With more than 18,000 U.S. and 41,000 worldwide travel agencies already hooked up to its computer reservations systems, Sabre Holdings Corp. launched its own business-to-business marketplace geared toward those agencies.
Suppliers including Office Depot Inc., Staples Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc. and Flowers Online Inc. will offer goods and services through the network. By the middle of next month, every Sabre-connected U.S. agency will be offered access to the marketplace through its Sabre home pages.
The network, which launched last week, will be powered by Mountain View, Calif.-based Ariba Inc.'s B2B Commerce Platfom.
Tom Woods, vice president of Sabre Marketplace, said his company will offer office-supply services to a relatively untapped market.
"We found a very small percentage of these agencies were using B-to-B marketplaces," Woods said. "We struck a deal with Ariba in March. We think we give them a natural outlet and a targeted market."
Woods said he expects the first offering to achieve 25 percent penetration in the U.S. market. An international launch will follow later this year.
"We'll also be launching for small-to-midsized airlines in September," Woods said.
Dallas-based Canyon Creek Travel Inc., which has 55 employees and US$75 million in annual sales, is one of the first agencies to try the network. Company president Randy Limbacher said he had been interested in entering this kind of market.
"It's more a convenience factor," he said. "I don't see any price difference.
It's the same prices I could get from a catalog. . . . I just don't have to do as much shopping."
The agencies will be offered access to the marketplace at no charge. Woods said Sabre, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has negotiated revenue-sharing agreements with the suppliers.
Sabre also plans to offer the marketplace to travel agencies plugged into rival reservation systems from Galileo International Inc., Amadeus Global Travel Distribution SA and Worldspan L.P.
"This is a natural extension of our business," Woods said. "We were a business-to-business technology company 20 years ago, before all this Web stuff happened, and that's what we're doing here."