping platform is evident when we benchmark against the competition. “Sabre consistently finds the lowest fare, which results in significant savings for our customers,” comments Brett Burgess, Travel Commerce & Shopping Solutions, Sabre Travel Network. “Our latest study found we offer the lowest price 10% more often than Amadeus, and 7% more often than Travelport [1].” But in this new world of travel, what else do we need to consider when it comes to our air shopping platform?

Be super responsive

As technology advances, people are now shopping for travel in new, different ways. They shop on the go, searching for travel via smartphones and mobile devices. In fact, we’ve seen shopping requests increase 100% in the last 12 months, and we believe it will continue to rise. Not only that, travellers expect results – fast. With access to offers in real time. For OTAs and agencies, this response time is key. With so much competition around, if customers are kept waiting, they might just click away to a competitor. And if flights aren’t being returned quickly enough, people aren’t booking them. At Sabre, we understand the importance of fast search. We return 5000 shopping requests and around 1 million bookable itineraries every second. One of our key goals is to continue to drive down response times even more. “That’s why we continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing our air shopping capabilities,” continues Brett Burgess. What’s more, we know that people generally buy from the first page of results. Which is why our search results are filtered to customers’ specific preferences – so they can see our full range of options, but won’t spend ages searching for their ideal fare.

Make sure it’s bookable

Being able to return billions of search results is only good if you can actually book those same results. Customers don’t want to find the ideal flight or hotel room only to find that it’s not actually available when they return to book. If they do, they’ll lose interest and go to a competitor. At Sabre, bookability is a key component of our shopping platform, and we ensure it stays as high as possible – a rate of 94% or higher. This means that, out of the 70 billion fully priced itineraries available on our system every day, it’s rare to find a flight or ancillary which cannot be booked immediately at the price shown. And we’re always looking at ways to improve this further, to deliver even more bookable results.

Offer more diversity

While consumers want access to the lowest fare, they don’t always necessarily book that fare. They might opt for one that is slightly more expensive but better suits their personal requirements. They might prefer to fly with a particular airline. Or they might want more convenient travel times, the ability to fly from a different airport, or added extras like in-flight meals, bag check or extra legroom. While research shows that 55% of travellers now want more than just the lowest price, offering that low price is still vital. It sets a baseline of what customers can expect and helps to build trust. At Sabre, we continuously strive to offer the lowest possible fares. But we don’t stop there, we also provide ancillaries to ensure customers can start with the low fare, then tailor the best and cheapest itineraries for them.

Give customers more

While customers will always prefer to pay the lowest price for their travel, other trends and factors are becoming more prevalent in their buying decisions. So, while being cheapest is good, it’s no longer enough. OTAs and agents also have to be the fastest, the most convenient, the most competitive, the most reliable and offer the widest choice while delivering the best customer service. Otherwise, competitors are only a click away. See how Sabre’s platform handles the increase in shopping requests, while ensuring we still deliver the lowest, most diverse fares in this video featuring Brett Burgess, Vice President, Travel Commerce & Shopping Solutions, Sabre Travel Network. [1] Best Fare Study – Phase 3, Dr Fried & Partner, 2017