December 1, 2011
We read with interest the November 29 article in The Beat
where [Sabre Travel Network president] Greg Webb stated, "Corporations and agencies have told me it's a must-have to be able to display all content from all carriers flying a certain route in an easily understandable way." He continued, "I can't show Air Canada one way, WestJet another way and United a third way because it becomes an unusable user experience."
With all due respect, if it was ever true that it was an unusable user experience it is certainly no longer the case. [more] In fact, it has not been the case for quite some time now. As you may recall, Farelogix deployed a travel agency desktop platform in the Canadian market more than four years ago (which is still in use today) that does exactly what you say Sabre is unable to do. This agency desktop platform, on one screen and clearly "usable" by the travel agents, even has the Sabre GDS fully and transparently integrated. So a travel agency "usable" platform that meets the needs of both agencies and airlines is not only a reality, but has been for some time.
At Farelogix, we believe that real transparency means displaying fares and ancillary service information in a way that is both convenient for agents/consumers, and supportive of how each airline wants to showcase its products and services. Meeting these challenges--and ensuring all required information is transparently displayed--is why we have continued to invest in a modern and flexible travel agency desktop solution, SPRK. After all, if one airline has only one available fare, but another has five, do you only show one of each? Of course not. That would be uniformity, not transparency. As much as we as an industry may like uniformity and status quo, that mentality continues to do a huge disservice to agencies, consumers, airlines, and overall competition.
Albeit clearly self-serving, I have taken the liberty of including (below) a sample SPRK screen shot from our test system that clearly shows how we do what you (Sabre) say you cannot. Sure, it's hard to figure this stuff out, but it can be done and done well. Now, I am not saying that the SPRK product is for everyone, nor that it has everything any agency would need--I would not be so presumptuous. However, since SPRK and, more importantly, its free open source sibling, Hawkeye, are designed and engineered with a modern and flexible graphical user interface development approach, anyone (yes, even Sabre) is free to use it to create their optimal platform.
Hey, I have a suggestion. Now I know that we have had our differences over the years, but maybe it's time to "bury the hatchet" and work together to create a truly "agency usable" platform. Since Hawkeye is open source and the SPRK platform is free to anyone, it won't even cost you a license fee. You could even hire us to do any new development work on this new platform and still take all the credit. Heck, you can even brand it Sabre and call it any color you want--red, green, yellow, blue, whatever!
What do you say? You know where to find us.