Champion Teams with Sabre for Major Online Bookings Initiative

Champion Travel is to use its Internet site to launch a major online bookings offensive. The Hampton, Surrey-based travel group plans to challenge the dominance of the established Internet travel sites in the UK by selling 350 million of travel online annually, within five to 10 years.
(Above - Sabre account executive Sammie Mayne-Rocque with Minesh Patel,
chairman of Champion Travel.)

Champion Travel, which currently has an annual turnover of 10 million,  signed a deal with Sabre
last week to use the global distribution system`s Meridia.Res online booking engine to power its site.  It plans to sell a complete range of travel on
, and has already registered a second name, Directnights, through which to sell hotel accommodation online.
Chairman Minesh Patel said the Internet remained a rich source of business, and that many `traditional` travel agencies had virtually surrendered the online channel to companies like
and e-bookers
“Forty percent of all online expenditure goes on travel. it`s madness to write that business off” Patel said.  “The technology is now available to allow travel agents to compete in the online market, so why not?  (`s) Martha Lane Fox isn`t doing anything that I can`t”.


Patel spent six months researching the technology available to help him mount his assault on the online travel market. 


“There is an amazing array of online booking engines out there.  Sabre was able to offer the widest range of solutions and we went with the mid-range Meridia.Res because it`s fast and can accommodate negotiated fares.”

“The ability for travel agencies to offer negotiated fares on their websites is important”, Patel says, “because the established online travel sites have negotiated their own bulk discounts with the airlines.  Many `traditional` agents are under the impression that it is impossible to compete online with the established Internet travel sites because of the special rates they get from airlines.”
“The reality is that many travel agents already have negotiated rates that are close to, or the same as, the big online travel sites.  It`s simply a question of being able to sell these fares online as well.”
Related stories on ITN:

(02/04/2002) Sabre Selected as Technology Provider for Boomerang

(08/02/2002) First UK Customer Signs for Sabre`s Corporate.Res Booking Tool at BT2002

(21/01/2002) Sabre launches New Internet tool for travel agents