Sabre's new agency desktop, unveiled this morning, enables travel agents to shop by total price, including fees for checked bags and premium seats, and its arrival sends this message to airlines -- we can handle ancillary services, so bring them on.
Brian Houser, vice president of customer marketing for Sabre Travel Network, says the Sabre Red Workspace, the name of the new desktop, will be able to handle airlines' ancillary services once carriers begin to file them with ATPCO, a development slated to begin in the Fall or Winter.
In response to a question during a webinar about the new desktop, Houser said Sabre will handle the issue on a case by case basis if some carriers opt out of filing their ancillary services with ATPCO.
Carriers' adoption of filing their ancillary services through ATPCO would be a game-changer.
It remains to be seen how many and which airlines will do so, and which ones will choose to merchandise through their own and preferred channels.
Houser noted that even in advance of merchandising standards, Sabre has worked with United Airlines, WestJet and Midwest Airlines to offer ancillary services through the Sabre GDS and will soon announce another merchandising agreement with a large airline.
Also on the merchandising front, the Sabre desktop, in a second phase, would enable travelers using TripCase, Sabre's mobile platform, to pay for a premium seat or bag fee in self-service mode after the booking.
Red Workspace also features a mobile traveler messaging service, enabling agencies to use an automated service to send messages to travelers before, during and after the trip.
Houser said Sabre plans to retire the MySabre desktop in 2011, after transitioning the majority of its travel agency customers to the global Red Workspace desktop by the end of 2010.
Red Workspace eventually will enable travel agencies to incorporate their own apps, will have optional graphical user interfaces for air and hotel shopping and merchandising, and will enable agencies to use a GDS emulator supporting Amadeus, Galileo and Worldspan -- if the agency has an agreement with the other GDSs and obtains their permission to use them through Sabre.
Sabre's community platform for agencies, AgentStream, will be integrated into the new desktop, and access for new users will be widened, Houser said.
Sabre says 250 of its global customers are currently beta testing the new desktop.