Sabre making moves in trip-management arena

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*logoSabre is getting very active in mobile trip management and social networking, joining players such as TripIt and the recently launched Traxo.com in vying for the allegiances of travelers who want to consolidate trip details and share them with friends and colleagues.

Sabre announced Sept. 1 that TripCase, a mobile product developed by Sabre Travel Studios, a Sabre Holdings division, is now available for download on BlackBerry devices.

The application, with its TripLog feature, is described as a "sharing service that keeps you and others up to date while you're traveling by streaming information to and from your trip." It was already available for download on Apple iPhones and is slated to be ready in the fall for Windows Mobile.

Sabre Travel Studios was formed in 2006 as an offshoot of Sabre Labs, with the mission of diversifying Sabre’s revenue streams.

Sabre Travel Studios’ launch of TripCase and Cubeless, an internal social networking platform for corporations, may have led to a key Sabre personnel change on TripIt’s board of directors. Sabre is a minority investor in TripIt.

The board position initially had been held by John Samuel, senior vice president of Sabre Travel Studios. But his dual role as Sabre Travel Studios exec and TripIt board member may have become a tad uncomfortable: He has been replaced on the TripIt board by Chris Kroeger, the president of Sabre GetThere and a senior vice president in charge of Sabre Travel Network’s global travel management company customers.

Kroeger replaced Samuel in January but the change wasn't made public until now.

Sabre doesn’t characterize the change as a conflict between Samuel’s hands-on role with TripCase and Sabre’s investment in TripIt, which evidently is a competing product.

Instead, Sabre spokesman Michael Brophy said that given Kroeger’s "day-to-day interaction with both corporate and agency clients, it made the most sense for him to be the Sabre exec represented on the TripIt board."

Kroeger joins Mark Jacobsen from O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures and John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, as the outside board members on the TripIt panel.

Sabre’s changing of the guard makes some sense from the perspective that Kroeger’s role is in corporate travel and TripIt has positioned itself in part as a corporate solution, having recently partnered with BCD Travel to enable clients to use TripIt to share their business travel experiences with co-workers and colleagues.

Meanwhile, Traxo, which recently launched in beta, will attempt to differentiate itself from TripIt with a bit more of a leisure-travel focus and added emphasis on social media functionality as part of the trip-planning process.

In any case, it seems that the overlap between Sabre Travel Studios’ TripCase and Sabre’s investment and governance role in TripIt spurred Sabre into rethinking its trip-management product strategy and made the TripIt boardroom a bit too claustrophobic for Samuel.

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