Sabre has started offering its hotel customers a new distribution capability that allows them to offer customisable deals through third parties.
The GDS and technology supplier said its Custom Offers will enable accommodation provider to better manage, target and personalise its campaigns.
Custom Offers which open up the possibility of merchandising a range of add-ons and ancillaries which will, where applicable, appear in the agents’ workflow alongside regular results.
The system has been developed with launch partner Starwood Hotels and is also available to airlines to enhance their ancillary product offering.
Shelly Terry, Sabre Travel Network’s vice-president, supplier merchandising, said:
“One of the great things about Custom Offers is they are integrated right into the agents’ shopping and booking process without any new technology to implement.
“For hotels what we have enabled is a campaign management system where hotels are able to enter the criteria for a Custom Offer in a campaign.
“It could be based on travel criteria and or shopping criteria or from a travel perspective it could be a frequent guest programme.
“Campaigns could be based on a particularly city or property indicating an allocation of special rate types that they [agent/customer] are looking for.
“These campaigns would be matched through our offer management engine. We send shopping requests to the hotel and indicate we have matched a campaign based on its inventory.
“Hotels can input a range of offers from discounted room nights to WiFi, spa treatments they pretty much have the ability to custom offer everything they want.
“The beauty of the product is it’s in the supplier’ control because on their own marketing and merchandising objectives which will determine what kind of offers they make in order to drive certain sales.”
Terry said the move to more personalised offers like this is “the next step in evolving merchandising through the Sabre market place.”
“Custom Offers meets the needs of both suppliers and sellers to differentiate their products and services.
“They want deeper, more personalised relationships with customers. There is a desire for that on the buyer side as well. They want efficiency but be able to continue to comparison shop, book and manage travel.”
Sabre’s launch comes amid increasing moves by all three GDSs to offer more flexible merchandising platform for suppliers.
With sales through travel agencies under constant threat from suppliers going direct, the latest GDS technology is being developed to give third parties the flexibility of selling online.
Information available through loyalty programmes or corporate profiles will be combined with Sabre shopping data to make the offers applicable and relevant.
Custom Offers can be used by online travel agents, but the degree to which offers will be individually personalised will depend on the amount of customer information they have.
Terry said OTAs could use the lure of custom offers to get their customers to provide them with more personal information rather than shopping anonymously.
“If I want a custom offer, I might be more willing to provide certain information,” she said.
Jill Melton, Sabre hotel product marketing group manager, said for hoteliers Custom Offers is easily set up.
“We are dealing with the existing communication method between suppliers and it’s a very quick lead-in time to market.
“The hotel or suppliers does have to make minor modifications to their systems but they can be up and running within a month or so.”
This means that the offers can be transmitted through more modern XML connections or the more traditional GDS ATPCO/EDIFACT process.
“Customer Offers is independent of the hotelier’s or airline’s underlying technology between supplier and Sabre so you can offer it across a multitude of technologies and provide maximum choice for the supplier,” said Terry.
Sabre will also be able to report back to suppliers on the effectiveness of their Custom Offers in terms of conversion and ROI.
Terry said because the Custom Offers will appear alongside regular results, highlighted by a symbol, they can be easily compared
Sabre Custom Offers is available to travel agents using the Sabre Red Workspace and through Sabre Web Services for integration with online travel sites and corporate booking tools.