Sabre enhances rail booking facility

Sabre Travel Network is a universal rail booking product, the Sabre Rail Platform, to enable the diverse range of rail companies around Europe to easily connect to all points of sale, regardless of their technology protocol, connectivity requirements and ways of doing business.
Senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network Martin Cowley said the Sabre Rail Platform would enhance the way rail is currently bought and sold by providing a universal platform that makes connecting to Sabre a simple and efficient process for rail companies everywhere.
“Rail operators around the world have individual technology platforms, connectivity requirements and booking protocols that each require a dedicated separate connection and specific agency training. This ultimately makes it difficult for travel agencies to promote and sell rail alongside air and car which all have one ‘universal booking platform’,” said Cowley.
“Sabre Rail Platform will resolve all these issues by providing what is essentially a single global marketplace for all rail suppliers, travel agencies, and travellers to come together to buy and sell rail products using a single universal currency or language. It’s like a universal plug adaptor for rail operators worldwide.
“Rail suppliers will be able to plug quickly and easily into the Sabre Rail Platform regardless of their technology protocol, and in turn provide a consistent interface to all of Sabre’s points of sale. At the same time, travel agencies will be able to search, book and manage all rail bookings in the same way they currently make air, hotel and car bookings through the GDS,” said Cowley.
“This new capability reflects our desire to deliver a service that meets the requirements of the entire industry by simplifying, speeding up and expanding the range of rail products available through the Sabre global distribution system (GDS), Travelocity’s online travel agency brands and the GetThere self-booking tool for corporate travel.
“We are determined that the GDS and other outlets for travel marketing, sales and distribution will continue to provide the widest range of bookable travel products, and rail is an exceedingly important part of this strategy - particularly in Europe where rail travel is growing exponentially,” Cowley said.
Development of the Sabre Rail Platform is already well under way.
UK travel agents have been able to book UK National Rail services through the GDS since October 2006 using Harry Weeks Travel’s Evolvi rail booking product. Sabre is now beta testing the integration of this product into the Sabre Rail Platform, which will be available to all UK travel agencies by the end of the year.
Sabre plans to integrate Deutsche Bahn and SNCF next year, followed by rail operators in Belgium, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and North America.
Grahame Weeks, managing director of Harry Weeks Travel, said that integrating Evolvi into the Sabre Rail Platform marked a significant milestone for the Evolvi product, which continues to be developed and enhanced to meet the changing needs of the UK rail marketplace.
“We are really excited about being part of what is a fundamental shift in the way travel agencies currently shop and book rail travel,” said Weeks.
Jolanta Mansour, operations director of UK travel agency Commodore, the UK beta customer for the integration of the UK rail system into the Sabre Rail Platform, said the product would make it easier and more attractive for travel agents to sell rail bookings.
“The Sabre Rail Platform is a revolutionary product that will change the way we currently sell and manage rail bookings. Not only will it simplify rail shopping and booking services by integrating rail segments alongside air, car and hotel in Sabre’s GDS, it will also allow us to offer travellers a fully integrated travel itinerary. I applaud Sabre’s vision and desire to deliver this much needed industry product,” said Mansour.
Cowley is confident that the Sabre Rail Platform will deliver what the industry wants, highlighting integration, process optimisation, simplification and support for multiple languages as key elements in the design of the product.
“This is a classic example of how we continue to innovate and invest in new technologies to evolve our business and help our customers diversify sales and revenue streams,” said Cowley.
The Sabre GDS will be the first Sabre business to plug into the system. GetThere, Travelocity’s online travel agency brands and other Sabre lines of business will follow.
Sabre Rail Platform is being developed at its European product development centre in Krakow, Poland.