Sabre has launched the Sabre Red App Centre to much verbal fanfare.
Conjuring images of the Apple App Store, Sabre pronounces that "the Sabre Red App Centre is the first online marketplace to connect travel buyers, including travel agencies, travel management companies and leisure operators, with application providers from around the world."
And, Sabre duly notes that there are "more than 60 Red Apps currently in the marketplace, with that number expected to grow significantly in the coming months."
Well, about 70 Red Apps are currently available, and all but one of them were developed -- not by third-party application developers from around the world -- but by Sabre Travel Network.
And, some of the almost 70 apps in the centre were previously around in the form of travel agent scripts and turned into Red Apps for deeper integration into the Sabre Red Workspace, says Sabre spokesperson Heidi Castle.
The Sabre Travel Network-developed apps range from Event Finder and Sabre Vacations Latin America to Hotel Corp and Agency Rates Script and Low Fare Search, to name a few.
Sabre obviously decided to debut its app centre, populated almost entirely by Sabre Travel Network-developed apps, to showcase the idea to independent developers.
"Launching with mostly Sabre apps gives us the chance to educate app providers -- especially those not familiar with the B2B world of the travel industry -- about the kinds of tools that travel buyers need," Castle says. "We definitely want to attract new app providers to the travel industry and this helps us do that."
Asked whether there were any roadblocks to getting more outside developers to participate, Castle says, there were "no roadblocks."
"The technology part is easy and most developers were up to speed quickly," Castle adds. "The developers have been waiting for the Centre to open so they can add their apps. In the last few days, we have had requests or proposals from five new developers."
The exception to the rule in the Sabre-only app blitz at launch is the free QBotic Queue Filter app from Travel Automation Management Co. of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The app enables travel agents to filter which PNRs they want to work on in queues based on carrier code, service date and other attributes.
Dale Weston, senior vice president at Travel Automation, says his company has a two-decade-old developer relationship with Sabre.
“We think it is hard to reach that little, sliver, segment of the public," namely travel agents, through traditional marketing channels, Weston says.
So when the company heard about the creation of the Sabre Red App Centre, "we jumped on it,” Weston says.
Travel Automation Management Co. won't make any money off the free QBotic Queue Filter app, which Weston describes as "not rocket science," but adds that the upcoming QBotic Pro is "the crown jewel."
The QBotic Pro is designed to automatically reissue tickets when airlines unilaterally make changes, Weston says.
He says the company will charge agencies 20% to 25% of their expected savings from automating the ticket reissues, and then will share revenue with Sabre.
Weston sees value in the Sabre Red App Centre because it "gets products out there and in front of the market" and "facilitates distribution."
Sabre hopes other developers will similarly understand the premise and advantages of the app centre.
Says Castle: "We’re confident that developers will see the value and stocking the shelves is priority number one now that the Centre is launched."
But, for now, the QBotic Queue Filter is a one-of-a-kind sort of thing.