SabreSonic CSS: A Vision For The Future

2016 Statement Of Direction Summary

A refresh of the SabreSonic Customer Sales & Service (CSS) Statement of Direction provides a high-level view of key airline challenges and Sabre Airline Solutions' corresponding near-term investments in its flagship product.

To be successful in today’s highly competitive travel industry, an airline must balance a complex logistical operation in real-time with the constantly changing needs of its customers, and do so profitably.

Typically, airlines face a number of key challenges: maximizing revenue, controlling costs, delivering a memorable service experience, engendering loyalty and clearly differentiating the product. Tackling these challenges requires adaptability to rapid change, flawless execution and exemplary customer service, supported by empowered employees, flexible business processes and a powerful array of actionable business information.

For an airline with such complex operational demands, this support can only come from a strategic technology and solution partner — an industry expert armed with a comprehensive service platform to execute critical business processes and a rich suite of complementary solutions and professional services to support the data-rich needs of an airline’s customers and its personnel. To address this mission critical need, Sabre launched the SabreSonic CSS suite.

Investing And Extending

Launched in 2008, SabreSonic CSS has become the leading customer sales and service solution for airlines. Through a combination of high reliability, unmatched performance and the widest range of business solutions in the industry SabreSonic CSS is a critical enabler. Since its inception, it has provided a rich core of functionality, enabling airlines to operate efficiently and successfully: increase revenue, reduce operational costs and drive customer loyalty.

As the marketplace has evolved, airlines have increasingly sought to differentiate their product offerings and deliver better service and value to their customers. As a result, Sabre has continued to make significant investments in SabreSonic CSS to solidify the value proposition and extend its core capabilities in several critical areas including:

  • Customer centricity,
  • Inventory and availability,
  • Airline retailing,
  • Departure control,
  • Payment solutions.

Its functionality has now moved well beyond integrated sales, reservations, check-in and inventory control. Since 2014, SabreSonic CSS has extended the core with more than 20 innovative solutions, such as Customer Experience Manager, Dynamic Retailer, Shopping Cache and Interline Ancillaries.

Key Business Challenges

Until recently, most airlines, large and small, regional or global, focused much of their attention on discrete business processes: enabling an efficient booking, delivering a ticket, processing an accurate refund and ensuring rapid check-in. While this transactional focus has made airlines masters of efficiency, new challenges now require vastly different solutions. The emergence of loyalty programs and ancillary sales as business critical functions are two good indicators of this shift — a shift toward a more customer-centric, retail-focused approach.

While transaction-based efficiency is still fundamentally important to the operation and bottom-line, the market now rewards carriers that take a holistic view of their customers — their plans, preferences, purchases and even their friends.

These new business challenges are complex, but not insurmountable for an airline armed with powerful solutions and supported by strategic partners. To improve revenues, airlines continue to explore additional merchandising opportunities and new retail-based models. This requires solutions that offer the contextual delivery of products, such as dynamic packaging and branding innovations.

To reward and retain customers, as well as provide an engaging customer experience, airlines must deliver the right interaction at the right time in the right way. This requires rich, data-driven solutions that allow for flexible personalization of all services.

Increasingly important, many airlines now need to extend their service offerings seamlessly across partner networks, which demand a significant level of data interchange, process integration and service orchestration. Not surprisingly, these new services require an unprecedented suite of analytics backed by rich and accurate data about customers, business partners and the market.

Powerful Solutions Via Major Investments

To remain competitive, airlines must differentiate their products and services and bring greater value to their customers. To help airlines achieve these goals to their highest potential, Sabre has made sizeable investments in SabreSonic CSS, extending its core capabilities in several critical areas such as customer centricity, inventory and availability, airline retailing, departure control and payment solutions.

Key Strategic Investment Areas

The varied business challenges of airlines shape the entire SabreSonic CSS solutions suite. Importantly, these challenges influence SabreSonic CSS innovation on three broad timescales. In the short-term, 6-18 months, these business problems drive discrete product innovations tied to SabreSonic CSS solution roadmaps. In the long-term, 4 years and beyond, this drives a broad suite-level SabreSonic CSS portfolio vision.

Over the mid-term — the next two to three years — these imperatives fuel strategic investments in significant solution-level enhancements to SabreSonic CSS. These mid-term investments are the focus of the SabreSonic CSS Statement of Direction in five broad areas including:

  • Data and analytics,
  • Shopping and availability,
  • Customer-centric airline retailing,
  • Airports reimagined,
  • Professional services.
Multi-Domain Data And Actionable Analytics

Business processes within the airline or across business partners require vast swathes of operational, financial, customer, partner and competitor data. SabreSonic CSS investments in this area focus on extending the leading portfolio of data integration, and distribution and consumption solutions, and it will invest in additional, actionable analytic capabilities, including:

  • Operational data store — Built on the unique Sabre Intelligence Exchange platform, the operational data store integrates and exposes disparate data across functional silos, delivers innovative business processes and enables an airline to benefit from real-time actionable insights.
  • Unified customer profile data — This feature captures a 360-degree view of the customer journey, customer preferences and history, across all behaviors and touchpoints, to enable the right service interaction to the right customer at the right time. Integration with demographic and social intelligence data helps target and enhance traveler personas.
  • Tight loyalty integration — Flexible integration with select loyalty-management systems augments existing airline loyalty data to improve targeting and personalization.
  • Rules-based business actions — Data actioned via configurable business rules in near real-time provides a differentiated customer interaction across the customer journey and the various points of service.
  • Analytics — Robust and growing data analysis tools, covering online shopping and merchandising analytics, customer analytics, inventory analytics, commercial and operational analytics, paves the way for deep insights and evolution toward predictive and prescriptive capabilities.
Optimized, Personalized Shopping And Availability

Airlines are faced with several acute challenges: lack of accurate availability to service exponential growth in shopping volume; inability to differentiate product offerings through traditional shopping; difficulty in personalizing shopping responses; and the need to accelerate conversions. SabreSonic CSS investments in this area address these challenges and pave the way for additional shopping and availability solutions such as:

  • Distributed Availability — Builds a high-performance copy of availability distributed across shopping channels, such as online and GDS, in near real-time.
  • Personalized availability and reaccommodation — Provides customized availability and prioritizes reaccommodation based on forecasted demand and a traveler’s life-time value.
  • Shopping Cache — Extending the shopping solution to support branded fares, vertically-oriented type search (such as youth, family), multiple cabins, usage analytics and reporting.
  • Total inventory — Expanded O&D and leg/segment capabilities including journey leveling; inventory control and rules for ancillaries; business rules for codeshare inventory; bid-price exchange for codeshare partners; integration to revenue management.
  • Extended calendar shopping — Offers shopping via single or multiple lengths of stay and lowest price by length of stay; histogram of roundtrip prices by month and dates; 60-day calendar showing redemption availability and prices; retargeting customers with lead-price offers based on recent flight search.
  • Total revenue optimization — Taking into account ancillaries, as well as seats, when optimizing; optimization across an airline’s interline and codeshare partnerships featuring sophisticated point-of-service and channel control.
Customer-Centric Retailing

Customer-centric retailing furthers e-commerce best practices with investments that tackle several challenges such as increased stickiness and overall conversions across channels, improved ancillary product attachment rate, targeted intelligent offers to the right customers and personalizing the user experience in direct channels. SabreSonic CSS retailing solutions will continue to evolve including:

  • Recommendation engine — The recommendation engine assesses shopping patterns to influence shopping behavior, deliver personalized product recommendations based on comprehensive customer data and support merchandising analytics.
  • Digital experience and digital connect — A single, extensible, device-agnostic platform based on responsive design that is context-aware and persistent across channels. It features comprehensive open-standard format support, enabling third-parties to build custom websites and/or mobile apps.
  • Ancillary retailing — Extending the sales of ancillaries and packaging based on the personal needs of travelers connected to enhanced analytics. It extends ancillary sales to interline partners and vice versa. Provides redemption for non-air products.
  • Enhanced payment solutions — Delivering robust payment options supporting payment with points, EMV (chip and pin) transactions and PayPal.
  • Exposure through IATA New Distribution Capability (NDC) — Opens the Dynamic Retailer solution to third parties through the standard IATA NDC schema for ancillary shopping.
Key Focus Areas Of Investment

As airlines face an array of business challenges, it’s critical that SabreSonic CSS arms them with technology to address these challenges. In doing so, Sabre will continually invest in SabreSonic for the long term. However, investments will come in stages based on how mission critical they are to airlines. During the next two to three years, key focus areas of investment include data and analytics; shopping and availability; customer-centric retailing, airports reimagined and professional services.

Airports Reimagined And Service Recovery

SabreSonic CSS investments in this area focus on streamlining airport operations, delivering a compelling contextual customer experience, enabling additional retailing opportunities and enhancing end-to-end service recovery. Key investments include:

  • Mobile Concierge — Empowering agents to provide personalized service at the right time and place via a mobile, check-in, gate and departure-management solutions.
  • Enhanced check-in services — New and enhanced services covering: automated check-in and self-service, automated upgrade and standby processing, and offline departure-control system for uninterrupted check-in during a network outage.
  • Biometric capabilities — Support services for authentication and monitoring of customers at the airport using facial-recognition technology.
  • Advanced baggage services — These services streamline baggage management, improve lost-baggage processing and deliver customer-focused services such has: automated bag drop, support for door-to-door bag service, remote printed bag tags and support for electronic bag tags.
  • End-to-end reaccommodation — Further extends Sabre’s industry-leading service-recovery and disruption-management solution with end-to-end service recovery for flights and hotel accommodations, automated rebooking of ancillaries during reaccommodation, self-service reaccommodation via mobile app, customer value score evaluation during reaccommodation, reaccommodation across interline and codeshare partners and an irregular operations dashboard.
  • Geo-location-based services — Integrate and apply select geo-location and “blue dot” positioning tools to capture traveler location data for incorporation across various day-of-travel solutions.
Professional Services

Investments in this area focus on extending Sabre’s professional-services portfolio, enabling an airline to streamline, transition and automate key business processes. Closely integrated with the SabreSonic CSS suite of solutions, these services drive solution adoption and are centered on deployment, solution consulting and process optimization including.

  • Data and analytics services — Enables airlines to predict, measure, evaluate and determine actionable insights that impact business performance. This includes integrated data strategy, data cleansing and validation, customer value scoring, business reporting, data mining and analytics.
  • Airline retailing services across the journey — This helps airlines address the key business challenges posed by airline retailing including:
    • Transitioning from a traditional fare pricing model to ancillaries-based pricing;
    • Offering planning, seating design and interline-branded fare pricing;
    • Providing personalization services such as segmentation analysis and customer-tier management;
    • Channel-management services covering omni-direct and indirect channel functionality;
    • Migration to Digital Experience and Digital Connect, user interface analysis and data mapping services.
  • Services for the connected airport — Helps airlines automate and simplify key business processes during service disruptions, including business process re-engineering for streamlining operations and improving the customer experience.
  • Technical integration services — A set of technology consulting services that helps airlines enable, utilize and integrate Sabre solutions with their other systems, ensuring maximum return on all technology investments across their technology portfolio.

For a more detailed description of SabreSonic CSS and insights into our strategic initiatives for the coming years, we invite you to download a complete copy of the 2016 SabreSonic CSS Statement of Direction. It should be used in conjunction with our detailed individual SabreSonic CSS suite roadmaps. Sabre publishes the SabreSonic CSS Statement of Direction biennially.