Technology and innovation in services came to FITUR thanks to Sabre. We talked with Alvaro de Simon, Head of Sales, about the company's current affairs and projects.
How was Sabré's participation in FITUR?
The truth is that it has been an extraordinary adventure that we have experienced during these days because we have been able to once again appreciate the prevailing optimism in the tourism sector in general. There is some confidence in the area of post-pandemic recovery and, of course, for Saber it has been a spectacular landing given that right now we are framed within a strategic framework of expansion of our brand in different countries, including Spain and Portugal. Hence, the presence we have today at FITUR. Within this strategic framework, it is true that both Spain and Portugal are predominant markets in which it wants to increase its footprint and that is why we are here today.
What is the vision they have about each particular market?
For Spain, we foresee for this year that the growth rate, the post-pandemic recovery rate, will reach a double digit closer to 80% than anything else in the Spanish market in the air issuer segment. In Portugal it will be approximately the same in similar quotas, perhaps a little lower, but they will also be similar quotas due to the idiosyncrasies of the market itself. For this reason, we believe that it will be the definitive year for the consolidation of a post-pandemic recovery.
What is your reading of what can happen compared to what you see in other regions of the world?
Well, before talking about the trends, it is true that the level of recovery by region has been different last year. Last year, for example, the South American continent was the one that recovered the most quickly, even more than North America in that sense. Then we were positioned in that second and the last one that we have seen with a recovery trend has been Asia for obvious reasons of regulations restricting certain destinations, specifically China, which is a very powerful market and which is now once again trying to open up with with regulation. Regarding trends, the new normality tells us about personalization. That is to say, Agencies and relevant players in the tourism industry have to bet more and more on greater personalization for the end customer to provide value in the tourism chain. We are going to have to work on knowing, even prioritizing and even guessing what our final consumer is going to want in order to send personalized offers to the right person at the right time. In this sense, Saber has developed a strategic association with Google, which we signed two years ago exclusively for the next 10 years, in which we have a collaborative environment to explore artificial intelligence that enables certain products that allow this trend that I am commenting on. And on the other hand, I think that another very important trend is going to be the automation of processes. As of today, based on a consultancy that we did about a year ago with a German consulting firm that interviewed 500 decision-makers from agencies and airlines. We have seen that up to 70% of processes today are still manual. Therefore there is an immensely important opportunity to increase revenue via maximizing productivity for the travel agent. I think those are going to be the trends in the short term: personalization and process automation. Therefore there is an immensely important opportunity to increase revenue via maximizing productivity for the travel agent. I think those are going to be the trends in the short term: personalization and process automation. Therefore there is an immensely important opportunity to increase revenue via maximizing productivity for the travel agent. I think those are going to be the trends in the short term: personalization and process automation.
Could you tell me more about the exclusive alliance with Google?
The collaborative field is based on two fundamental pillars. The first is that it is a collaborative environment for the development of artificial intelligence that we will let you know about before. The second is the migration to the Cloud of most of Sabre's products and services. As of today we have reached a quota of 65% and, logically, it saves a lot of costs, gives the system more robustness, more agility and more flexibility. Therefore, we are very happy in that collaborative environment. On the other hand, our own colleagues from Saber are the second, after Google, who are being trained the most in everything that Google persé is learning in different knowledge dynamics.
What business units are you going to focus on?
Saber has two general business units. One is Travel Solutions in which we focus airlines and agencies and other Hospitality Solutions which is the sale of software for hotels in my case. Our line with respect to travel agencies is with the expansion of the team based on that strategic framework that we are having to achieve. We are going to continue this progression that we are having very positive.
In numbers, which of the two countries will have a greater number of partner agencies in the first year of operations?
I believe that the Spanish market is where we are going to put more lights. It is here where we believe that we have a greater possibility of expansion, simply because the market is of greater volume. Therefore, it allows us to have interesting conversations with players in the sector. Then, Portugal is a market that is also important for us, but since it is not as huge in terms of volume as the Spanish market, we will put it in the background and this year we are going to focus above all on the Spanish market.
Today we are at Fitur, but the year continues and surely they have other initiatives planned, right?
I don't have all the specific information. For us, the most important presence for the Saber Spain team was FITUR because it is the benchmark event and then, logically, a little bit in collaboration with marketing, we will study what possibilities we can hold for slightly more localized events.