18 February 2009

Sabre Pricing beats ALL other GDSs most of the time

....Well at least according to Sabre and Topaz consulting.

Here is the report from Sabre: http://www.sabretravelnetwork.com/images/uploads/collateral/2008_Global_Low_Fare_Search_Comparison.pdf

Having done many of these studies myself - I can verify that the methodology was sound. I find it interesting that Sabre claims the lowest fare title. Traditionally in the past they have not been the lowest fare engine when using different metrics. So most of the time I have tended to blow off their claim of the lowest fare king. However these numbers appear to be pretty significant and for once I can actually examine them and validate their efficacy - however I hasten to add that I have not had time to run such an audit.

Before you all trash me and say I am being partisan towards Sabre - far from it.

However there is always this element that you find in the use of the tool. The method of testing tended to investigate Sabre more frequently in a beneficial manner - IE there was no deep query of the other GDS failures. Still even if you take that into account Sabre still looks like they are the winners here.

Now - does this necessarily relate to real life?

Yes and no.

If you are using an automated XML application my team has found that consistently Worldspan serves up better fares via the Webservices/XML offerings. However we have not had time or resources to do this in 2009 on a comprehensive test because we usually only compare GDS A with GDS B. The last set of tests we ran were in Jan and Feb 2009 and were for UK and Germany (the largest 2 European markets) only. In our tests we found that Amadeus's applications got to the fare faster than anyone else's. So we give the edge to Amadeus.

In native screen applications using the services of the provided GDS screens (1A Selling Platform vs. 1S MySabre), we saw more failures in transactions in Sabre than in Amadeus. We also found that Sabre's tax calculations were often lower than Amadeus but we would definitely question some of the tax logic in Sabre. So we would be concerned about some airlines raising debit memos for inaccurate pricing. This is a caution we would raise for any long term use.

Remember that the Airlines attitude is Shoot First (ie issue ADM) then ask questions later.

All in all the boys and girls in Dallas deserve kudos. But I will remain cautious. This is a bit like the mileage rating in cars. Your driving may result in different answers. One thing is for sure - the GDS pricing systems are not infallible. A good agent can always manipulate the system but most are too busy to get that lowest fare. And besides who buys retail anyway...



Anonymous said...

And how would this compare to a non-GDS pricing engine such as ITA?

Professor Sabena said...

Interesting point. ITA works very well in the USA. It also works well in the single carrier environment. Multi-carrier with private and published fares is different matter and it not so easily managed. For this the Non-US designed applications in my opinion are better. Of course the cost per using for a search in ITA is not cheap.

This strays into the area of non-homogeneous content. Again in my opinion the GDS model of one size fits all fails. There are definitely better "best of breed" solutions that can excel where GDS based solutions just dont quite fit.

I guess my bottom line is that in a GDS centric world you can have one GDS be better than the others. But in the real world, a hybridized solution is both more practical and delivers better results. However that was not the criteria of the test!