Sabre Travel Network has launched its brand in sub-Saharan Africa when the company signed a marketing agreement with Interguide Air Limited, a Nigerian travel agency.The deal will see the Sabre GDS being marketed to more than 800 travel agencies across the country.
An office in Lagos will be opened officially this evening (UK and Nigerian time - 2 May 2007), but has been operating since January and has proved successful with 67 agencies contracting to use the Sabre system. This represents 10 percent of the IATA-accredited agencies in the country, and includes three of its six leading multiples.
Sabre Nigeria comprises sales, marketing, technical, financial and administrative staff. It is run by Gabriel Olowo, Interguide’s chairman. He plans to shift 25 percent of Nigeria’s travel bookings onto the Sabre system by the end of 2007.
Sabre Nigeria is moving its new customers onto the Internet-based MySabre booking platform, using high-speed broadband Internet connections.
“We are coming into the market with efficiency and productivity technology that is streets ahead of what the other three GDSs offer,” Olowo said. “We’re planning to bring the Nigerian travel industry into the 21st century - agencies here have languished under sub-standard technology and a limited range of bookable travel products for far too long.”
Dean Bibb, Sabre Travel Network’s vice-president for the Middle East and Africa, said the company was evaluating other business opportunities in Africa.
“An ever-increasing amount of travel is being booked in countries right across the continent. The time is right for us to be expanding our presence beyond Europe and the Middle East, into the heart of this increasingly significant travel market.”
Sabre Travel Network sister company, Sabre Airline Solutions, has been working in Nigeria for some years. In 2000 and 2001 its consulting business helped the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority earn ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) ‘Category 1’ (highest safety level) status. Today it is in discussion with several of the country’s airlines with a view to providing them with decision-support and operational technology, as well as consultancy services.