Sabre Corporation, a global technology leader powering the travel industry, has appointed Sam Machado as the new Managing Director for the India market. With extensive experience in the travel and hospitality sector, Machado brings a wealth of knowledge to Sabre, having previously served in various leadership roles within the industry. His return to Sabre marks a significant milestone as the company reinforces its commitment to driving innovation and customer success in the region.
In an exclusive conversation with ETTravelWorld, Machado highlighted trends he sees in the marketplace, Sabre’s plans, and what agencies need to be thinking about to harness India’s huge tourism industry growth.
Vision for growth
Machado’s professional journey in the travel industry has been characterised by continuous growth and a deep understanding of market dynamics. Having previously joined Sabre in 2011 and later progressing to lead sales across the Asia Pacific region, Sam’s decision to rejoin Sabre stems from his belief in the company’s vision to be the most valued technology platform in travel. He expresses his excitement about returning to India and South Asia, where he began his journey with Sabre and forged lifelong connections.
“In the dynamic and ever-evolving Indian market, there are immense growth possibilities, I’m thrilled to be back at Sabre, where I can make a significant positive impact on our customers’ businesses and the wider travel ecosystem,” he mentioned.
Focus areas and responsibilities
As the Managing Director for India, Machado will lay special emphasis on a customer-centric approach, with a primary focus on supporting both online and brick-and-mortar agency customers. He underscores Sabre’s commitment to providing innovative technology solutions that anticipate future trends and meet the evolving needs of travellers and agencies alike.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that our innovative technology solutions are at the forefront of the digital transformation happening across the travel marketplace. We aim to leverage strategic partnerships, enhanced customer relations, and relentless pursuit of technology-driven solutions to propel Sabre’s growth and presence in the region,” Machado explained.
Navigating market dynamics & unlocking growth opportunities
The new Sabre India MD identifies the Indian travel marketplace as one of the most dynamic and exciting markets globally. With predictions indicating India’s rise as the fourth largest spender on travel by 2030, there are significant opportunities for growth. To navigate these changes, Machado emphasises the importance of understanding the unique needs of diverse clientele and providing them with the necessary tools and expertise to capitalize on this growth.
“We focus on providing our travel agency partners with the necessary tools and expertise to capitalise on this growth. Our strategic partnerships, like the one with Air India, showcase our commitment to aligning with local market needs.”
Facilitating digital transformation & enhancing customer experience
Sabre’s commitment to digital transformation is evident in its comprehensive suite of AI-powered microservices and automation tools designed to enhance customer success. Sam emphasises Sabre’s role in facilitating digital transformation within the travel sector in India, highlighting the importance of reducing manual work and enabling better business decision-making through advanced technology solutions.
“Through everything we’ve been talking about! It’s about bringing our technological transformation and our customer-centric approach together with our advanced solutions and our deep expertise in the market. It’s through working with our technology partners and our travel partners across the entire travel ecosystem. We’re proud to sit at the beating heart of the travel ecosystem and we take that responsibility very seriously, giving us countless opportunities to create positive momentum not just for Sabre but for our customers and their travellers,” he said.
Growth plans for 2024 and beyond
Machado feels that 2024 is a pivotal year for technological transformation at Sabre. “This will be the year we fully complete our move to the Cloud. We’re on schedule and right on the cusp of being completely migrated to the Google Cloud. We went into that tech transformation to deliver all sorts of benefits and capabilities for Sabre and the travel industry at large – to reduce costs, unlock greater efficiencies and capabilities, and enhance our ability to deliver transformative products and services at speed for the wider travel ecosystem,” he mentioned.
He further added that the company now have 100 per cent of Sabre agency and airline shopping in the Cloud, which is giving them greater scalability to meet the needs of their regional and global partners. “Our data scientists, engineers and travel technology experts from Sabre and Google are working together every day and our team in Bangalore has been involved in regular hackathons and tech talks to solve real-life challenges and provide platforms to share ideas as we work together to reshape the future of travel.”
This year, Sabre in India will be working with their customers to support its own digital transformation. The company has a range of products and solutions, including booking tools, APIs and automation products, that significantly reduce manual work and allow agents to operate online and from mobile devices, allowing them to service customers better and in more ways.
“We anticipate greater and greater demand for these products as agencies transform from traditional to hybrid models. In the years to come, we expect to see more and more unique content offerings that will provide opportunities for growth, but also complexity in adoption. Fortunately, with Sabre Red 360 and our unique marketplace, Sabre is best positioned to solve for this complexity and ensure our customers continue to have access to the widest breadth of content and seamless workflow,” Machado further said while talking about strategic vision for the Indian market.
How can Sabre support travel agencies?
While answering the question on agencies’ perspective on harnessing growth potential of the tourism industry and how Sabre can support travel agencies in adopting to the evolving needs of the market, Machado said agencies need to ensure they have the right technology to compete in the complex travel landscape of today and tomorrow, and what is vital is that they start from the back to the front.
“They need to start with what they want to achieve so we can help them get there. They need to be thinking about both automation and innovation. It’s vital they can increase efficiencies by replacing repetitive, manual tasks with automation, which is why we’re seeing such interest in our Automation Hub and TicketExpress, and Automated Exchanges and Automated Refunds. By reducing time spent on back-end tasks, agencies can focus more on their customers and future business strategy,” he suggested.
Agencies also need to ensure they aren’t passive bystanders in the new world of offer-and-order. The travel industry is on the brink of a seismic shift, driven by tech innovation and a new wave of consumer demand. So, for travel agencies looking to up their game, the time for introspection is now. Modern travel retailing is not just about selling flight tickets from Point A to Point B, but about improving the entire journey from dreaming about a trip to landing back home. Airlines are already adopting a model of offers and orders in which NDC lets airlines offer personalized bundles.
Message to industry stakeholders
Sharing a message of collaboration, innovation, and shared success to industry stakeholders, clients, and partners, Machado expressed his excitement about the journey ahead and reaffirmed Sabre’s commitment to driving innovation and contributing to the growth and success of the travel industry in India and South Asia.
“With collaboration and innovation, we can navigate the evolving landscape, unlock new possibilities, and reshape the future of travel in India and South Asia. I’m so excited about the journey ahead and look forward to working closely with all of our stakeholders to achieve our collective goals. Together, we can navigate the evolving landscape, unlock new possibilities, and reshape the future of travel in India and South Asia,” he concluded.