Speaking in Bangkok this week, Roshan Mendis, the newly-appointed senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific, revealed that the company will “consolidate under one brand, across the region and across the world”.
The move follows Sabre’s acquisition of the remaining 65% stake in Abacus – a deal that Mendis said Sabre had been pursuing “for a number of years”.
But aside from the rebranding to Sabre, Mendis said that it would be very much business as usual for Abacus, its customers and suppliers following the takeover.
“Nothing’s going to change and everything will be better,” Mendis told Travel Daily. “The business is doing well, it’s growing nicely [and] has happy customers, so we will continue to do the good work that Abacus has been doing for the last nearly two decades.
“But my job is to understand how the Abacus business can benefit from being completely owned by Sabre and how Sabre can benefit from owning Abacus. That means being plugged into the product planning process early on, so that we are influencing global product. We want to offer suppliers and agencies a proposition that is much more global than Abacus.”
And Abacus-connected travel agencies can look forward to a broader range of products and content through Sabre, according to Mendis.
“We need to be constantly equipping our agencies to compete and win. Whether they be online travel agents or bricks and mortar agencies, corporate travel agencies or meta-search companies, they are in a very competitive marketplace and we need to be doing things to make Sabre-powered agencies better and more competitive than non-Sabre-powered agencies.
“For example we have the broadest set of airline content and in some cases differentiated content. And Sabre’s air to non-air mix in the GDS is about five times higher than Abacus. There are clearly opportunities in the non-air space and we certainly want to grow that area of the business and expand the proposition we provide to agencies,” he added.
Sabre is also acquiring Abacus Travel Systems, the Singapore national marketing company. This follows a recent agreement signed with Abacus Distribution Systems (Hong Kong). But in terms of Abacus’ main organisational structure, Mendis said there will be no immediate upheaval.
Singapore will remain the company’s Asia Pacific headquarters, although he added that Sabre is “going through a process of understanding which markets we work in directly and which markets we work through joint ventures or distribution partners”.
“That may change going forward, and we may choose to work in more markets directly. But what an outsider sees as Abacus and how we operate around the region will largely remain the same,” he added.
“We are going through our plans for products, sales, account management and people – all that is in the works. It’s a very healthy, growing business, so we don’t feel a big need to make significant changes.
“Outside of consolidating to one brand, I don’t think there are going to be any major shifts – except for a very thoughtful plan to make everything better,” Mendis concluded.
Sabre, which previously held a 35% stake in Abacus, announced the full acquisition in May 2015, taking the remaining 65% stake in the company from a group of major Asian airlines: ANA, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Dragonair, Philippine Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, SilkAir and Singapore Airlines. As part of the deal, Sabre has signed new long-term distribution agreements with all 11 carriers.