Wednesday 27 September 2023

Andy Finkelstein at ATM

Intelligent retailing way forward in travel: Sabre expert

DUBAI, May 11, 2023

By Sree Bhat
Unlocking exceptional customer experiences is crucial for success in any industry, especially so in the dynamic world of travel. According to an expert from Sabre, the key to achieving this is by embracing innovative technologies that promote seamless collaboration and integration across the industry, resulting in unforgettable journeys for travellers.
“When we look at customer experiences in other industries, we see that they have done a better job at understanding customer expectations and delivering on them. There is a huge opportunity for the travel industry to offer intelligent retailing experiences for consumers, using technology,” says Andy Finkelstein, SVP, Global Agency Sales & Delivery, Sabre.
Finkelstein spoke about intelligent retailing and travel trends shaping travel at a panel discussion titled ‘The Main Trends Impacting Travel in 2023 and Beyond’ at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023 in Dubai, recently.
Speaking to TTN prior to the session, he said: “We feel that Sabre can lead the market of personalised travel by working across suppliers such as airlines, hoteliers, car rental companies, and the buyer community, including travel agencies, whether it's an Online Travel Agency (OTA) or Travel Management Company (TMC) , or corporations, all for the consumer's benefit. With our solutions and technology, we aim to work together across the travel ecosystem to enable a better outcome for the consumer.
“Collaboration is crucial for the industry, and being a part of the travel tech theatre allows us to share the stage with our partners, talk about insights and trends, and collaborate to move the industry forward. These last three days at the ATM have been phenomenal in terms of engagement with customers and prospects,” he said.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is intelligent retailing?
Intelligent retailing is about knowing your customer and presenting them with a curated set of offers that are targeted to them. It involves understanding the context of their journey, including their trip history, preferences, loyalty programmes, and what they are trying to accomplish. Intelligent retailing simplifies the booking process by presenting a limited number of options that are easy to understand. Additionally, it offers suggestions for things to do during the trip, such as booking a show or dinner reservation. The goal is to enhance the traveller's experience and allow suppliers to offer travel and experiences that meet the needs of their customers. As a traveller, you get a curated set of offers that you feel are prepared for you and you have the confidence that they are the best value.
The next key component is a simple booking process. Take the example of Apple - when you browse their products, there are only a few options to choose from, making it easy to understand and efficiently book your purchase. 
Another important aspect is how we can enhance your trip experience while you're in your destination. For instance, if you're in New York City, how can I offer you additional retail opportunities such as show tickets or dinner reservations at specific locations? These extras can elevate your experience and allow travel suppliers to market to you in-destination. These enhancements aren't just limited to leisure travel, they can also be applied to corporate travel experiences.
How do you think the industry can collaborate to improve the travel experience?
Delivering what the industry is talking about and what travellers are seeking -- personalised experiences! One of the challenges with travel is that there are multiple parties involved in delivering an experience, apart from the supplier who ultimately handles the operation or fulfillment. If you're booking a trip, whether corporate or leisure, the experience spans from the time of inspiration when you're shopping, through to the booking process, then to the fulfillment of actually consuming that component, and until you return home -- all of that is impacting the total travel experience, not least of which are the destination activities. So, how we work across those things to provide the traveller a seamless experience is essential.
I think the suppliers are working to improve their products, but there are ways in which the industry can collaborate across different areas. For example, if there's a trip disruption with an airline, how does a hotelier come to know about that and make accommodation for a late arrival? Or maybe you're getting in late at night and haven't had dinner, and they could arrange a meal for you? There are ways in which we can look across the industry and say how we should share data or think about that end-to-end traveller journey.
What are the challenges in implementing new technologies in the travel industry? How can Sabre help?
In contrast to other retail experiences, where a consumer goods company may own the end-to-end delivery of a product, the travel industry is a much more complex and fragmented ecosystem that relies on multiple parties. Collaboration among all of these parties is crucial, and as a technology provider, we play a key role in facilitating that collaboration. However, there are implications for technologies, operations processes, and other things within the tech stacks and in-house systems of these ecosystem providers.
Ultimately, collaboration is key, and we are passionate about helping to facilitate it. We put the traveller in the middle of everything we do and work towards the end goal by understanding what the suppliers are trying to accomplish, the implications for our agency partners and corporations, and what the end state and goal are that we are all trying to achieve.
Can you tell us more about the importance of being here at ATM and Sabre's growth ambitions in the Middle East region?
Being here at ATM is really important for us. This is a fast-growing market and one of our key growth areas. We've been in this market for a long time and we see a lot of investment and growth ambitions here. We are working with our customers and partners to help with their digital transformation and stay ahead of the technological evolution.
What changes do you think we'll see in the industry in the next five years with the evolution of technology?
Five years is a long time span to predict, but we are seeing the pace of change accelerate rapidly with things like artificial intelligence. I think we'll start to see an evolution in search as a result of tools like ChatGPT. We're already embedding artificial intelligence into a number of our products, which allows us to better know our customers and serve them with relevant offers to make their journey more seamless.
How is Sabre helping the industry evolve more sustainably?
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important, and we believe that sustainable and responsible brands will succeed in the future. One way we're helping is by making the right information available to buyers and travellers. We run a marketplace business, and it's about providing choices. There are different preferences on how buyers want to think about sustainability, and we want to allow customer choice to take place and bring that to our point of sale or through our APIs in ways that will inform the traveler and allow them to make educated decisions.  – TradeArabia News Service


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