Technology

Sabre VP: “Consumer expectations are changing, the industry needs to change too”

Ali Coulton

It’s no secret that the key to top-selling agents’ success often relies on one simple thing: Personalisation.

We often think of the ability to personalise trips for clients as coming from years of experience, and loads of personal travel.

But according to Sabre’s regional vice president, Todd Arthur, there is a more time effective, fail-safe way to make sure you’re designing a truly unique trip that perfectly suits your client’s needs.

We sat down with Arthur during a recent trip to Australia to find out how Sabre is making travel agent lives easier.

He told us the answer to better personalisation is, of course, embracing new technologies.

This is particularly important considering the huge growth the travel industry sees each year.

“In 2017 the travel market in Australia grew 14.3 per cent. We know the GDP didn’t grow anywhere near that,” Arthur said.

“And for companies not to embrace the tech, it means they’re going to get left behind.

“If you consult one travel agent who is afraid of tech, and thinks it’ll ruin their business or take their job, their offers are not going to be as strong as the personalised, robust offering from an agent who is tech-savvy.”

According to Arthur, Sabre’s NDC offering helps make personalisation easier in terms of airline offerings.

In the past, the technology was set up to fulfil a massive amount of hits to our system and facilitate that,” Arthur told us.

“For example, from New York to London, there are 63 billion different fare combinations, and we needed to get those results within one or two seconds. Now with NDC which is a tech standard, we can get a much more personalised result to customers based on their preferences.

“So it can suggest things based on previous trips booked by that customer and offer them a price that includes lounge access if that’s something they would normally purchase, or extra luggage, or priority boarding.

“It allows airlines to personalise an offer for the consumer.”

NDC will allow agents to have access to airline offers such as upgrades, lounge access or extra luggage that they can sell directly to their customers.

So when your clients buy their ticket you can offer them these services that are personalised for them, which brings more value to the travel agent than other retailers.”

Arthur said Sabre’s product Beyond NDC does more than just fulfil the IATA standard, but actively collaborates with airline partners and travel agents.

We’ve been able to collaborate together, we go beyond NDC to collaborate with airlines and travel agency partners to see how we can make it work, develop integrate and test to make something usable, not just ticking a box but making something valuable.

“Consumer expectations are changing and the industry needs to change with them.

“My message to the agency community is that you’re part of an industry that grows much faster than the local economy is growing.

“You’re going to need technology that will help you grow at that same level,” he concluded.

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