Amadeus cops $100M agency`s Sabre account

After using Sabre for more than two decades, Balboa Travel, an agency with annual air sales totaling $100 million, selected Amadeus as its primary CRS, signing a five-year contract.

According to Tom Cates, Amadeus` vice president of sales for North America, Balboa is the largest U.S. corporate agency to convert to Amadeus.

He called the deal “a real feather in our cap moving forward, especially on the corporate side.”

Converting a $100 million agency to a new primary CRS is not a decision to be taken lightly, so Balboa did its homework and shopped around.

Denise Jackson, Balboa`s vice president of corporate travel, said, “Much to our surprise, we were pleased to see what else was out there.”


Balboa rated the technology of all four CRS vendors and decided that Amadeus had superior technology.

“Sabre rated the lowest, which shocked everyone,” Jackson said.

Price also was a factor, and Jackson said Amadeus was “quite competitive and extremely aggressive.”

However, Balboa`s primary objective was choosing technology that most consistently finds the lowest fare and decreases the amount of time it takes for an agent to finish a passenger name record (PNR).

Amadeus best supplied those tools, Jackson said. Of all the low-fare search engines on the market, Amadeus` Value Pricer rated the best.

“Giving corporate customers the lowest fares is one of our top priorities. Customers want lowest fares every day of the week,” Jackson said. “We randomly selected PNRs and tested several competing low-fare search engines, and Value Pricer consistently came out on top.”

Also, Amadeus technology enables the agent to confirm last-seat availability immediately once the agent chooses the seat, Jackson said, whereas not all CRS companies offer this feature.

Amadeus` automatic pricing function for international trips rated highest, according to Jackson, who said Amadeus` tool could calculate the price for trips containing up to 16 segments.

Jackson said a significant number of clients book trips with that many stopovers, and without Amadeus` automatic pricing capability, the agent would have to spend more time calculating fares.

Amadeus and Galileo had top-level script programs, technology that enables agents to finish PNRs with fewer keystrokes, Jackson said.

When the comparison of CRS technology was completed, Balboa found that Sabre`s best attribute was the ability to book Southwest Airlines in the CRS