The Sabre Global Distribution System

» Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

During my many years as an employee in our travel office, I have conducted many training sessions for our various government agency customers.  The reservations section within our electronic travel system (ETS) is by far one of the most ‘inquired about’ sections during my training sessions.  The reservations section within our travel system houses the capability for users to book their hotel, rental car, rail and airfare via the Sabre Global Distribution System (GDS).

The Sabre GDS allows access to government negotiated rates, policy compliance at the point of sale, and automation of reservations and ticketing, which improves the efficiency of the overall government travel booking process.  The Sabre GDS provides access to preferred government rates such as CONUS and OCONUS rates for lodging and transportation; rates from government approved airline contractors/vendors; GOV and FPLP hotel rates; and access to rail including Amtrak rates.

When searching for an airline ticket within our ETS reservations module, Round Trip is the default (Multi-Destination is the default if more than one TDY location is listed in the itinerary). In our ETS, travelers have the option of changing the search criteria to One Way and they have the option of adjusting the search time according to their travel plans.  The user then enters the departure and arrival airport codes (if known) or the user can enter the city names in both of the fields as well.  The user may also select the option of searching nearby airports to view nearest airport to your arrival city.  The user would then search flights, price flights, and save their flights.  If air reservations are or are not successfully booked, the user receives an immediate notification of status.  If reservations were booked successfully, they also receive an email notification containing their air itinerary.

When searching for lodging reservations within our ETS, the Check-In and Check-Out date’s default based on the dates that were entered in the itinerary.  The default search option is Near a TDY location and will search for all available lodging near the TDY location that has been selected in the itinerary. Additionally, in our ETS, users have the options of searching by airport name, near a city, or near an airport, or by zip code.  Users also have the capability of searching within a particular radius of the airport (up to 99 miles) or zip code.  After clicking search for hotel, the system pulls all current available hotel inventories to be selected from.  Once a property of interest is found, the user may click on hotel info and pricing to get the specific details of that property such as price, room types, and Fedrooms participant information.  Once the user finds an available property within the applicable per diem, the user would select and save the accommodations.

When searching for a rental car, our ETS defaults the pick-up and drop off dates/times.  The airport code also defaults, however, it is an editable field.  The car class of ‘economy’ defaults in the system. The user would then click search to search for available rental car vendors.  Once the system has populated the list of rental car vendors, the user would make a selection from the list of vendors available.  Once the user verifies the class, pick up and drop off times, the final step would be to save the rental car.  During my training sessions, I always remind the trainees that while the system will provide a total rental car price, as everyone knows, by the time a rental vehicle is returned there can be quite a few extra expenses added to the final bill.  Therefore, it is very important that users verify and update if needed their total rental car expenses once they begin updating their final travel voucher.

When booking train fare, it is important to remember that the Federal Government does not have contract train fares established with Amtrak.  Therefore, there can be exceptions granted and some agencies may incorporate their own policy, allowing their travelers to contact Amtrak directly to book their reservations.  However, some agencies may allow the use of the ETS for their travelers to book their Amtrak reservations.  Any online rail reservations made via our ETS are charged the touched (agent-assisted) transaction fee as there is a manual intervention by the TMC to process train fare reservations.  If the ETS is used, users enter the departure and arrival airport codes (if known) or the user may enter the city names in both of the fields as well. Once the available train fares are displayed, the user would click on their selection.

Our ETS also has the capability for users to manually record the costs of airfare, lodging, rental car, or train fare.  However, this option should only be used for additional costs or unique cases whereby the system could not be used to book the reservations.

Our ETS in conjunction with the Sabre Global Distribution System provides Government travelers with a very powerful and economical reservation tool.  Using the GDS enables users to search for and reserve airfare, lodging, rental car, and train fare in a very fast and efficient manner.

by Brian Shears

The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.

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