Sabre aims to break down walls as it "reimagines" business of travel

Sabre president and CEO Sean Menke has a bold and new vision for how tech will reimagine the business of travel.

Which may seem obvious – Sabre is, after all, a travel technology company – but the tech-enabled world Menke, who has been at the helm of the company under a year and a half, envisions is one in which all core areas of his business are united.

Menke was speaking at the Sabre Technology Exchange this week in Dallas, U.S. – an event, he says, that is emblematic of the idea of unity at the company: for the first time, Sabre convened all of its business units at one conference as opposed to separate ones for airlines, hotels, etc.

By breaking down the silos dividing business units – and by as Menke says “reimagining the business of travel through retailing, distribution and fulfillment” – the entire travel ecosystem can become more seamless, thus providing more options to and meeting more demands of travelers.

As an example, Menke says integrating technology among units would allow for airlines, hotels and ground transportation providers to communicate about disruptions such as if a traveler’s flight – and subsequent reservations – gets canceled.

“These are the ways we have to be thinking about these things as it relates to disruption. This is what our customers are demanding at the end,” he says.

“There is enormous potential for technology platforms that enable all these fragmented pieces to come together. We spend an enormous amount of time focused on this, and why we look at it as one Sabre.”

He also points to how Sabre can leverage the massive amounts of data it has at its disposal to impact the traveler journey from all angles. For one, Sabre can capture, aggregate and normalize rich data, then use that data to create unique offers. From there, offers can be targeted at the right time and as necessary.

“The fulfillment side of the equation is getting more complicated, but if you’re able to collect that data, and if you start refining it” throughout the journey, “you hone in on personas and recycle it back to the top of the funnel to the beginning to create offers.”

Generation reborn

Menke says opportunities around “next-gen retailing,” mobile, enriched data and analytics and adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain are areas of growth for Sabre.

Approaching where the company goes next horizontally and by “how they connect and are linked .. can create a lot of value.”

The approach Menke is “reimagining” points toward a Sabre that sets its sights outwards rather than inwards. The tech powering the products themselves is being rethought – to that end the company has hired two C-level executives, CTO Vish Saoji and CIO Joe DiFonzo.

Where it goes next also arrives as the company has come around on its position on NDC – which Sabre has admitted it needs to get behind after its initial dismissal.

“Sabre is in a unique position to understand the demands and understand the complexity [of travel] and we’re focused on understanding the future,” Menke says. “[We think about] how we are putting tech in front of you to allow you to be successful.”

* This reporter’s attendance at the event was supported by Sabre.

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