Posted: July 5, 2017 by Kelly Happ
Sabre hosted its annual Travel Technology Exchange, or TTX, last week in hotter than usual Las Vegas. With a record 1200+ attendees, even the triple digit temperatures couldn’t compete with the cool technology showcased at this multi-day networking event, designed to educate, engage and entice travel professionals across the industry. This multi-layered conference combined learning through workshops, demos and executive keynotes with “the Exchange” tradeshow providing the networking and introduction of new tools and technology. Like all shows, there is more to see than time to see it, but there was definitely “technology in the air” and it was exhilarating to see innovation and leadership in action – not only from Sabre, but from industry partners and leaders alike.
The unofficial kick off took place in the form of the annual Hackathon, a gathering of “the brightest” coming together to create a travel solution in 24 hours, based on a strict list of guidelines and available tools. It’s travel tech’s version of “Chopped” with platform on the list of ingredients instead of chocolate! The ‘Hack’ as it’s fondly called, is sponsored in part by companies like Microsoft and DataArt, providing a truly multi-industry collaboration and a ‘candy store-like’ environment for developer geeks to go wild!
The common theme at this year’s gathering was all about change — change in the form of innovation, advancement and enhancement to meet the demands of a changing world and industry. From president, Sean Menke’s, opening address, to the more intimate executive roundtables, for Sabre this clearly means developing towards a more open platform to accommodate customized and personalized solutions, through APIs, as well as capitalizing on the massive data collection to open up greater revenue opportunities through personalized shopping experiences. “The GDS is the enabler to drive innovation”, said Menke. “And we’re only at the doorstep of the opportunity.” Menke encouraged agents to “engage in the conversation and partner to create the future together not just enter it.”
One couldn’t help but see the irony in the positioning message of an open platform, considering obvious competition with NDC (New Distribution Capability by IATA), and the recent announcement from industry giant, American Airlines, indicating their offering of NDC-supported products. This along with incessant media questions, prompted Wade Jones, president, Sabre Travel Network, to literally address the “elephant in the room” as he called it. Jones’ comment on NDC corporately positioned Sabre as a “team player and partner to all, thus willingly providing support for NDC connectivity.” Jones went on to say that “Sabre will embrace the latest and greatest standards and what is good for one is good for the industry.”
In keeping with the innovation side of the conference, Sabre introduced new technology tools designed to affect real bottom line change as well as enhance the overall agent/customer experience. Specifically, the new API, FareNabber, was officially launched last week and provides the newest shopping capability for flight information based on customer preference. In addition, Sabre provided a glimpse into their revenue optimization methodology which is available to agents and described in detail via the Revenue Optimization White Paper . And for the real technology geeks and futurists in the audience, Sabre’s emerging technologies group, Sabre Labs, gave a high level look at the next generation of products — all of which are summarized in the Radar Report, which includes nine emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality gets physical, and space tourism. From their lab view, it must look like the Jetson world has already arrived, and it’s always exciting to consider the possibilities in our ‘quickly-changing world’ as we have been frequently reminded of throughout the week and what that means to our industry.
Attendees of TTX enjoyed a ballroom full of new and updated tools and products to effectively combat the challenges of today’s changing landscape. The actual Technology Exchange event, which was open daily across the three days, provided the networking backdrop to numerous demos and educational presentations highlighting enhancements to the existing platform, Sabre Red Workspace, along with other products, TripCase, GetThere and other APIs – all signature technologies designed to enhance user experience and efficiency.
Overall Sabre put on a polished, well-organized and meaty event. They delivered on all points – education, innovation, collaboration, networking and executive access. As always you get out of industry events what you put into them, but the substance was definitely there for the taking.
Lastly, it’s only fitting to mention the host city and the actual fun involved in an industry event like this. Connecting with old friends and colleagues, and making new ones is standard fare at any conference, but it’s always a little more exciting when Las Vegas is hosting the party! Everything is bigger, brighter and better in this “convention capital of the world”, and it uniquely provides the perfect setting for social and business to converge. The venue was the luxurious Aria Casino and Resort, part of the MGM Resorts Family. It delivered on both functionality and glam, including the lobby’s atrium artwork – hanging bicycles in every color! But it was Cirque du Soleil’s KA that stole the show, literally leaving us breathless, speechless and clapping for more. It’s truly an indescribable production, with the actual stage as the leading star. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
That’s a high level wrap for TTX 2017! Look for more details on Sabre technologies and announcements in the coming days on Travel Daily USA. #