Sabre Travel Network has become the first GDS to host a meeting for rail suppliers to discuss sales and distribution issues affecting the sector and to unveil its long-term rail strategy.Ê The meeting, which was held recently in London, included European and North American representatives from 24 rail companies such as Deutsche Bahn, Eurostar and RailEurope.Ê Attendees heard about Sabre’s plans to put in place a retailing platform to co-ordinate rail sales and purchasing through the Sabre GDS, GetThere, Travelocity and lastminute.com.
Many railway companies are now competing with no frills carriers and other airlines to protect and grow their market share.Ê In order to develop and expand their businesses rail operators are looking to use multiple distribution channels to increase business from individual travellers, corporate customers and other rail operators.Ê Delegates agreed that their most pressing issue was how to use different distribution technologies in the most cost-effective way. ÊÊ
Dean Bibb, Sabre Travel Network’s European vice president of supplier relations and joint ventures, told delegates how last year Sabre surveyed rail suppliers and travel agencies in Europe, US and Canada to understand more about rail sector requirements.Ê As a result, the company is developing a strategy to consolidate rail content and replace the combination of platforms currently in use today across the entire range of Sabre businesses.Ê This will benefit travel agencies, and also provides opportunities for Travelocity, GetThere and lastminute.com to transfer rail content from the Sabre system and integrate it with their own businesses.
In the meantime, Sabre Travel Network is enhancing its UK rail offering by making Harry Weeks Travel’s Evolvi rail booking product available to Sabre Connected travel agencies in the UK from the third quarter of 2006.Ê The GDS operator has already started work on a fully integrated rail solution, also involving Harry Weeks Travel, for the UK market.Ê
David Mapp, commercial director of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said: “This was an extremely valuable meeting as we were able to hear first hand Sabre’s rail strategy and discuss rail sector issues with others in the industry.”
Dean Bibb added: “No other GDS operator has taken the initiative to bring rail suppliers together and discuss rail sector issues. We gained valuable insight into what rail suppliers want and need from us in the medium to long term.Ê At the same time, they were able to see first-hand how Sabre Travel Network provides the most efficient, comprehensive, global and real-time electronic supermarket for the buying and selling of rail travel.”
Sabre has also held similar meetings with its car and hotel suppliers.Ê Both meetings were well attended with representatives from leading brands and chains such as Accor, Intercontinental, Le Meridian Hotels and Resorts, Avis, Hertz and Europcar.