Travel solutions provider’s executive dashboard delivers real-time data to airlines.


Case Study: Sabre

Sabre Streamlines Decision Making

Travel solutions provider’s executive dashboard delivers real-time data to airlines.

For more than 50 years, Sabre has transformed the travel industry through technological advancements achieved by its four companies: Sabre Airline Solutions, Travelocity, Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Hospitality Solutions.

As one of the world’s largest travel solutions providers, Sabre faces challenges that include creat­ing business intelligence (BI) tools for itself and leveraging it for its clients. While many data warehouse and BI efforts are initiated to support internal corporate initiatives, Sabre is unusual in that it also delivers these solutions to external customers such as airlines, travel agen­cies, hotels, cruise and rental car companies.

At a Glance




The Company: Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, with approximately 9,000 employees in 59 countries, Sabre Holdings is a world leader in travel, operating Travelocity, Sabre Travel Network, Sabre Airline Solutions and Sabre Hospitality Solutions. Its annual revenue was approximately $3 billion in 2009.

The Challenge: As a leading technology provider to the airline industry, Sabre Airline Solutions rec­ognized the need for real-time deci­sion support for its airline customers, many of which were relying on rev­enue and other key performance data that was days or even weeks old.

The Solution: The Sabre Executive Dashboard, a timely, auto­mated, hosted solution, aggregates critical airline performance metrics on a daily or intra-day basis. Metrics include sales performance, operations, reservations, inventory and revenue across multiple distribution channels.

The Results: Airline manage­ment can view key performance metrics in near real time and easily monitor and track daily operations, with some data seamlessly updated as often as every 15 minutes. At one airline, what had been an eight-hour, once-a-week process is now a single, real-time application.

Brainstorm Brewing

During the long, hot summer of 2008, the global economy grew increasingly grim, with the volatile airline industry one of the hardest hit. In response, Sabre’s leadership coordinated an off-site, cross-company brainstorming session in which participants were challenged to explore opportunities and develop ideas, including new value-added BI services based on real-time data feeds.

The concept for an airline executive dash­board “rose to the top,” says Jessica Thorud, director of Data Warehouse Development and Delivery for Sabre Airline Solutions. “The group recognized that … getting accu­rate and timely operational data is a critical need for our customers’ top executives.”

That’s because airline executives must make quick assessments of daily results, forthcoming booking trends and the impacts of competition. Then they need to take immediate action, monitor the results and review.

However, the traditional pro­cess for collecting and aggregating information has been manual and time-consuming—often taking days or weeks, especially for smaller airlines. This valuable time could make all the dif­ference in serving passengers, ensuring safety and boosting the bottom line.

A Dashboard is Born

Fueled by a common vision, strong collabo­ration and support at the highest levels in the organization, a prototype for the Sabre Executive Dashboard was created less than six months after the brainstorming session.

The effort involved more than 40 employ­ees from 10 teams across Sabre, including accounting, operations, user interface development, usability, marketing, BI and the enterprise data warehouse group, as well as consultation with several customers. The product was launched in July 2009, just seven months after the prototype was developed.

"Having an array of financial, operational and other business information at their fingertips on their desktop computers every day strengthens executives’ ability to manage successfully."

— Jeff Barnhart, Sabre Executive Dashboard Product Manager

Driven to develop an important tool for customers, Sabre focused on getting the new dashboard into their hands as quickly as possible. This meant offering the core key performance indicators (KPIs) to start, getting feedback from clients and quickly adapting to offer more KPIs.

A Better View

The application’s purpose is to integrate performance metrics for decision makers. It has typically been difficult for airlines to aggregate these measurements from various sources into a single, at-a-glance view that can identify opportunities for enhancing customer service, operations and revenues.

Airlines can configure their customiz­able dashboard to monitor the metrics they believe will make the biggest impact. In doing so, however, those airlines with solutions from other providers in some operational areas required a standard, struc­tured process for feeding data into their dashboards. According to the development team, providing this capability—integration of various data sets—was one of the greatest challenges. But this ability to integrate data from systems other than Sabre’s broadens the dashboard’s target market.

Ultimately, the dashboard delivers a fully automated, user-friendly interface that enables top-level managers to view performance metrics in real time and easily monitor and track daily business operations. With some data updated every 15 minutes, this single dashboard brings together the key bookings, sales, revenue and flight informa­tion that defines the airline’s performance, both today and in the days ahead.

At one airline, the Sabre Executive Dashboard provides senior management with a daily and intra-day snapshot of important KPIs in a single application. What was once an eight-hour, once-a-week process to collect data from many sources and generate reports has become a single, real-time application, facilitat­ing quicker decisions.

On-Time Operations

In particular, having schedule information updated every 15 minutes enables executives to monitor the day’s flights more closely. Because of the cascading down-line effects, as the daily kick­off flights go, so go the rest of the day’s departures and arrivals. When top managers have access to critical information, they can readily see outlying data points—good or poor—and focus resources on addressing the root causes.

The dashboard allows top- and middle-level leaders more time for bottom-line-oriented activities because they have a single repository of shared, timely and actionable information. Access to real-time business-critical informa­tion enables improved strategic and tactical decisions, which translates into increased revenue, efficiency and customer loyalty.

“Having an array of financial, operational and other business information at their fingertips on their desktop computers every day strengthens executives’ ability to manage successfully,” says Sabre Executive Dashboard Product Manager Jeff Barnhart. “They can see how the business is doing right now and com­pare year-over-year. By seeing up to 331 days of future bookings, they have insight into future revenue streams. The executives and analysts can now focus on any outlying data points, determine impact and take action immediately to repeat or eliminate successes or problem events, instead of later when the window of opportunity for effective action has passed.”

Ready for Takeoff

Future enhancements to the dashboard:

  • New metrics to provide even more insight into an airline’s status
  • Mobile application currently under development to access the dashboard using smart phones
  • Seamless connection to other Sabre dash­boards and detailed reporting products
  • Data from the Sabre Customer Value Calculator to provide more detailed information on passengers to help identify trends

“Near real-time integrated data has created opportunities for us to drive more value for our customers,” says Darren Rickey, vice president of Solutions Management for Sabre AirVision Marketing and Planning in Sabre Airline Solutions. “The Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse, combined with our BI tools, has enabled Sabre to create data-driven solutions like the Sabre Executive Dashboard and various other reporting solu­tions for airlines. We’re helping our customers to enhance their customer-service capabilities and improve their revenues.”

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