Technology supplier and Global Distribution System Sabre says it is not waiting for new industry airfare distribution standards to be established.
The US firm will be showcasing the latest version of its travel agency Sabre Red Workspace at next week’s Travel Technology Europe trade show in London.
The updated platform will be rolled out in the UK later this year, with Sabre saying it will offer enhanced merchandising capabilities so agents can modernise how they retail to customers.
Sabre says the new technology has been developed with Iata’s New Distribution Capability standard in mind, but this is just one component of the future of travel retailing.
Eric Hallerberg, managing director for UK, Ireland and the Benelux countries, said Sabre has recognised the need for hybrid systems to reflect NDC as well as current standards.
“BA, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are talking about NDC and investing in it, but that’s just four out of hundreds of airlines,” he said.
“We are going to have to invest in a dual marketplace for a while yet. We are going to have to be able to run these technologies side by side.”
Hallerberg said as the early adopters of NDC develop new products and bring them to market you can expect hiccups along the way.
But he said NDC has “succeeded in changing the mindset across the eco-system in that you can have indirect and direct distribution and they can essentially be the same”.
Hallerberg said Sabre will become Level Three NDC aggregator certified by the end of the year and then it will be up to the airlines to do the work so they can distribute through it.
But he said it will be a while yet before the standard are widely used and integrated into technology partners’ systems.
“The hybrid channel is us making it very clear that no one is going to be NDC enabled right away,” he said.
“We will continue to provide the services required for traveller sellers to participate in the marketplace. NDC is just a different standard, we will develop it and keep it alongside the other capabilities.”
Sabre is one of TTE’s main conference sponsors for the 15th annual London trade show.
Hallerberg will address visitors at a session on the first day (February 21) in the Innovate Theatre entitled ‘Beyond NDC – The Evolution of Travel Retailing and Distribution’.
Sabre said its new Red Workspace has been developed in partnerships with agents to book in a more intuitive way and suppliers can market as they do on other channels.
It says agents will have data at their fingertips they previously haven’t been able to access and a “consumer-grade” interface to enable them to deliver personalised offers and consultancy.
Sabre said: “The new Sabre Red Workspace intelligent platform features innovative integration of Sabre Dev Studio APIs, to equip travel consultants with a unique decision support bar providing market data and intelligence services for fare trend and range, travel seasonality and alternate airports.”
This enabled agent to advise on the best time to book to get the best price, predict the best days of travel, or even offer more options to choose from including alternate airports displayed in interactive maps.
The interface also integrates revenue maximisation tools, including indicators that alert travel consultant about opportunities to increase sales and commissions while offering differentiated options that cater to the traveller’s preferences.
Sabre said enhanced product information, especially for air extras and branded fares, simplifies the shopping experience and reduces training times for newly hired travel consultants.
It added the new workspace is also an enhanced platform for suppliers with advanced merchandising capabilities and product information with images, video and more.
“The new Sabre Red Workspace will provide a consistent user experience across multiple operating systems and devices, including desktop, Sabre Red Mobile for consultants while on-the-go, and Sabre Web Services powering the world’s leading online travel agencies.
“The new merchandising platform is an upgrade that proves continuous innovation to provide stability, speed and performance in travel commerce transactions,” the firm said.
Visitors can see demonstrations of the new workspace on stand TT108.