After A Decade Away, Former Sabre CEO Jeff Katz Is Back In Travel Tech

by Cheryl Rosen
After A Decade Away, Former Sabre CEO Jeff Katz Is Back In Travel Tech


After a decade away, Jeff Katz—the erstwhile CEO of Sabre, Travelocity and Orbitz—turned up in a new role at ASTA’s Global Conference in Reno.

As a senior executive at American Airlines, and then as head of the biggest GDS and the first online travel agency, Katz was a fixture at travel-industry events in the 1990s and 2000s. Katz currently is the CEO and managing partner of KA Holdings, an investment firm in travel, technology and environmental businesses. Last week he made a 10-minute appearance at an ASTA press conference before being whisked behind closed doors to address ASTA’s Premium Members.

In a brief presentation with little fanfare, Katz introduced his newest tech venture, on which he is partnering with the Boston Consulting Group, with funding from American and United Airlines, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Marriott International. It is an “experience management platform,” a new architecture for the travel industry whose core element will be the Global Experience Record, or GXR.

“The objective is to reshape the traveler experience through the innovative use of data incorporating travel provider data across travel verticals, making the travel experience more seamless across airlines, hotels, ground transportation, restaurants and entertainment," said the description in the ASTA program.

Katz stepped up from American Airlines to head the industry-leading Sabre GDS, launching Travelocity and then spinning it off from Sabre, then going on to head Swissair, Orbitz and LeapFrog, the producer of educational technology products for children.

Today, Katz said, “the new currency is data,” and the system he is building will “help manage this currency in an open-source approach that will help people aggregate information. I think it will lead to better travel experiences over time and a new kind of inventory that's focused on the travel experience rather than how I book or how I search.”

Pushed for a concrete example, Katz suggested that if a traveler’s flight is delayed, the system could automatically advise his Uber driver and the Marriott to which he is headed of the delay.

So is it be a product for travel agencies? “Anybody can participate in its use,” Katz said. “It's an open system.”

In the end, it will allow agencies to “focus more on customer support and support and planning and creating experiences for clients."

  3
  0
Tip of the Day
The suppliers I can tell appreciate the patience and kindness as well, as we have all been working very hard to manage the influx of work. I see the travel agent community and the suppliers working in harmony.

Emily Rawlins, Merriway Travel
Daily Top List

Top Three Travel Destinations For Fall

1. Havana, Cuba

2. Lisbon, Portugal

3. Madrid, Spain

Source: Elite Daily

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Suppliers Earn High Marks From Travel Agents Post Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
Suppliers Earn High Marks From Travel Agents Post Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

So far, hotels, tour companies and airlines are getting kudos from agents as they rebuild client itineraries and try to obtain refunds.

Booking Flights Direct Doesn’t Delight Passengers, Study Finds
Booking Flights Direct Doesn’t Delight Passengers, Study Finds

New study finds that booking direct flights through airline websites made passengers less than happy.

CoNexion 2017 Takes Aim at Growing Travel Agent Businesses
CoNexion 2017 Takes Aim at Growing Travel Agent Businesses

From breaking into the luxury cruise market to marketing business, there were tips for virtually every kind of agent, big or small, home-based or brick-and-mortar.

Travel Agents Can Now Book Guided Tours Through VAX VacationAccess
Travel Agents Can Now Book Guided Tours Through VAX VacationAccess

Cruising really took off when travel agents could book itineraries electronically, say partners Trisept and Adventurelink. Now guided tours have the same option.

Headquarter Happenings: Virtuoso’s Growth Reflects Travel Agents’ Robust Health
Headquarter Happenings: Virtuoso’s Growth Reflects Travel Agents’ Robust Health

At this year’s annual gathering of the luxury agency network, Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch told agents “you’re the hottest new thing that never went away.”

OTA Customers Again Left Stranded When Mother Nature Throws a Curveball
OTA Customers Again Left Stranded When Mother Nature Throws a Curveball

Chaos caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma shows once again just how valuable travel agents are in a crisis.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Imagine Bliss