20 March 2009

Sabre Launches ProfilePlus.

As regular readers know - I am not a huge fan of the GDSs. But occasionally they do something right.

The new Sabre ProfilePlus product which will replace the old and now very tired STAARS product (actually does it still have 2 As in it?) it has used for so many moons.

All 3 GDSs are now working on the non-TPF hosted Profile system. I cannot comment on the others because I haven't seen the Amadeus and the TravelPort products. However I think it is definitely a product type whose time has come.

Prying open the GDS to allow access to the core functionality of the GDS without necessarily changing the underlying components, would have been heresy even a few years ago. Today with products like LUTE's Open Office Platform and Travelport's new workstation product, the unbundled model is indeed becoming a reality.

It should be remembered that the GDS sits on 3 basic platform legs.

Content and access to supply e.g. Airlines Inventory and pricing
Applications e.g. Shopping tools
Customer File Management e.g. PNRs and profiles

The unbundling of the GDS model has been something that has needed to happen for a very long time.

ProfilePlus represents a good way forward. It is huge. 1600 data elements. It is however still host based. The old flat file based profiles are replaced with significant capabilities and useful tools. It is based on web services model with a GUI as the front end and interfaces using both a command line or a Graphical front end. It is also 2 way although the initial release will be the traditional unidirectional tool. it is tightly coupled to MySabre but in the future will support external services such as Merlin in Germany.

Among the new capabilities are:

1. Templates that will make profile creation a lot easier
2. Filters that enable the display of only critical data a lot easier
3. A master (Oracle based) database for the management and manipulation of profiles
4. PNR interaction via a new *PI function
5. Profile migration tool which is essential
6. A future road map of many functions
7. Interaction with both local and remote applications

There are many elements that will be familiar - A.O.N - Always, Optional and Never move components.

In the discussion with the product folks today, they described how Sabre has a vision for recreating the PNR by "flattening" the structure. This is a pretty radical departure for a GDS.

Product roll out will occur in Q2 2009 with migration complete by the end of 2010. There are already about 25-30 users on the system in test.

Frankly the power will be more than 90% of what agents will generally need. But this wont be too complicated as the standard agent in the high street never need touch the power. However for a large corporate agency this has functions that have been asked for. It is however a whole new structure and functionality that will require extensive support services (that Sabre will initially provide at no additional charge). It is of the same magnitude of effort as the introduction of scripting.

There are still challenges. Prying open the GDS requires a philosophical and commercial model that Sabre doesn't seem to be too keen to support at this point. But with tools like this the technology is not going to be the problem.

Kudos to the team at Sabre who did the work. It looks very thorough. However one should spend a lot of time with the product before deciding on its deployment profile.

It would be very interesting to see how the other 2 systems, Amadeus' new environment and the G2 based solution from Travelport stack up against Sabre's now announced offering.


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