Sabre Rolls Out Merchandising for Hotels, Airlines
by Michèle McDonald

Sabre Travel Network launched Custom Offers, a merchandising capability that is integrated into the travel marketing and shopping services on the Sabre GDS. The launch customer is Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

The new merchandising capabilities will give Sabre agents the ability to sell products previously unavailable to them.

Sabre’s Custom Offers is available to hotels and airlines, with “some slight differences,” Shelly Terry, vice president of supplier merchandising, said.

Hotels – targeted offers
For hotels, “we’ve developed an offer-management engine,” she said. “Hoteliers can enter criteria by which they want to target offers.” They can use traveler criteria, based on the traveler’s loyalty program number and value score derived from their CRM systems.

They also can base offers on shopping criteria – when and where the customer is traveling – or a combination of traveler and shopping criteria.

“If we find a match, they check their inventory,” Terry said.

For example, a hotel might decide to target customers who belong to a particular competitive set.

If a potential guest has previously booked rooms at any of three comparable competing hotels, the hotel might want to lure her with a special offer of free Wi-Fi, late checkout, a fourth night free, a spa treatment or even entry to a local attraction. The system does not identify the competing properties the customer had previously selected.

“The sky’s the limit,” Terry said. “The hotels determine their campaigns. We’re allowing them to leverage their portfolios of services.”

Airline ancillaries
On the airline side, Sabre is enabling offers for ancillary products – currently checked bags and seats. Airlines can customize ancillary prices and availability based on frequent flyer number and/or tier level.

“We’ve been able to ship frequent flyer numbers to airlines as part of a seat-booking process for years,” Terry said. “We continue to do that today, and we’ve also implemented an XML version.” Some carriers continue to sell premium seats via Edifact, she said.

Airlines offer premium seats in different ways, she noted.

US Airways, which distributes its Choice Seats through Sabre, does not differentiate its pricing based on a customer’s status. Other carriers, such as United and Delta, do.

Delta, for example, sells international Economy Comfort seats at 25% off for Silver Medallion customers and 50% off for Gold customers. The seats are free for Diamond and Platinum Medallion customers and any customers who purchase Y B and M fares.

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