Sabre is urging travel agents to play a wider role in the travel process. Speaking today (Monday 18 March 2002) at the ITB travel show in Berlin, Sabre group president Eric Speck said it was no longer enough for travel agents simply to sell, confirm and ticket travel.
They also needed to stimulate demand through effective customer relationship marketing, and get more involved in the embarkation and post-travel stages of the process.
Speck said these were the areas where travel agents could add value and expertise, thereby differentiating themselves from supplier-direct sales channels. A good understanding, and effective use, of travel technology was essential if agents were to succeed in differentiating their services, adding more value to their function and taking greater control of their destiny.
He said Sabre`s role in this evolution was to develop tools to help its customers create business, not just capture it. In the case of agencies, these included customer relationship marketing (CRM) tools, revenue management products and developments like the Sabre Virtually There personal travel management tool.
“Increasingly we see ourselves as not just a distributor of travel, but as a travel marketing partner too” he said.
But it`s not just travel agencies who will benefit from this evolution in the traditional role of the GDS. Speck emphasised that
was developing travel-marketing products for all its customer groups, including travel providers and the end traveller.
“The key is to understand the needs and opportunities surrounding the traveller. Our focus is to help suppliers and resellers sell more of their products and services and to provide an enhanced end-to-end experience for the traveller.”
Speck said partnerships would play an important role in future industry growth.
“Partners have always been important to Sabre, but never before have they been so important in terms of speed to market, and long-term growth in revenues and earnings.”
He said technological convergence would be crucial to industry development over the next decade, and identified two aspects as being particularly important -telematics and biometrics. Telematics is the convergence of telecommunications and computers, while biometrics combines personal identification with technology.
“This is just one example of technological direction, and why effective alliances and partnerships are vital”, Speck said.
Related stories on ITN:
(21/01/2002) Sabre launches New Internet tool for travel agents
(05/11/2001) Sabre Announce Further Plans To Help Agencies.
(31/10/2001) New Tool Launched by Sabre Enabling Agents to Sell Multi-Continent Air Travel