Sabre Travel Network versus Travelport: Who Knows What About Being Social?

A Cautionary Tale

I’m about to offer you two bits of information. One is probably something you learned a long time ago. The second bit is news, a comparative of two major companies, in a way. Sabre Travel Network and Travelport are two huge online travel players, and dogged competitors mind you. What occurred yesterday, I think you will find interesting, if not downright funny – even ridiculous.

Origins of News, Fluffy PR Goofs, and Arrogance?

ITB in Berlin is the world’s biggest travel trade show. Stories that arise out of that conference, usually things worth covering, things people at both ends of the B2B and B2C market should know about, and then there are “fluff” stories. You know, products or services some corporate genius decided to hype a bit, which should have been refined some more before the horns went off.

Well Sabre Travel Network released a German version of hosted social platform AgentStream just for ITB Berlin. Laid on top of Sabre’s proprietary Cubeless product, AgentStream is designed for the “brick and mortar” travel agent primarily. Sabre has some 200,000 in their network worldwide (remember that number), who probably should start migrating thought to digital, but that’s another story.  I ran the story about this, off of a Tnooz report.

AgentStream’s landing page. Note the fields where agents are separated from us “outside influencers” – woe be it for Sabre Group if a Michael Arrington, Richard MacManus, or Pete Cashmore ventured in this port.


As you can tell by the title, “Sabre Launches AgentStream Germany With Resounding Thump” my analysis of the product was not complimentary. The gist of the scathing report was, “A company with Sabre’s resources should never have a far more refined product after three years.” However, just a few dead links and a mediocre landing, is only the tip of the iceberg. What’s was inside, and the B2B interactive to come, is the real story. Bear with me, it is circuitous.

Not 49 minutes after my article went live, Sabre’s Social & Community Product Marketing Manager,  Sarah Kennedy Ellis (a lady who speaks before PhoCusWright conferences) , was making in depth comments  – even adding me on Twitter (and tweeting my exclusion below  –  I felt unworthy). How’s that for wired? The track taken, the insinuation, and ultimately the quality of the engagement B2B and B2C wise, went way South. What should have been an opportunity for AgentStream to gain feedback and make progress, turned into a ham handed segue into more corporate dogma and hype?

The image below is self explanatory. However, Sabre did not take into account an old beta tester would stay logged in. Opps.


Ellis tossed out the numbers, the defense posture, the techno mumbo jumbo, of product manager blathering – the warning siren “BS is headed your way.” A barrage of pseudo intellectual jibber jabber ensued, in comments and on Twitter, and just my “mention” of competitor Travelport’s Opinion platform? Fuel for another rant of directed angst toward our readers (you guys). Here is an excerpt.

“I’m actually quite glad you brought up many of the points you refer to in your post so they can be addressed. Regarding AgentStream being the “largest travel agent community in the world” – simply put, based on the facts, it is.

The term that seems to continue to be “fudged” in reality is what defines a “travel professional” related to these private communities where travel agents are told they can securely exchange information between other agents.

Phil Butler
Phil Butler is theEditor at Everything PR, Argophilia Travel News,  and Senior Partner at Pamil Visions PR. He’s a widely cited authority on beta startups, search engines and public relations issues, and he has covered tech news since 2004. Phil wrote in the past for ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, Profy, SitePoint, Search Engine Journal, AltSearchEngines. Follow Phil on Twitter or send him an email at phil [at] pamil-visions [dot] com.
Phil Butler

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10 thoughts on “Sabre Travel Network versus Travelport: Who Knows What About Being Social?

  1. Phil, I disagree with a number of the misrepresentations and false statements included in your post, and would be happy to clarify any of those with you or anyone else who is interested in actually speaking with me – as I have offered to you personally now three times – to provide a live demo of the platform and answer any related questions at

    I also find it unfortunate that you have resorted to a personal attack of me as a part of your analysis, but hopefully those who have interacted with me in a professional setting including via social media channels would disagree.

    Cheers and best of luck to you in the future.

    1. Looks like you didn’t treat him as an “internet celebrity” and he took it really personal.
      I can only see anger in his article. It’s not about Travel Port or Sabre Travel Network… it’s all about him.

      As a former travel agent, I agree in having a “gated community” as he calls it to discuss things relevant to our business. There are many things that are not aimed for the end user.

      Don’t worry Sarah, this is his personal vendetta, and we can all notice that clearly.

  2. Sarah, you are very young, and you probably really don’t get what you did wrong in your communication with Phil, or in representing your company all together.

  3. Why is this even there on SEJ? After reading halfway (apparently in an attempt to learn something useful about SEO, travel etc), I decided this looked more like a grouse letter by a harmed kid. Maybe this appeals to ‘regular’ readers, but in no way do I find it worthwhile enough for a complete article.