Southwest Airlines content is going live in the Sabre global distribution system on Monday, giving corporate travelers and travel management companies easier access to the carrier's content as it prepares for growing business travel demand in the coming months.
The start comes a few weeks shy of two years after Southwest first announced its new distribution strategy of providing content and full booking capabilities in Travelport and Amadeus, each of which went live last year. Sabre was not part of that announcement and instead was a "cold start" at the beginning of this year, after Sabre and Southwest reached a deal just as their longstanding "basic booking request" model was set to expire, Southwest Business VP David Harvey said.
That model had been part of "a long-standing relationship since the mid-'90s, but you had to jump through extra hoops, and it was hard to service," he said. "Now, if they're wanting to do business with Southwest, the negative biases are gone, and it's easier to transact with Southwest."
Sabre SVP of global agency sales and corporate solutions Andy Finkelstein said Southwest's participation removes "complexity and costs" for agents who had been using the basic booking request model.
Last week, Southwest executives reported that corporate bookings had improved in June, with stronger improvement expected for the fall. Southwest' Sabre participation potentially will give an extra jolt to those bookings, Harvey said.
"We were getting mobilized, knowing at some point in the pandemic people would be going back to the skies," he said. "Now, we see the stars align as business traffic is starting to strengthen before our eyes."