Sabre solidifying its ME presence


Sabre is the most represented GDS in the MENA region, operating in 11 countries with its headquarters in Bahrain. TTN’s SHALU CHANDRAN spoke to Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre Travel Network Middle East

How important is the Middle East market?
The Middle East is probably one of the more important regions for Sabre today because of the way it is growing and developing and transforming in front of our eyes.
Sabre today is in a much stronger position in this part of the world, than it has ever been. The GDS was practically born with Sabre and we are bringing in all our experiences, all our technology and our know-how.
Two major recent announcements that we are very proud of is the exclusive re-signing with Bahwan Travel, one of the biggest agency in Oman. Our signing with Alshamel, another power house in the region, also recognises Sabre’s excellence as a provider of global distribution systems for the travel industry.
This is the first time that Alshamel has opted for exclusivity in its global distribution systems. We are working with airline companies, and have signed an expanded service agreement with Oman Air. Emirates is the launch partner for Sabre’s new automated limousine reservation service, and is now available to all Sabre connected travel agencies around the world.
So, we are banking on our experience, solidifying our presence and expanding on a day to day basis.

How aware are travel agents about GDS technologies and their benefits?
Agents in this part of the world are the most educated, the most savvy and ambitious, because they have to be. This is a time right now, where the environment is getting more and more competitive and it is the survival of the fittest. They are very aware of the market and the competitive environment and are out to get the best.

Are there plans for new products and services in the pipeline?
We are constantly improving and updating our products to suit the region we are in. So, a product that we are using in Europe might not necessarily fit the way it is working in this region or in the United States. We do tailor it according to the need of that agent.
The region needs today a tool that is easy to use, that allows the agent a one-stop type of environment. We strongly believe that the GDS is the most cost effective way for agents to support their customers.

Are there plans to expand into new markets?
We are consistently looking at new markets. We are also looking for opportunities where we believe we can go in and get business from. A small example is that we are continuously expanding in the UAE and we have added more power in the last two years. In Saudi Arabia, we will have four new offices by the end of this year. We are expanding in the Levant as well.