has formed a European team to expand the amount of rail travel its customers can book. The system currently allows British users to book on Eurostar and on domestic rail networks. It wants to expand this capability across Europe and to include bookable content from rail operators in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Benelux region.The members of the new team are based in Sabre Travel Network’s existing EMEA development centres, including Hamburg, Dublin, London and Swindon in England. They report to Floyd Widener, vice-president of GetThere and corporate travel at Sabre Travel Network.
“Bookable rail content is the next big step for GetThere in Europe,” Widener said. “We’ve delivered all the major priorities that our European customers have specified, including no-frills airline content, and we fully intend to deliver rail as well. Then other customer requirements will follow.”
Widener said it was a testament to the European success of corporate self-booking tools (SBTs) that bookable rail content had become a requirement.
“GetThere was the first SBT to break into the European market and at the time many potential customers said their staff would resist using us to book air travel. Today those same customers are booking hundreds of thousands of air segments each year, but now also want rail.”
GetThere users in the UK can already book domestic rail travel through an alliance with TheTrainline, a British rail booking site. Widener did not give timescales for the planned release dates for expanded European rail content.
“It’s a little early in the day for that - we’ll communicate anticipated timelines just as soon as we can. It’s fair to say, though, that we expect customers to see tangible progress in the first quarter of next year.”
Widener said the race was on between European corporate self-booking tool providers to see who would be the first to come up with a fully-bookable rail product for Europe.
“We all currently offer limited rail content but nobody yet has what I would call a comprehensive rail offering for Europe. Realistically, we’ll probably all get to the finishing line at pretty much the same time. Corporate buyers will then be better able to evaluate the different SBTs to assess which ones are really delivering widespread, proven adoption and savings.”
GetThere’s European rail team will work in tandem with Sabre Travel Network developers to build bookable rail content into the system. They will also work independently.
“The objective is to get good, solid bookable rail content into the GetThere system, and we’ll work with whoever we can to make that happen,” Widener said. “GetThere has the advantage of complete GDS neutrality and this appeals to rail operators and some of the third-party content providers with whom we’ve had discussions.”