ATN: What do you think airlines need from a technology provider?
Jones: In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many customers across a diverse set of business models and regions. What I’m hearing from them is that they need a partner that doesn’t lock them into a certain way of doing business. That’s why Sabre Airline Solutions® is committed to providing airlines the freedom they need with more choices and ways for them to expand, grow revenue, be efficient or productive, and treat their customers the way they want. Because at the end of the day, our job is to partner with airlines to help them solve their toughest problems and enable them to be successful.
ATN: You mention freedom. Why is it important for an airline?
Jones: These days, we understand that airlines need to be nimble. And to compete effectively, they need solutions that can quickly and easily adapt to their business needs. The freedom we offer to airlines involves configurability and adaptability. Our fundamental approach is to deliver Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions making it possible for airlines to use our standard products and easily adapt them to their unique or changing business environment. Ultimately, standard vs. custom solutions lower an airline’s total cost of ownership while increasing their speed to market. And of course, this flexibility is important to airlines so they can advance in this ever-changing market.
ATN: What do you think are the top three challenges the industry is facing today? What are you doing to address them?
Jones: I think we all agree that airlines have to find creative ways to generate incremental revenue. They must transform themselves beyond just moving passengers from one place to another. One of the challenges the industry is facing today is the ability to drive incremental revenue through advanced merchandising and ancillary sales. Our product merchandising solution, including our deep consulting expertise, opens up an enormous opportunity for them to evolve their strategy and act more like a traditional retailer, to dynamically offer the right product, and the right service at the most optimal time in the travelers’ journey. Ultimately allowing airlines to alleviate revenue pressures and give their passengers the experience they deserve.
Another challenge is an airline’s ability to offset rising fuel costs to maintain or grow profitability. This is largely dependent on improving asset utilization and at the same time, delivering great customer service. Airlines need to keep their airports moving, manage through complex irregular operations while maximizing aircraft utilization. Our solutions and consulting services can help airlines ensure that they have the right strategy, processes and capabilities to meet their complex operational needs. For example, our robust airport self-service solutions help airlines efficiently deal with an increasing number of passengers, our recovery and reaccommodation solutions help airlines manage change effectively and our industry-leading schedule and fleet management solutions help to ensure that they offer an optimal schedule. These are just a few of the many opportunities that our portfolio unlocks, helping airlines reach their profit potential.
Lastly, the third challenge revolves around an airline’s ability to deliver their unique customer experience, as well as better enable their workforce. Airlines have access to mountains of data but need help turning that data into useful management information. They need it at all levels and across the organization – executive, analyst, airport staff, ground crew; they need it wherever they are – at their desk, in a plane, on the tarmac. Addressing the specific airline challenge of satisfying both the passenger and workforce demands has required us to extend our solutions beyond the traditional business to consumer offering. Our team is deploying innovative technology solutions that truly connect airlines to their passengers, workforce, aircraft and the airport so that decisions can be made faster, actions can be taken sooner and problems can be resolved more rapidly. We are delivering solutions that literally enable airlines to close the information loop in real-time.
ATN: When it comes to technology and innovation at Sabre Airline Solutions, what role do airlines play?
Jones: Our 380 plus airline and airport customers play an important role in guiding our direction, enabling us to develop market-relevant roadmaps. We look at industry challenges, future trends and listen to what our customers are saying. It is important that they have a voice and opportunities to provide suggestions and feedback on our products and services through various on-and off-line channels. This collaboration occurs at all levels, regardless of airline size, business model or geography. Collectively, this helps ensure we provide innovative solutions that meet customer needs and solve industry-wide challenges. We pride ourselves on having the largest, most collaborative airline community in the industry – which differentiates us.
ATN: What successes have your customers experienced while using your solutions?
Jones: I am proud to say we have strong relationships with our customers and continually partner with them to help them be successful. We have countless testimonials supporting our collective successes and specifically citing how we bring value to their operations. We continue to add and migrate customers to the Sabre® community; most recently South African carrier kulula.com went live on our solution and anticipates cost efficiencies and new business growth as a direct result. Virgin America recently received several 2012 World Airline Awards including best low-cost airline and best staff service. And two more of our customers, JetBlue and Alaska, recently received 2012 J.D. Power Awards for customer satisfaction. These are just a few examples of how our airlines have been successful, and we are proud to be their technology solutions provider.