SPECIAL GUEST BLOG POST BY ROSHAN MENDIS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR SABRE TRAVEL NETWORK ASIA PACIFIC

One year on from Sabre’s acquisition of Abacus International, a significant expansion into APAC for Sabre, Roshan Mendis shares an update on the Travel Network business here and his outlook for what lies ahead…

New technology is what powers the $7 trillion global travel industry we and our customers operate in, and it’s what drives Sabre. We introduced electronic commerce to the travel industry back in the twentieth century, pioneering online transactions as early as 1960, and we have been innovating in this space ever since. Today, Sabre operates the world’s largest travel marketplace and powers a technology ecosystem that touches almost every stage of the travel experience – from mobile apps, airport check-in kiosks and online travel sites to airline and hotel reservation networks, travel agent terminals, aircraft and crew scheduling systems, and scores of other solutions. We move with new technologies to keep the world moving, connecting, exchanging, exploring, experiencing.

Asia Pacific is on the move, too. The region is now the world’s largest travel market and by 2025 one third of all air traffic will originate from here. From the rapidly expanding emerging market middle classes sparking this aviation boom to the business travel recovery we’ve seen post-recession, travel here is thriving and the economic outlook is strong.

Growth will be written on vast new technological capabilities.
We’re essentially entering a new industrial era, globally, which will be defined by emerging technological possibilities. Cloud acceleration, storage, processing power, data and analytics, mobile (Asia Pacific to add 1.7 billion smartphone connections by 2020, half the global total), VR, AR, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. A new level of speed and scope is transpiring to drive major global disruption, changing the way we live, work… and travel.

Traveller expectations are evolving too.
Today’s hyper-connected mobile consumer already seeks more choice, relevancy, personalisation and instant gratification. The next (‘i’) generation, or Generation Z, growing up surrounded by unprecedented levels of technological capabilities – just take the Pokémon Go phenomenon sweeping the world right now – will propel consumer demands to new levels over the next two decades. The virtual will blur with reality, silos will disappear and global borders shrink in a world where tomorrow should have happened yesterday and the customer experience rules.

So traveller experience will shape the whole story.
Looking out from the centre of the travel ecosystem, where Sabre Travel Network operates, it’s clear that technology will re-write global travel as we know it. For airlines. For hotels. For travel agents. For travellers. Great technology has the power to re-define things we’ve mostly not even imagined can change yet. But it’s the evolving expectations of today’s consumers that will really shape what those changes looks like. Underpinning the way travel will be searched, shopped, sold and managed, is the potential for a better experience.

But new technologies are only great technologies if the audience they serve is ready for them.

Consumers don’t upgrade their iPhone worrying it may be harder to use. They do it knowing it will become immediately indispensable to them. The same should apply with any technology in any industry. Advanced technologies will always drive our business. But it will be our ability to continue matching these technologies to a customers’ unique challenges and opportunities, to deliver intuitive design and usability, and bring it all together with access to the right support and education, that will drive our customers’ businesses.

So, how are we doing this today? Travel Network APAC, one year in, is pairing the advantage of Sabre’s global network of innovators, content, vision and commitment to development (over US$1 billion in product and technology investment annually) with the local approach and support that our diverse region needs. With a presence in 29 Asia Pacific markets we now have the footprint and relationships to deliver new technologies… like the upcoming new Sabre Red Workspace… that we know will truly transform our customers’ businesses (and their customers’ experiences) as they write the next chapter of global travel, from APAC.