Sabre continues it`s strong focus on the European marketplace with the announcement of details of its collaboration with Karavel.com, a new European online travel site.
Sabre is Karavel`s technology partner and a minority investor. Karavel.com is the latest entrant to the European online travel market, differentiating itself with a unique suggestion-based search engine and a facility for publishing personalised travel guides. Sabre`s investment gives it a non-voting seat on the board, which is chaired by Blanc, who is also President of Merrill Lynch France and the former CEO of Air France. Other shareholders include general manager Alain de Mendonca; Claude Blanc, former general manager of Rosenbluth International in the region; and Societe Generale.
Christian Blanc said Karavel.com anticipated a turnover of EUR18.3 million (US$15.6 million) in its first year. He said 70% of its revenue was expected to come from travel sales, 20% from the sale of technology and editorial content, and 10% from advertising and sales of the personalised travel guide.
The cornerstone of Sabre`s technology offering to Karavel is the Sabre Optima.Res Internet booking engine which powers Karavel.com. Optima.Res is the high-end of the Sabre .Res suite of products, designed to let traditional agencies enter the fast-growing online travel distribution market. Earlier this year PhoCusWright, a leading Internet travel intelligence company, valued the European online travel market at EUR12.74 billion (US$10.9 billion) by 2002.
Features available through Optima.Res include WAP connectivity to the Sabre system, which enables travellers to access travel information via special handheld devices; CRM Tools, which allow suppliers to offer customers special promotions tailored to their travel preferences; and Click-to-Chat Messaging Features, which let online shoppers start an interactive “chat” session to create a reservation.