DANIEL NAOUMOVITCH, CEO of Bahrain-based Sabre Travel Network Middle East (STNME) talks to TTN about the latest innovations and keeping ahead of the game.
What markets will Sabre be focusing on in the future for strategic growth?
While STNME is focused on the region as a whole, we feel there is tremendous potential for future growth in Oman, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Sabre has key alliances across Egypt and supports travel agents from Cairo, Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh. We recently invested in a new office in the prestigious business-friendly Maadi district which features a state-of-the-art training facility for regularly-held training programmes.
Sabre Saudi Arabia has the largest support structure within the kingdom, which now totals nine established offices with training centres reflecting Sabre’s commitment to focusing on our travel partners’ service levels as our core focus.
Why do agents across the Middle East choose Sabre over other providers?
Sabre’s primary strength is our local presence in all Middle Eastern markets. Headquartered in Bahrain, STNME today has 21 offices in 10 counties in the Mena and Levant region. With four offices in Saudi Arabia and two in Egypt, Yemen and Oman each, we are by far the most represented GDS in the region.
Combine this with our innovation, state-of-the-art products and solutions that have been tried and tested on a global scale, you get a company that is able to deliver on exactly what the travel agent, our customer, needs on the ground.
Our other value-added services such as 24/7 help desk and higher than average Arabic speaking staff, product training courses and modules catering specifically to the Arabic speaker and our excellent customer service, have helped us maintain relationships and sign up new travel partners frequently.
What products and services have you rolled out recently and what benefits do they offer Middle East agents?
Our latest innovative total travel solution that has been designed to help travel agencies drive customer loyalty and power business performance, resulting in increased revenues, improved efficiency and reduced costs is Sabre Red. It features a portfolio of new capabilities that span the entire spectrum of an agency’s business from shopping and booking travel, to serving customers throughout their trip, to using business intelligence for insight and continuous improvement.
Using Sabre Red, agencies will be able to respond nimbly to the emergence of airline ancillary fees and other merchandising initiatives, the growth in demand for mobile services, changes in preferred supplier agreements, the challenge of finding agents with GDS format knowledge and ultimately to meet the needs of more informed and demanding travellers.
A key capability of the product is that a travel agency can save its customers an average of 20 per cent or more per ticket with the best-low-fare search capabilities.
What GDS trends have you noticed this year and how is Sabre keeping on top of things?
Sabre is the first GDS to announce attribute-based-shopping, a new tool allowing agencies to comparison shop by ‘airline attribute’ (eg baggage fees and seat selection), giving the traveller a total price for their fare.
The use of mobile in travel is also a rising trend. Sabre offers a range of mobile solutions including VirtuallyThere Mobile, giving travellers access to their itinerary on their mobile, and TripCase, a mobile application available on the Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices, which provides travellers with itinerary details, updates and notifications throughout the duration of their trip.
How will Sabre stay relevant in a rapidly-changing market where advances in technology are being made all the time?
Sabre invests significantly in research and development to create innovative new products that help agencies and travel suppliers make money, save money and provide better customer service. We are consistently the first to launch new solutions such as our new airline ancillary services. Sabre is the only GDS to support these airline bundling and unbundling activities in the GDS, providing agencies the ability to shop and book new airline ancillary services like pay-for seats (United Airlines, WestJet etc) and branded fares for Qantas.
In developing Sabre Red, we considered how to provide our agency customers with a solution that would help them succeed in today’s highly competitive market.
The Red Workspace is built on a future-ready, open platform – the same used by NASA to command its Mars Rover mission – which provides faster start up times, greater stability, high performance worldwide, superior application integration capability and administrative controls to manage user level configuration and up dates.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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