Sabre Travel Network announced the launch of the Efficient Access Solution as a foundation for the company’s new portfolio of customizable end-to-end solutions for travel agents serving the corporate and leisure travel segments. The Efficient Access Solution provides a balanced approach for addressing travel agents’ requirements for full content and airlines’ desire to reduce costs.
Program carriers receive a discounted booking fee for reservations made by agencies enrolled in the program. In return the airline agrees to provide key benefits and protections to travel agencies participating in the program.
Travel agencies participating in the Efficient Access Solution agree to certain financial terms in exchange for the significant benefits and protections afforded by the new agreements, which include full content and protection from airline service fees that may be levied by airlines in the program. In addition, the program provides for continuing agency incentives for all program members.
The Efficient Access Solution also sets the stage for the next phase of Sabre’s Efficient Marketplace with end-to-end solutions that during the next 18 months will bring together travel reservation and client management tools, training resources, and community interaction into easily configurable and innovative new options to manage and grow business for corporate and leisure agencies.
To date, the carriers covered under the Efficient Access Solution include: Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, Northwest Airlines and AirTran Airways. Each of these agreements includes a minimum five-year commitment to providing full content, helping to assure stability for the travel marketplace. Beginning August 1, full benefits of the Efficient Access Solution will be made available to travel agency customers in the United States, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
“As a travel management company, access to comprehensive air content via the most efficient methods possible is critical,” said Jean McDonnell Covelli, president, The Travel Team, Inc. “We understand the economics for long-term full content commitments have changed, and we believe Sabre’s new program represents a balanced solution.”
One of the primary goals of the Efficient Access Solution is to combat travel content fragmentation. A recent Sabre study reveals that disaggregating a small portion of today’s travel distribution model would cost the entire travel industry a staggering $1.5 billion or more per year.
“The assurance of full content for the long term is in the best interests of our customers, and doing so through an economic contribution without implementing additional systems throughout our organization is certainly preferable,” said Bob Chaiken, chief operating officer of Adelman Travel Group. “Fragmentation and service fees from the airlines would significantly increase costs and impair our ability to provide the high level of service our customers expect.”
In addition to ensuring full content, the Efficient Access Solution protects agencies from any service fees program carriers may introduce into the marketplace. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) research department on behalf of Sabre Holdings:
—84% of agents are “very concerned” about the introduction of service fees by airlines
—83% are “very concerned” about airlines withholding content
—69% noted that their customers are best served with full content through a single source
“Sabre worked hard to develop a multilateral approach that balances the needs of all industry players,” said Chris Kroeger, Sabre Travel Network senior vice president, North America. “Our goal has always been to provide agents a one-stop-shop for full travel content while accommodating the cost pressures experienced by airlines in today’s market. Full content is just the foundation, however. What we are announcing today is a clear pathway to new end-to-end suites tailored specifically to the needs of both the corporate and leisure travel community. Bottom line: we’re not just preserving the Efficient Marketplace - we’re providing new tools and services for agents so they can get the most out of this marketplace to enhance their value as marketers and travel counselors.”
The enhanced offerings for the corporate and leisure travel segments include programs that are targeted to create new revenue-generation opportunities from dynamic travel products, improve customer service through advanced customer data management, and streamline operations through new mid-office workflow automation capabilities. Also included are opportunities for travel agents to expand their knowledge base with new ways to gain insight on destinations or vendors.
“It’s not just about ensuring content,” said Kroeger. “It’s also about what we can do to help agents make maximum use of that content to their full advantage. We’ve had a team of people working to make sure connectivity to full content and protection from service fees is a given. But while this team was focused on content - what we see as the foundation of doing business in the travel industry - we have dedicated even more significant resources to developing entirely new ways to make the most of this content. The result is an incredibly dynamic way of doing business that benefits everyone - travel agencies, airlines, corporations, the GDS, and the ultimate customer—the travel consumer.”