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Tech Takeoff: paving the way for truly traveler-centric airline retailing

In today's dynamic airline landscape, where competition is fierce, margins slim and consumer choice abundant, airlines must prioritize the end-to-end traveler experience to not only survive but thrive.

Short on time? Watch our 60-second video for key takeaways.

In today’s dynamic airline landscape, where competition is fierce, margins slim and consumer choice abundant, airlines must prioritize the end-to-end traveler experience to not only survive but thrive.

When Sabre set out to develop our strategy to enable industry transformation and greater traveler-centricity, we started by asking our airline partners what they needed to better meet the needs of travelers in a modern airline retailing world.

Listening to the needs of our airline partners both FSCs and LCCs our strategy became clear. that enables airlines to:

  • Provide more CHOICE for travelers resulting in diversified revenue
  • Apply INTELLIGENCE for greater relevance and conversion
  • Optimize the traveler experience by delivering greater EASE of service

These three principles that underpin our strategy choice, intelligence and ease emerged from our countless workshops, meetings and conversations with airline executives.

Choice

The ability to sell a broader range of products and services and to control where and how these offerings are retailed is fundamental to the way most airlines wish to conduct business in the future. An offer and order model will enable airlines to retail their full range of air products and services both directly and indirectly.

In the open retail environment that the industry is now entering, airlines have the ability to evolve beyond the traditional air + air ancillary product model and diversify the range of products and services they sell. This will create new revenue streams, while ensuring customers are presented with a broader range of choices.


Intelligence

Its undoubtedly a good thing that airlines will have the ability to offer more choices to travelers. But in a world where choice abounds, its critical to ensure that travel shoppers are not overwhelmed by options. The choices (offers) presented must be relevant, personalized and contextualized to successfully convert into orders. While optimization of individual products is available today, the near future lies in optimizing a multi-product bundle, thus offering competitively priced one-stop shopping for travelers.

For the most advanced capabilities in this space, Sabre looked to the intersection of science and technology more specifically Googles best-of-breed AI/ML and experimentation model. This class-defining technology algorithmically ensures that only the most intelligent offers are created and presented to consumers, reducing decision fatigue and optimizing the likelihood of turning an offer into revenue for the airline.

Bringing together Sabres deep industry expertise, with Google Clouds state-of-the-art AI technology and advanced machine learning capabilities, will enable airlines to take retailing and customer experiences to the next level.

Mike Reyes, SVP Product Management, Sabre

Advanced experimentation is one of the key differentiators of Sabres solution, and were using it to determine which intelligent retail offers to create and present to individual consumers to maximize the probability of conversion. We let science help answer retailers age-old questions what does the customer want and what is its value to the customer. Its one of the things that sets our solution apart and will help our airline partners achieve their retailing ambitions.


Ease

More complex offers and higher conversion bring the challenge of ensuring seamless order fulfillment at scale. is designed to ease this complexity. For airlines, greater workflow automation will improve efficiency by eliminating repetitive tasks and synchronizing orders as a master record.

Maintaining trip equilibrium, which means preserving offer and order integrity throughout the travel experience, is a strategic priority for Sabre. As the industry transition towards a retail-powered future accelerates, and more complex offers become the norm, we believe a focus on trip equilibrium will become increasingly important.

Sabre is also making things easier by providing an open test and learn capability (think of it as a sandbox) as an integral part of our solution. Were putting airlines in control by giving them access to APIs in a test environment where they can experiment whenever they choose before applying them in a live environment maximizing agility and accelerating speed to market.

Travelers will enjoy a streamlined experience, including greater control of their own experience through more self-service options, in addition to existing full-service helpdesk support. When travel plans change unexpectedly, travelers will be notified automatically, minimizing any inconvenience. Reaccommodation will be synched across all aspects of the trip, even at scale, with self-service capabilities available should the airline and/or traveler prefer.


Whether its sourcing the broadest choice of travel offers, applying intelligence to refine those down to exactly what each traveler is looking for, or delivering an easy experience for travelers and travel providers, Sabre is building the right for the job. Weve worked closely with industry bodies and our airline partners to build a suite of products tailored to the needs of our customers in an open, retail-powered future.

Learn more about Sabres strategy and transition pathway to modern airline retailing.

About the Author 

Andrew Thorpe is part of the Sabre team exploring what the future of travel will look like and how airlines can succeed with offer- and order-enabled retailing.