Planet SABRE Air-Travel Booking
Aaron Marcus, John Armitage, Volker Frank, and Edward Guttman
Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc., 1144 65th Street, Suite F, Emeryville, CA
94608-1053 USA; Tel:+1-510-601-0994x19, Fax:+1-510-547-6125
Email: Aaron@AmandA.com, Web: http://www.AMandA.com.
During 1994-99, Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc., (AM+A) worked closely with SABRE Travel Information Network (SABRE), providers of one of the world's largest private extranets, to develop an innovative user interface and information visualization (UI+IV) for Planet SABRETM, which is used by travel agents world-wide (in six languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian). Approximately one third of the world's travel agents access the 42 terabytes in SABRE's databases of information about air travel, hotels, and auto rentals on 125,000 terminals. The system receives up to one billion "hits" per day, and generates approximately US$1 billion dollars per year in sales. SABRE is a twenty-year-old example of a very successful transaction system within e-commerce. Challenges and accomplishments in this longduration, large-scale development effort of UI+IV design provide important lessons for development of applications for Web-based e-commerce. This paper reviews designing the UI+IV specifically for the primary module or application of the system, air travel booking, in 1998-99, for a user community whose characteristics and tasks were generally well-understood based on previous years of project experience and user evaluation..
Developing a UI for a system enabling access, search, retrieval, and rapid decision making about competing elements of knowledge typically has these steps: planning, research, analysis, design, implementation, evaluation, documentation, and training. Development is cyclical and may be partially repetitive. For example, evaluation may be carried out prior to, during, or after the design step. For specific users (defined by their demographics, experience, education, and roles in organizations of work or play) and their tasks, user interfaces must provide these components: Metaphors are essential concepts