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Friday, 04 November, 2016, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

Sabre, Making the Right Noise

Over a year after acquiring Abacus, Sabre Corporation through the APAC TTX reiterated its commitment to the region, and what better destination than China to host the event. Nearly 500 delegates from across the world converging at this technology marketplace, clearly showed the dominance of Sabre in the GDS space, globally.
Untitled Document

Disha Shah Ghosh

Roshan Mendis, Senior VP, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific with Jeet Sawhney, Regional Director, Sabre Travel Network South Asia
Delegates at the Sabre APAC TTX at JW Marriott Beijing

With Beijing having welcomed over 4.2 million overseas tourists in 2015, and more than 425,000 travel agency subscribers of its global marketplace contributing to these bookings, it was apt for Sabre Corporation to choose China as the venue for the APAC Travel Technology Exchange (TTX) 2016. More than a year after acquiring Abacus, Sabre is now looking at consolidating its position in the APAC region and the event was a step in that direction. With an unprecedented focus on the region, Sabre released a research report, ‘The Polarisation of Asian Travellers’, offering insights into the changing travel patterns of Asian travellers. Recognising the contribution of its partners in its growth story, Sabre also hosted a Gala Awards dinner, where top agents and operators from each country in the region were recognised for their contributon to Sabre’s business.

L-R: Tai Parata, Director - Online Sales, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific receiving the award on behalf of, Jeet Sawhney, Regional Director, Sabre Travel Network South Asia; Abdul Nazar Karuppam Veetil, CMD, Akbar Travels of India Private Limited; Roshan Mendis, Senior VP, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific; Ankur Chatterjee, Country Manager, Sabre India; Amit Madhan, President & Group Head, Information Technology, Thomas Cook India, receiving the award on behalf of Manoj Chacko, CEO, SOTC.

Over 500 delegates from more than 26 countries converged at the JW Marriott Beijing. The event on September 22 was thrown open by Chief Lu Chuan, Director of City Image and Marketing for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development. The by-invitation event saw delegates deliberate on the new technologies making waves in the industry globally.

Welcoming the delegates, Roshan Mendis, Senior VP, Sabre Travel Network, Asia Pacific, said, “Travel is a basic human need,” adding that Sabre has undertaken 1.8 billion bookings in the past 15 years.

Sean Menke, President, Sabre Travel Network, updated delegates on the Travel Network business strategy, and the three priorities underpinning Sabre’s new product development to meet agency and supplier needs. These focus areas include using business intelligence to optimise customer performance, driving more personalisation for travellers and merchandising options for suppliers, and, for agents, automation and efficiency solutions to reduce costs.

Wade Jones, Senior VP - Marketing and Strategy, Sabre Travel Network, talked about how the business has evolved from being just a GDS to become a multi-layered, modern platform company. “The traveller ecosystem has grown and diversified, and our Travel Network team has built an upgraded technology platform that’s modelled on this. At the heart of this platform sits the GDS. That core technology is still critically important. But now, if you look from top to bottom you also see Sabre supporting endpoints like mobile, new User Interfaces for agents and application services across our offerings – all resting on powerful shared platform services.” Sabre APAC TTX 2016 was spread over an exhibition cum interactive session format.

New Sabre Red Workspace
Sabre unveiled its newest product for selling and booking, the new Sabre Red Workspace merchandising platform, alongside other key solution showcases at APAC TTX.
Speakers from Sabre’s Asia Pacific and US leadership teams discussed opportunities like agency automation to adopting messaging apps for travel along with discussing the most important trends and technologies disrupting travel.

Talking about the platform, Anupam Bokil, VP, Technology Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific, said, “The new Sabre RedWorks Space offers data analytics, better ability to merchandise and sell hotels, providing the right offer to the right customer at the right time. As a software deployment it is not going to be any different, as tools within the graphical user interface for merchandising, decision support bar, intuitive workflow and data analysis are new features. The aim here is seamless transition for various kinds of bookings.”

The penetration of Internet in India is set to grow further with 1.3 million Facebook users. Bokil, said, “We would like to undertake pilot projects with our customers for the new Sabre RedWorks Space.”


India Focus
“From a regional perspective, Sabre in Asia Pacific enjoys nearly 40% market share for GDS following the acquisition of Abacus,” said Jones. However, in India, Sabre is the smallest player in the GDS space. Talking about the opportunity that India offers, Jones said, “India is a critically important market for us. Our core competency is the GDS, which is different from the airlines that were the owner carriers of Abacus. Therefore, we decided by owning 100% of the company, we could set different priorities; one of them was to aggressively pursue the Indian market. The Abacus acquisition meant we invest additionally in the Bengaluru centre to improve our services. Our commitment to the Indian market, will translate into significant investment in the technology and marketing segments.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Bokil said that they are bringing resources that are “global” and using the “local knowledge of the Abacus team to bring the best to the Indian market.” In the last two years, Sabre has launched 30 applications globally, some of which have been rolled out in India.

‘We have the biggest opportunity to grow in India’


Q. How has the transition been since Sabre’s acquisition of Abacus been?

A. The transition has been good; it has been 14 months now. We completed most of the integration by the end of the first quarter this year. We are now set to roll out our next set of products. We have established a stronger technology focus with a new APAC P&T division, allowing for flexible technology development adapting fast to market changes, we’ve added two new global customer support centres in APAC – in Singapore and India, and we have a bigger team of specialists in place around the region. We also have a stronger business structure with regional and country managers – including in India – which allows us to do more tailored business relevant to each local market. But most importantly, our customers seem to be happy with the transition, and the feedback has been positive.

Q. Where does Sabre stand in the Indian market and how are you meeting competition from other established players in the GDS space?

A. In the Indian market we are the smallest player, so we have the biggest opportunity to grow. With the acquisition of Abacus, we have made a fresh start in the Indian market. But our strategy in India is to systemically build a quality business that grows organically. This starts with helping our existing customers grow. Instead of chasing new customers, we are focused on renewing the old ones and helping them grow their business. Of course we will continue to showcase the Sabre proposition to new customers too – a host of new and existing customers attended Sabre TTX. But if we focus first and foremost on our existing customers in India and their evolving and nuanced needs, we will lay strong foundations for sustainable India growth.

Q. Any plans to set up technology centres in India, besides the one in Benglauru?

A. There are no immediate plans to expand our technology base in India further. We have been expanding our technology presence in Bengaluru significantly, doubling our staff count here in the last year to 1,400 employees, and establishing a big campus which is home to one of our global development centres supporting multiple technology functions for Sabre. These investments have culminated in Sabre being awarded one of the top 50 IT/ITes companies to work for in India. We have also recently gone through an extensive expansion process in India within the Travel Network, opening 7-8 offices in quick succession. Our immediate plan is to captialise on this investment. In the short-term, we may look at the possibility of appointing additional account managers in and around strategic customers.

Q. Where does India rank in comparison to China for Sabre in the GDS space?

A. India is an open market for GDS players to compete in, while China as a market is still quite closed for foreign GDS business. However, China is a massive market in terms of travel… Today in China, our Travel Network business works with Chinese airlines to help them distribute their international fares outside of China, while our airline and hospitality solutions businesses do already work with China-based airlines and hotels to provide software solutions in China.

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