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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Sabre Corporation
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware001-3642220-8647322
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Commission File Number)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
3150 Sabre Drive
Southlake, TX 76092
(Address, including zip code, of principal executive offices)
(682) 605-1000
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Common Stock, $0.01 par valueSABRThe NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
6.50% Series A Mandatory Convertible Preferred StockSABRPThe NASDAQ Stock Market LLC
(Title of class)(Trading symbol)(Name of exchange on which registered)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes     No  
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes    No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes    No 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes    No 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” "smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.    Yes     No 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes     No  
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates, as of June 30, 2020, was $2,217,426,344. As of February 22, 2021, there were 317,327,863 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to its 2021 annual meeting of stockholders to be held on April 28, 2021, are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.




Table of Contents
 
  Page
  
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
 
  
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
   
  
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
   
  
Item 15.
Item 16.




FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7, contains information that may constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements relate to expectations, beliefs, projections, future plans and strategies, anticipated events or trends and similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts, such as statements regarding our future financial condition or results of operations, our prospects and strategies for future growth, the development and introduction of new products, and the implementation of our strategies. In many cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “expects,” "believes," "will," "intends," "outlook," "provisional," “may,” “predicts,” “potential,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” "should,” “plans” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. The forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations and assumptions regarding our business, the economy and other future conditions and are subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances that may cause events or our actual activities or results to differ significantly from those expressed in any forward-looking statement. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future events, results, actions, levels of activity, performance or achievements. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Unless required by law, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect circumstances or events after the date they are made. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, those factors described in Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors,” in Part I, Item 7 “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Factors Affecting Our Results” and elsewhere in this Annual Report.
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, references to “Sabre,” the “Company,” “we,” “our,” “ours” and “us” refer to Sabre Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires.
PART I
ITEM 1.        BUSINESS
Overview
Sabre Corporation is a Delaware corporation formed in December 2006. On March 30, 2007, Sabre Corporation acquired Sabre Holdings Corporation (“Sabre Holdings”), which is the sole subsidiary of Sabre Corporation. Sabre GLBL Inc. (“Sabre GLBL”) is the principal operating subsidiary and sole direct subsidiary of Sabre Holdings. Sabre GLBL or its direct or indirect subsidiaries conduct all of our businesses. Our principal executive offices are located at 3150 Sabre Drive, Southlake, Texas 76092.
At Sabre, we make travel happen. We are a software and technology company that powers the global travel industry. We partner with airlines, hoteliers, agencies and other travel partners to retail, distribute and fulfill travel. We connect the world’s leading travel suppliers, including airlines, hotels, car rental brands, rail carriers, cruise lines and tour operators, with travel buyers in a comprehensive travel marketplace. We also offer travel suppliers an extensive suite of leading software solutions, ranging from airline and hotel reservations systems to high-value marketing and operations solutions, such as planning airline crew schedules, re-accommodating passengers during irregular flight operations and managing day-to-day hotel operations. We are committed to helping customers operate more efficiently, drive revenue and offer personalized traveler experiences with next-generation technology solutions.
COVID-19 Pandemic
During 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has caused, and continues to cause, a severe global health crisis resulting in societal disruptions leading to economic downturn and uncertainties. The travel industry continues to be adversely affected by the global health crisis due to the outbreak of COVID-19, as well as by government directives that have been enacted to slow the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shifts in the travel ecosystem resulting in the changing needs of our airline, hotel and agency customers. This pandemic had a material impact to our consolidated financial results for the year ended December 31, 2020, resulting in a material decrease in transaction-based revenue across both of our business units compared to the prior year. Lower global distribution system ("GDS") volumes resulted in a material decline in incentive consideration costs for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the prior year.
The reduction in revenues as a result of COVID-19 significantly and adversely affected our liquidity. During 2020, we responded with measures such as suspending common stock dividends and share repurchases, borrowing under our existing revolving credit facility, and completing debt and equity offerings. Additionally, given the market conditions as the result of COVID-19, we responded with cost savings measures during 2020, including the reduction of our workforce through voluntary severance and early retirement programs and a right-sizing of our global organization. We believe the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on our operations and global bookings will continue to have a material negative impact on our financial results and liquidity, and this negative impact may continue well beyond the containment of the outbreak. We believe that we have resources to sufficiently fund our liquidity requirements for at least the next twelve months; however, given the magnitude of travel decline and the unknown duration of the impact of COVID-19, we will continue to monitor our liquidity levels and take additional steps should we determine they are necessary or appropriate.
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Business Segments and Products
As discussed above, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shifts in the travel ecosystem resulting in the changing needs of our airline, hotel and agency customers. As a result, during 2020, we accelerated the organizational changes we began in 2018 to address the changing travel landscape through a strategic realignment (the "Strategic Realignment") of our airline and agency-focused businesses and to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and cost structure. The organizational changes involve the creation of a functional-oriented structure to further enhance our long-term growth opportunities and help deliver new retailing, distribution and fulfillment solutions to the travel marketplace. As a result of our Strategic Realignment, we now operate our business and present our results through two business segments, effective the third quarter of 2020: (i) Travel Solutions, our global travel solutions for travel suppliers and travel buyers, including a broad portfolio of software technology products and solutions for airlines, and (ii) Hospitality Solutions, an extensive suite of leading software solutions for hoteliers. All revenue and expenses previously assigned to the Travel Network and Airline Solutions business segments have been consolidated into a unified revenue and expense structure now reported as the Travel Solutions business segment. The historical results of the Hospitality Solutions reporting segment have not changed. Financial information about our business segments and geographic areas is provided in Note 18. Segment Information, to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8 in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Travel Solutions
Our Travel Solutions business provides global travel solutions for travel suppliers and travel buyers through a business-to-business travel marketplace consisting of our GDS and a broad set of solutions that integrate with our GDS to add value for travel suppliers and travel buyers. Our GDS facilitates travel by efficiently bringing together travel content such as inventory, prices and availability from a broad array of travel suppliers, including airlines, hotels, car rental brands, rail carriers, cruise lines and tour operators, with a large network of travel buyers, including online travel agencies (“OTAs”), offline travel agencies, travel management companies (“TMCs”), and corporate travel departments.
Additionally, our Travel Solutions business offers a broad portfolio of software technology products and solutions, through software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) and hosted delivery model, to airlines and other travel suppliers and provides industry-leading and comprehensive software solutions that help our customers better market, sell, serve and operate. Our product offerings include reservation systems for full-cost and low-cost carriers, commercial and operations products, agency solutions and data-driven intelligence solutions. Our reservation systems bring together intelligent decision support solutions that enable end-to-end retailing, distribution and fulfillment, and drive operational effectiveness through holistic planning and management of airline, airport and customer operations. Our commercial and operations products offer services to our customers to enable them to better use our products and help optimize their commercial and operations platforms.
Hospitality Solutions
Our Hospitality Solutions business provides software and solutions, through SaaS and hosted delivery models, to hoteliers around the world. Our SaaS solutions empower hotels and hotel chains to manage pricing, reservations, and retail offerings across thousands of distribution channels while improving guest experience throughout the traveler journey. We serve over 42,000 properties in 180 countries.
Growth Strategy
We connect people and places with technology that reimagines the business of travel. The key elements of our growth strategy include:
Developing innovative technology products through investment of significant resources in next-generation technology solutions that include delivering retailing intelligence to enable personalized traveler experiences in our marketplace and by travel suppliers, evolving the distribution of travel content including the integration of new distribution capability (“NDC”) content into our GDS, expanding our hospitality technology offerings including through our property management system ("PMS"), and continuing to address key customer needs in the areas of retailing, distribution, and fulfillment of travel and related products.
Transforming the security, stability, and health of our technology by leveraging maneuverability to enhance agility and modernize infrastructure at a global scale, with the goal of connecting people to experiences that enrich their lives.
Pursuing new customers across all of our product offerings, including customers seeking distribution of content, new agency relationships, as well as corporations representing buyers of content.
Strengthening relationships with existing customers, including promoting the adoption of our products within and across our existing customers, to help enable them to operate more efficiently, drive revenue, and spur innovation with next-generation technology solutions.
Technology and Operations
Our technology strategy is based on achieving company-wide stability, reliability and performance at the most efficient price point while continuing to innovate and create value for our customers. Significant investment has gone into building a centralized Platform as a Service ("PaaS") architecture with an emphasis on standardization, simplicity, security and scalability. We invest heavily in software development, delivery and operational support capabilities and strive to provide best in class
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products for our customers. We operate standardized infrastructure in our data center environments across hardware, operating systems, databases, and other key enabling technologies to minimize costs on non-differentiators. We expect to continue to make significant investments in our information technology infrastructure to modernize our architecture, drive efficiency and quality in development, lower recurring technology costs, further enhance the stability and security of our network, comply with data privacy and accessibility regulations, and enable our shift to service enabled and cloud-based solutions. For this reason, we have included Technology costs as a separate category of cost within our consolidated financial statements and notes contained in Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our architecture has evolved from a mainframe centric transaction processing environment to a secure processing platform that is one of the world’s most heavily used and resilient service-oriented architecture (“SOA”) environments. A variety of products and services run on this technology infrastructure: high volume air shopping systems; desktop access applications providing continuous, real-time data access to travel agents; airline operations and decision support systems; an array of customized applications available through our Sabre Red 360 application; and web based services that provide an automated interface between us and our travel suppliers and customers. The flexibility and scale of our standardized SOA based technology infrastructure allow us to quickly deliver a broad variety of SaaS and hosted solutions.
Customers
Travel Solutions customers consist of travel suppliers, including airlines, hotels and other lodging providers, car rental brands, rail carriers, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions and services; a large network of travel buyers, including OTAs, offline travel agencies, TMCs and corporate travel departments; and airports, corporate aviation fleets, governments and tourism boards. Airlines served by Travel Solutions vary in size and are located in every region of the world, and include hybrid carriers and low-cost carriers ("LCCs") (collectively, “LCC/hybrids”), global network carriers and regional network carriers. Hospitality Solutions has a global customer base of over 42,000 hotel properties of all sizes.
Sources of Revenue
Transactions—Our Travel Solutions business generates distribution revenue for bookings made through our GDS (e.g., air, car and hotel bookings) and through our partners and generally we are paid directly by the travel supplier. A transaction occurs when a travel agency or corporate travel department books or reserves a travel supplier’s product on our GDS, for which we receive a fee. Transaction fees include, but are not limited to, transaction fees paid by travel suppliers for selling their inventory through our GDS and fees paid by travel agency subscribers related to their use of certain solutions integrated with our GDS. We receive revenue from the travel supplier and the travel agency according to the commercial arrangement with each.
SaaS and Hosted—We generate Travel Solutions' IT Solutions revenue and Hospitality Solutions revenue through upfront solution fees and recurring usage-based fees for the use of our software solutions hosted on secure platforms or deployed via SaaS. We maintain our SaaS and hosted software and manage the related infrastructure with the assistance of third-party providers. We collect the implementation fees and recurring usage-based fees pursuant to contracts with terms that typically range between three and ten years and generally include minimum annual volume requirements.
Software Licensing—We generate Travel Solutions' IT Solutions revenue from fees for the installation and use of our software products on premise. Some contracts under this model generate additional revenue for the maintenance of the software product.
Professional Service Fees—We generate Travel Solutions' IT Solutions revenue and Hospitality Solutions revenue through offerings that utilize the SaaS and hosted revenue model which are sometimes sold as part of multiple performance obligation arrangements for which we also provide professional services, including consulting services. Our professional services are primarily focused on helping customers achieve better utilization of and return on their software investment. Often, we provide these services during the implementation phase of our SaaS solutions.
Media—We generate Travel Solutions' IT Solutions revenue from customers that advertise products and purchase preferred placement on our GDS. Additionally, Hospitality Solutions generates revenue from customers that advertise products on our CRS. Advertisers use two types of advertising metrics: (i) display advertising and (ii) action advertising. In display advertising, advertisers generally pay based on the number of customers who view the advertisement, and are charged based on cost-per-thousand impressions. In action advertising, advertisers generally pay based on the number of customers who perform a specific action, such as click on the advertisement, and are charged based on the cost per action. Customers can also purchase preferred placement on hotel shopping displays on travel agency terminals. Customers pay for preferential payment through a subscription fee which is based on the amount of revenue the customer generates through our GDS and geographical market of the customer’s property (designated by airport code).
Competition
We operate in highly competitive markets. Travel Solutions competes with several other regional and global travel marketplace providers, including other GDSs, local distribution systems and travel marketplace providers primarily owned by airlines or government entities, as well as with direct distribution by travel suppliers. In addition to other GDSs and direct distributors, there are a number of other competitors in the travel distribution marketplace, including new entrants in the travel space, that offer metasearch capabilities that direct shoppers to supplier websites and/or OTAs, third party aggregators and peer-to-peer options for travel services. Travel Solutions also competes with a variety of providers in a rapidly evolving marketplace
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which includes global and regional IT providers, various specialists in selected product areas, service providers and airlines that develop their own in-house technology. Hospitality Solutions operates in a dynamic marketplace that includes large global players, significant new entrants and hotels that develop their own in-house technology.
Intellectual Property
We use software, business processes and proprietary information to carry out our business. These assets and related intellectual property rights are significant assets of our business. We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark laws, confidentiality procedures, and contractual provisions to protect these assets and we license software and other intellectual property both to and from third parties. We may seek patent protection on technology, software and business processes relating to our business, and our software and related documentation may also be protected under trade secret and copyright laws where applicable. We may also benefit from both statutory and common law protection of our trademarks.
Although we rely heavily on our brands, associated trademarks, and domain names, we do not believe that our business is dependent on any single item of intellectual property, or that any single item of intellectual property is material to the operation of our business. However, since we consider trademarks to be a valuable asset of our business, we maintain our trademark portfolio throughout the world by filing trademark applications with the relevant trademark offices, renewing appropriate registrations and regularly monitoring potential infringement of our trademarks in certain key markets.
Government Regulation
We are subject to or affected by international, federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies, which are constantly subject to change. These laws, regulations and policies include regulations applicable to the GDS in the European Union (“EU”), Canada, the United States and other locations.
We are subject to the application of data protection and privacy regulations in many of the countries in which we operate, including the General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") in the EU and the California Consumer Protection Act ("CCPA"). See "Risk Factors —Our collection, processing, storage, use and transmission of personal data could give rise to liabilities as a result of governmental regulation, conflicting legal requirements, differing views on data privacy or security breaches. "
We are also subject to prohibitions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (the “OFAC rules”), which prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in financial transactions with or relating to the prohibited individual, entity or country, require the blocking of assets in which the individual, entity or country has an interest, and prohibit transfers of property subject to U.S. jurisdiction (including property in the possession or control of U.S. persons) to such individual, entity or country.
Our businesses may also be subject to legislation and regulations affecting issues such as: trade sanctions, exports of technology, antitrust, anticorruption, telecommunications and e-commerce. These regulations may vary among jurisdictions.
See “Risk Factors—Any failure to comply with regulations or any changes in such regulations governing our businesses could adversely affect us.”
Seasonality
Though the travel industry is typically seasonal in nature, seasonality has not significantly impacted our financial results for the year ended December 31, 2020 due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel industry. The COVID-19 pandemic severely depressed revenue and resulted in an unprecedented amount of cancellations in 2020. Historically, travel bookings, and the revenue we derive from those bookings were typically seasonally strong in the first and third quarters, but declined significantly each year in the fourth quarter, primarily in December. We recognize air-related revenue at the date of booking, and because, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, customers generally booked their November and December holiday leisure-related travel earlier in the year and business-related travel declined during the holiday season, revenue resulting from bookings was typically lower in the fourth quarter.
Human Capital
We maintain our SabreNext Strategic Framework that defines areas of focus for our culture and highlights how we enable our people to execute the plans and priorities for our technology, product, financial and customer strategies.
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Our People—The significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and operations has resulted in significant variances in our human capital metrics for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to prior years. We have not experienced any work stoppages and consider our relations with our employees to be good. As of December 31, 2020, we had 7,531 employees worldwide, consisting of the following:
No of Employees% of Total
United States2,40432 %
Europe1,90725 %
APAC2,03127 %
All Other (1)
1,18916 %
Total7,531100 %
(1) Includes Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.
Talent Acquisition, Development and Retention—Through our long operating history and experience with technological innovation, we appreciate the importance of retention, growth and development of our employees. We seek to set compensation at competitive levels that help enable us to hire, incentivize, and retain high-caliber employees. During 2020, we launched our Lead the Way program to support the virtual environment and cultivate talent. This program includes a leadership speaker series, leadership skills series and on-demand resources for all leaders, with a particular focus on first-time or first-level managers. Our formal and informal reward, recognition and acknowledgement programs encourage employees to recognize peers, teams and departments to honor their champions and help promote satisfaction and engagement. To assist in retaining key talent in the current highly volatile macro environment, we offer compensation programs to certain key employees, such as long-term performance-based cash incentive awards, performance-based restricted stock unit awards, time-based restricted stock unit awards, and other awards as appropriate. We monitor and evaluate various turnover and attrition metrics throughout our management teams.
Diversity and Inclusion—With 70 offices around the globe, we believe that diversity and inclusion are at the core of our success and that the different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and ideas of our employees are critical to spur innovation, drive growth and sustain competitive advantage in our industry. During 2020, a portion of our executive compensation was linked to our diversity and inclusion initiatives and we established an Inclusion and Diversity Council to help define a globally consistent approach to inclusion and diversity as a business imperative and an enabler of our SabreNext strategy.
Health and Wellness—The health and safety of our team members is of the utmost importance. In addition to core health and welfare benefits, our wellness program offers resources to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. During 2020, we extended certain assistance programs to continue to support the well-being of our team members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, to help ensure the safety and wellness of our employees going forward, we have expanded our parental leave program, enhanced our personal time off benefits, and we are in the process of implementing a work-from-anywhere program that will allow our employees additional flexibility in work arrangements and increased opportunities to work remotely.
Corporate Responsibility—We invest globally in our communities by encouraging employee volunteerism on company time. Our employees have donated a significant number of volunteer hours to support our community-oriented and philanthropic culture. Additionally, our Passport to Freedom program has helped fight human trafficking and has provided support to victims and survivors, through increasing awareness and education within the travel industry on human trafficking issues and advocating for legislative change where appropriate.
Available Information
We are subject to the informational requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and under these requirements, we file reports, proxy and information statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and other information to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available through the investor relations section of our website at investors.sabre.com. Reports are available free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file them with, or furnish them to, the SEC. The information contained on our website, Twitter account, and other social media channels is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We may use our website, our Twitter account (@Sabre_Corp) and other social media channels as additional means of disclosing information to the public. The information disclosed through those channels may be considered to be material and may not be otherwise disseminated by us, so we encourage investors to review our website, Twitter account and other social media channels. The contents of our website or social media channels referenced herein are not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
The following risk factors may be important to understanding any statement in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or elsewhere. Our business, financial condition and operating results can be affected by a number of factors, whether currently known or unknown, including but not limited to those described below. Any one or more of these factors could directly or indirectly cause our actual results of operations and financial condition to vary materially from past or anticipated future results of operations and financial condition. Any of these factors, in whole or in part, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and stock price.
Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, including our financial results and prospects, and the travel suppliers on whom our business relies.
The spread of COVID-19 and the recent developments surrounding the global pandemic are having significantly negative impacts on all aspects of our business. In response to the pandemic, many governments around the world are implementing a variety of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including travel restrictions and bans, instructions to residents to practice social distancing, quarantine advisories, shelter-in-place orders and required closures of non-essential businesses. These government mandates have had a significant negative impact on the travel industry and many of the travel suppliers on whom our business relies, including airlines and hotels, and forced many of them, including airlines, to pursue cost reduction measures and seek financing, including government financing and support, in order to reduce financial distress and continue operating, and to curtail drastically their service offerings. The pandemic has resulted and may continue to result in the restructuring or bankruptcy of certain of those travel suppliers, and renegotiation of the terms of our agreements with them. The pandemic and these measures have significantly adversely affected, and may further affect, consumer sentiment and discretionary spending patterns, economies and financial markets, and our workforce, operations and customers. See “—Our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions businesses depend on maintaining and renewing contracts with their customers and other counterparties.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic conditions and government orders have resulted in a material decrease in consumer spending and an unprecedented decline in transaction volumes in the global travel industry. Our financial results and prospects are largely dependent on these transaction volumes. Although it is impossible to accurately predict the ultimate impact of these developments on our business, our financial results for the year ended December 31, 2020 have been significantly and negatively impacted, with a material decline in total revenues, net income, cash flow from operations and Adjusted EBITDA as compared to 2019. This downward trend could continue for an unpredictable period. Due to the uncertain and rapidly evolving nature of current conditions around the world, we are unable to predict accurately the impact that COVID-19 will have on our business going forward. We expect the outbreak and its effects to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, financial condition and operating results for the duration of the pandemic and during the subsequent recovery from the pandemic, which could be an extended period of time.
The COVID-19 pandemic may result in potential impairments of goodwill, long-term investments and long-lived assets; increasing provisions for bad debt including risks associated with travel agencies ability to repay us for incentive fees associated with bookings that have now cancelled; and increases in cash outlays to refund travel service providers for cancelled bookings.
We did not record any material impairments in 2020; however, future changes in our expected cash flows or other factors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may cause our goodwill or other assets to be impaired, resulting in a non-cash charge. As we cannot predict the duration or scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, the negative financial impact to our consolidated financial statements of potential future impairments cannot be reasonably estimated, but could be material. In addition, given the volatility in global markets and the financial difficulties faced by many of our travel suppliers, we have increased our provisions for bad debt related to certain of our airline providers and, to a lesser extent, car rental providers and hoteliers. We are continuing to closely monitor positions with travel agencies, to identify situations in which cancelled bookings exceed new bookings, resulting in refunds due to us and creating possible additional bad debt exposure. Moreover, due to the high level of cancellations of existing bookings, we have incurred, and may continue to incur, higher than normal cash outlays to refund travel service providers for cancelled bookings. Any material increase in our provisions for bad debt, and any material increase in cash outlays to travel suppliers would have a corresponding effect on our results of operations, liquidity and related cash flows.
The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on our business and the impact on our results of operations is highly uncertain.
The extent of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on our business, results of operations, cash flows and growth prospects is highly uncertain and will ultimately depend on future developments. These include, but are not limited to, the severity, extent and duration of the global pandemic and its impact on the travel industry and consumer spending more broadly; actions taken by national, state and local governments to contain the disease or treat its impact, including travel restrictions and bans, required closures of non-essential businesses, vaccination levels and aid and economic stimulus efforts; the effect of the changes in hiring levels and remote working arrangements that we have implemented on our operations, including the health, productivity, retention, and morale of management and our employees, and our ability to maintain our financial reporting processes and related controls; the impact on the financial condition on our partners, and any potential restructurings or bankruptcies of our partners; the impact on our contracts with our partners, including force majeure provisions and requests to renegotiate the terms of existing agreements prior to their expiration, including providing temporary concessions regarding contractual minimums; our ability to withstand increased cyberattacks; the speed and extent of the recovery across the broader
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travel ecosystem; short- and long-term changes in travel patterns, including business travel; and the duration, timing and severity of the impact on customer spending, including the economic recession resulting from the pandemic. The pandemic may continue to expand in regions that have not yet been affected or have been minimally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak after conditions begin to recover in currently affected regions, which could continue to affect our business. Also, existing restrictions in affected areas could be extended after the virus has been contained in order to avoid relapses, and regions that recover from the outbreak may suffer from a relapse and re-imposition of restrictions. Governmental restrictions and societal norms with respect to travel may change permanently in ways that cannot be predicted and that can change the travel industry in a manner adverse to our business. Additionally, the potential failure of travel service providers and travel agencies (or acquisition of troubled travel service providers or travel agencies) may result in further consolidation of the industry, potentially affecting market dynamics for our services.
Our business is dependent on the ability of consumers to travel, particularly by air. We do not expect economic and operating conditions for our business to improve until consumers are once again willing and able to travel, and our travel suppliers are once again able to serve those consumers. This may not occur until well after the broader global economy begins to improve. Additionally, our business is also dependent on consumer sentiment and discretionary spending patterns. Significant increases in levels of unemployment in the United States and other regions have occurred and are expected to continue due to the adoption of social distancing and other policies to slow the spread of the virus, which have had and are likely to continue to have a negative impact on consumer discretionary spending, including for the travel industry. Even when economic and operating conditions for our business improve, we cannot predict the long-term effects of the pandemic on our business or the travel industry as a whole. If the travel industry is fundamentally changed by the COVID-19 outbreak in ways that are detrimental to our operating model, our business may continue to be adversely affected even as the broader global economy recovers.
To the extent that the COVID-19 outbreak continues to adversely affect our business and financial performance, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks identified in this “Risk Factors” section, such as those relating to our substantial amount of outstanding indebtedness.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Our revenue is highly dependent on transaction volumes in the global travel industry, particularly air travel transaction volumes.
Our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions revenue is largely tied to travel suppliers’ transaction volumes rather than to their unit pricing for an airplane ticket, hotel room or other travel products. This revenue is generally not contractually committed to recur annually under our agreements with our travel suppliers. As a result, our revenue is highly dependent on the global travel industry, particularly air travel from which we derive a substantial amount of our revenue, and directly correlates with global travel, tourism and transportation transaction volumes. Our revenue is therefore highly susceptible to declines in or disruptions to leisure and business travel that may be caused by factors entirely out of our control, and therefore may not recur if these declines or disruptions occur.
Various factors may cause temporary or sustained disruption to leisure and business travel. The impact these disruptions would have on our business depends on the magnitude and duration of such disruption. These factors include, among others: (1) general and local economic conditions; (2) financial instability of travel suppliers and the impact of any fundamental corporate changes to such travel suppliers, such as airline bankruptcies, consolidations, or suspensions of service on the cost and availability of travel content; (3) factors that affect demand for travel such as outbreaks of contagious diseases, including COVID-19, influenza, Zika, Ebola and the MERS virus, increases in fuel prices, government shutdowns, changing attitudes towards the environmental costs of travel, safety concerns and movements toward remote working environments; (4) political events like acts or threats of terrorism, hostilities, and war; (5) inclement weather, natural or man-made disasters; and (6) factors that affect supply of travel, such as travel restrictions, regulatory actions, aircraft groundings, or changes to regulations governing airlines and the travel industry, like government sanctions that do or would prohibit doing business with certain state-owned travel suppliers, work stoppages or labor unrest at any of the major airlines, hotels or airports. Sustained disruptions from COVID-19 have negatively impacted our business, and we expect these negative impacts to continue. See “—The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, including our financial results and prospects, and the travel suppliers on whom our business relies.”
Our Travel Solutions business is exposed to pricing pressure from travel suppliers.
Travel suppliers continue to look for ways to decrease their costs and to increase their control over distribution. For example, consolidation in the airline industry, the growth of LCC/hybrids and macroeconomic factors, among other things, have driven some airlines to negotiate for lower fees during contract renegotiations, thereby exerting increased pricing pressure on our Travel Solutions business, which, in turn, negatively affects our revenues and margins. In addition, travel suppliers’ use of multiple distribution channels may also adversely affect our contract renegotiations with these suppliers and negatively impact our revenue. For example, as we attempt to renegotiate new GDS agreements with our travel suppliers, they may withhold some or all of their content (fares and associated economic terms) for distribution exclusively through their direct distribution channels (for example, the relevant airline’s website) or offer travelers more attractive terms for content available through those direct channels after their contracts expire. As a result of these sources of negotiating pressure, we may have to decrease our prices to retain their business. If we are unable to renew our contracts with these travel suppliers on similar economic terms or at all, or if our ability to provide this content is similarly impeded, this would also adversely affect the value of our Travel Solutions business as a marketplace due to our more limited content.
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Our ability to recruit, train and retain employees, including our key executive officers and technical employees, is critical to our results of operations and future growth.
Our continued ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to recruit new employees and retain and motivate existing employees, particularly professionals with experience in our industry, information technology and systems, as well as our key executive officers. For example, the specialized skills we require can be difficult and time-consuming to acquire and are often in short supply. There is high demand and competition for well-qualified employees on a global basis, such as software engineers, developers and other technology professionals with specialized knowledge in software development, especially expertise in certain programming languages. This competition affects both our ability to retain key employees and to hire new ones. Similarly, uncertainty in the global political environment may adversely affect our ability to hire and retain key employees. Furthermore, the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on our business could adversely affect our ability to retain key employees and hire new employees. See “—The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, including our financial results and prospects, and the travel suppliers on whom our business relies.” Any of our employees may choose to terminate their employment with us at any time, and a lengthy period of time is required to hire and train replacement employees when such skilled individuals leave the company. Furthermore, changes in our employee population, including our executive team, could impact our results of operations and growth. For example, we have announced modifications to our business strategies and increased long-term investment in key areas, such as technology infrastructure, that may continue to have a negative impact in the short term due to expected increases in operating expenses and capital expenditures. If we fail to attract well-qualified employees or to retain or motivate existing employees, our business could be materially hindered by, for example, a delay in our ability to deliver products and services under contract, bring new products and services to market or respond swiftly to customer demands or new offerings from competitors.
Our travel supplier customers may experience financial instability or consolidation, pursue cost reductions, change their distribution model or undergo other changes.
We generate the majority of our revenue and accounts receivable from airlines. We also derive revenue from hotels, car rental brands, rail carriers, cruise lines, tour operators and other suppliers in the travel and tourism industries. Adverse changes in any of these relationships or the inability to enter into new relationships could negatively impact the demand for and competitiveness of our travel products and services. For example, a lack of liquidity in the capital markets or weak economic performance, including as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, may cause our travel suppliers to increase the time they take to pay, or to default, on their payment obligations, which could lead to a higher provision for expected credit losses and negatively affect our results. Any large-scale bankruptcy or other insolvency proceeding of an airline or hospitality supplier could subject our agreements with that customer to rejection or early termination, and, if applicable, result in asset impairments which could be significant. Similarly, any suspension or cessation of operations of an airline or hospitality supplier could negatively affect our results. Because we generally do not require security or collateral from our customers as a condition of sale, our revenues may be subject to credit risk more generally.
Furthermore, supplier consolidation, particularly in the airline industry, could harm our business. Our Travel Solutions business depends on a relatively small number of airlines for a substantial portion of its revenue, and all of our businesses are highly dependent on airline ticket volumes. Consolidation among airlines could result in the loss of an existing customer and the related fee revenue, decreased airline ticket volumes due to capacity restrictions implemented concurrently with the consolidation, and increased airline concentration and bargaining power to negotiate lower transaction fees. See "—Our Travel Solutions business is exposed to pricing pressure from travel suppliers."
We operate in highly competitive, evolving markets, and if we do not continue to innovate and evolve, our business operations and competitiveness may be harmed.
Travel technology is rapidly evolving as travel suppliers seek new or improved means of accessing their customers and increasing value. We must continue to innovate and evolve to respond to the changing needs of travel suppliers and meet intense competition. We face increasing competition as suppliers seek IT solutions that provide the same traveler experience across all channels of distribution, whether indirectly through the GDS or directly through other channels. As travel suppliers adopt innovative solutions that function across channels, our operating results could suffer if we do not foresee the need for new products or services to meet competition either for GDS or for other distribution IT solutions.
Adapting to new technological and marketplace developments may require substantial expenditures and lead time and we cannot guarantee that projected future increases in business volume will actually materialize. We may experience difficulties that could delay or prevent the successful development, marketing and implementation of enhancements, upgrades and additions. Moreover, we may fail to maintain, upgrade or introduce new products, services, technologies and systems as quickly as our competitors or in a cost-effective manner. For example, we must constantly update our GDS with new capabilities to adapt to the changing technological environment and customer needs. However, this process can be costly and time-consuming, and our efforts may not be successful as compared to our competitors. Those that we do develop may not achieve acceptance in the marketplace sufficient to generate material revenue or may be rendered obsolete or non-competitive by our competitors’ offerings.
In addition, our competitors are constantly evolving, including increasing their product and service offerings through organic research and development or through strategic acquisitions. As a result, we must continue to invest significant resources in research and development in order to continually improve the speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of our services and we may be required to make changes to our technology platforms or increase our investment in technology, increase marketing, adjust prices or business models and take other actions, which could affect our financial performance and liquidity.
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We depend upon the use of sophisticated information technology and systems. Our competitiveness and future results depend on our ability to maintain and make timely and cost-effective enhancements, upgrades and additions to our products, services, technologies and systems in response to new technological developments, industry standards and trends and customer requirements. As another example, migration of our enterprise applications and platforms to other hosting environments would cause us to incur substantial costs, and could result in instability and business interruptions, which could materially harm our business.
Implementation of software solutions often involves a significant commitment of resources, and any failure to deliver as promised on a significant implementation could adversely affect our business.
In our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions businesses, the implementation of software solutions often involves a significant commitment of resources and is subject to a number of significant risks over which we may or may not have control. These risks include:
the features of the implemented software may not meet the expectations or fit the business model of the customer;
our limited pool of trained experts for implementations cannot quickly and easily be augmented for complex implementation projects, such that resources issues, if not planned and managed effectively, could lead to costly project delays;
customer-specific factors, such as the stability, functionality, interconnection and scalability of the customer’s pre-existing information technology infrastructure, as well as financial or other circumstances could destabilize, delay or prevent the completion of the implementation process, which, for airline reservations systems, typically takes 12 to 18 months; and
customers and their partners may not fully or timely perform the actions required to be performed by them to ensure successful implementation, including measures we recommend to safeguard against technical and business risks.
As a result of these and other risks, some of our customers may incur large, unplanned costs in connection with the purchase and installation of our software products. Also, implementation projects could take longer than planned or fail. We may not be able to reduce or eliminate protracted installation or significant additional costs. Significant delays or unsuccessful customer implementation projects could result in cancellation or renegotiation of existing agreements, claims from customers, harm our reputation and negatively impact our operating results.
Our Travel Solutions business depends on relationships with travel buyers.
Our Travel Solutions business relies on relationships with several large travel buyers, including TMCs and OTAs, to generate a large portion of its revenue through bookings made by these travel companies. This revenue concentration in a relatively small number of travel buyers makes us particularly dependent on factors affecting those companies. For example, if demand for their services decreases, or if a key supplier pulls its content from us, travel buyers may stop utilizing our services or move all or some of their business to competitors or competing channels. Although our contracts with larger travel agencies often increase the incentive consideration when the travel agency processes a certain volume or percentage of its bookings through our GDS, travel buyers are not contractually required to book exclusively through our GDS during the contract term. Travel buyers may shift bookings to other distribution channels for many reasons, including to avoid becoming overly dependent on a single source of travel content or to increase their bargaining power with GDS providers. Additionally, some regulations allow travel buyers to terminate their contracts earlier.
These risks are exacerbated by increased consolidation among travel agencies and TMCs, including as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on the travel industry, which may ultimately reduce the pool of travel agencies that subscribe to GDSs. We must compete with other GDSs and other competitors for their business by offering competitive upfront incentive consideration, which, due to the strong bargaining power of these large travel buyers, tend to increase in each round of contract renewals. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Factors Affecting our Results—Increasing travel agency incentive consideration" for more information about our incentive consideration. However, any reduction in transaction fees from travel suppliers due to supplier consolidation or other market forces could limit our ability to increase incentive consideration to travel agencies in a cost-effective manner or otherwise affect our margins.
Our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions businesses depend on maintaining and renewing contracts with their customers and other counterparties.
In our Travel Solutions business, we enter into participating carrier distribution and services agreements with airlines. Our contracts with major carriers typically last for three- to five-year terms and are generally subject to automatic renewal at the end of the term, unless terminated by either party with the required advance notice. Our contracts with smaller airlines generally last for one year and are also subject to automatic renewal at the end of the term, unless terminated by either party with the required advance notice. Airlines are not typically contractually obligated to distribute exclusively through our GDS during the contract term and may terminate their agreements with us upon providing the required advance notice after the expiration of the initial term. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to renew our airline contracts in the future on favorable economic terms or at all. See “—Our Travel Solutions business is exposed to pricing pressure from travel suppliers."
We also enter into contracts with travel buyers. Although most of our travel buyer contracts have terms of one to three years, we typically have non-exclusive, five- to ten-year contracts with our major travel agency customers. We also typically have three- to five-year contracts with corporate travel departments, which generally renew automatically unless terminated with the required advance notice. A meaningful portion of our travel buyer agreements, typically representing approximately 15% to 20%
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of our bookings, are up for renewal in any given year. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to renew our travel buyer agreements in the future on favorable economic terms or at all. Similarly, our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions businesses are based on contracts with travel suppliers for a typical duration of three to seven years for airlines and one to five years for hotels, respectively. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to renew our solutions contracts in the future on favorable economic terms or at all. Additionally, we use several third-party distributor partners and equity method investments to extend our GDS services in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa ("EMEA") and Asia-Pacific ("APAC"). The termination of our contractual arrangements with any of these third-party distributor partners and equity method investments could adversely impact our Travel Solutions business in the relevant markets. See “—We rely on third-party distributor partners and equity method investments to extend our GDS services to certain regions, which exposes us to risks associated with lack of direct management control and potential conflicts of interest.” for more information on our relationships with our third-party distributor partners and equity method investments.
Our failure to renew some or all of these agreements on economically favorable terms or at all, or the early termination of these existing contracts, would adversely affect the value of our Travel Solutions business as a marketplace due to our limited content and distribution reach, which could cause some of our subscribers to move to a competing GDS or use other travel technology providers for the solutions we provide and would materially harm our business, reputation and brand. Our business therefore relies on our ability to renew our agreements with our travel buyers, travel suppliers, third-party distributor partners and equity method investments or developing relationships with new travel buyers and travel suppliers to offset any customer losses.
We are subject to a certain degree of revenue concentration among a portion of our customer base. Because of this concentration among a small number of customers, if an event were to adversely affect one of these customers, it could have a material impact on our business.
We are exposed to risks associated with PCI compliance.
The PCI Data Security Standard (“PCI DSS”) is a specific set of comprehensive security standards required by credit card brands for enhancing payment account data security, including but not limited to requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, and software design. PCI DSS compliance is required in order to maintain credit card processing services. The cost of compliance with PCI DSS is significant and may increase as the requirements change. We are tested periodically for assurance and successfully completed our last annual assessment in December 2020. Compliance does not guarantee a completely secure environment and notwithstanding the results of this assessment there can be no assurance that payment card brands will not request further compliance assessments or set forth additional requirements to maintain access to credit card processing services. See “—Security breaches could expose us to liability and damage our reputation and our business.” Compliance is an ongoing effort and the requirements evolve as new threats are identified. In the event that we were to lose PCI DSS compliance status (or fail to renew compliance under a future version of the PCI DSS), we could be exposed to increased operating costs, fines and penalties and, in extreme circumstances, may have our credit card processing privileges revoked, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our collection, processing, storage, use and transmission of personal data could give rise to liabilities as a result of governmental regulation, conflicting legal requirements, differing views on data privacy or security breaches.
We collect, process, store, use and transmit a large volume of personal data on a daily basis, including, for example, to process travel transactions for our customers and to deliver other travel-related products and services. Personal data is increasingly subject to legal and regulatory protections around the world, which vary widely in approach and which possibly conflict with one another. In recent years, for example, U.S. legislators and regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, as well as U.S. states, have increased their focus on protecting personal data by law and regulation, and have increased enforcement actions for violations of privacy and data protection requirements. The GDPR, a data protection law adopted by the European Commission, went into effect on May 25, 2018, the California Consumer Protection Act ("CCPA") went into effect on January 1, 2020, and the California Privacy Rights Act ("CPRA") is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023. These data protection laws and regulations are intended to protect the privacy and security of personal data, including credit card information that is collected, processed and transmitted in or from the relevant jurisdiction. Implementation of and compliance with these laws and regulations may be more costly or take longer than we anticipate, or could otherwise adversely affect our business operations, which could negatively impact our financial position or cash flows. Additionally, media coverage of data breaches has escalated, in part because of the increased number of enforcement actions, investigations and lawsuits. As this focus and attention on privacy and data protection increases, we also risk exposure to potential liabilities and costs or face reputational risks resulting from the compliance with, or any failure to comply with applicable legal requirements, conflicts among these legal requirements or differences in approaches to privacy and security of travel data. Furthermore, various countries, including Russia, have implemented legislation requiring the storage of travel or other personal data locally. Our business could be materially adversely affected by our inability, or the inability of our vendors who receive personal data from us, to comply with legal obligations regarding the use of personal data, new data handling or localization requirements that conflict with or negatively impact our business practices. In addition, our agreements with customers may also require that we indemnify the customer for liability arising from data breaches under the terms of our agreements with these customers. These indemnification obligations could be significant and may exceed the limits of any applicable insurance policy we maintain. See “—Security breaches could expose us to liability and damage our reputation and our business.
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We are involved in various legal proceedings which may cause us to incur significant fees, costs and expenses and may result in unfavorable outcomes.
We are involved in various legal proceedings that involve claims for substantial amounts of money or which involve how we conduct our business. See Note 17. Commitments and Contingencies, to our consolidated financial statements. For example, we are involved in antitrust litigation with US Airways. If we cannot resolve this matter favorably, we could be subject to monetary damages, including treble damages under the antitrust laws and payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs; depending on the amount of any such judgment, if we do not have sufficient cash on hand, we may be required to seek financing from private or public financing. Other parties might likewise seek to benefit from any unfavorable outcome by threatening to bring or actually bringing their own claims against us on the same or similar grounds or utilizing the litigation to seek more favorable contract terms.
In addition, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") blocked our proposed acquisition of Farelogix, and we have appealed the CMA's decision to the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal. We are also subject to a U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") antitrust investigation from 2011 relating to the pricing and conduct of the airline distribution industry. We, like other companies in the travel industry, received a civil investigation demand ("CID") from the DOJ and we are fully cooperating. Based on its findings in the investigation, the DOJ may (i) close the file, (ii) seek a consent decree to remedy issues it believes violate the antitrust laws, or (iii) file suit against us for violating the antitrust laws, seeking injunctive relief. In addition, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition ("EC") has opened an investigation to assess whether our and Amadeus’ respective agreements with airlines and travel agents may restrict competition in breach of E.U. antitrust rules. There is no legal deadline for the EC to bring an antitrust investigation to an end, and the duration of the investigation is unknown. Depending on the outcome of any of these matters, and the scope of the outcome, the manner in which our airline distribution business is operated could be affected and could potentially force changes to the existing airline distribution business model.
The defense of these actions, as well as any of the other actions described under Note 17. Commitments and Contingencies, to our consolidated financial statements or elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and any other actions brought against us in the future, is time consuming and diverts management’s attention. Even if we are ultimately successful in defending ourselves in such matters, we are likely to incur significant fees, costs and expenses as long as they are ongoing. Any of these consequences could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Any failure to comply with regulations or any changes in such regulations governing our businesses could adversely affect us.
Parts of our business operate in regulated industries and could be adversely affected by unfavorable changes in or the enactment of new laws, rules or regulations applicable to us, which could decrease demand for our products and services, increase costs or subject us to additional liabilities. Moreover, regulatory authorities have relatively broad discretion to grant, renew and revoke licenses and approvals and to implement or interpret regulations. Accordingly, these regulatory authorities could prevent or temporarily suspend us from carrying on some or all of our activities or otherwise penalize us if our practices were found not to comply with the applicable regulatory or licensing requirements or any interpretation of such requirements by the regulatory authority. In addition, we are subject to or affected by international, federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies, which are constantly subject to change. These include data protection and privacy legislation and regulations, as well as legislation and regulations affecting issues such as: trade sanctions, exports of technology, antitrust, anticorruption, telecommunications and e-commerce. Our failure to comply with any of these requirements, interpretations, legislation or regulations could have a material adverse effect on our operations.
Further, the United States has imposed economic sanctions, and could impose further sanctions in the future, that affect transactions with designated countries, including but not limited to, Cuba, Iran, Crimea region, North Korea and Syria, and nationals and others of those countries, and certain specifically targeted individuals and entities engaged in conduct detrimental to U.S. national security interests. These sanctions are administered by OFAC and are typically known as the OFAC regulations. These regulations are extensive and complex, and they differ from one sanctions regime to another. Failure to comply with these regulations could subject us to legal and reputational consequences, including civil and criminal penalties.
We have GDS contracts with carriers that fly to Cuba, Iran, Crimea region, North Korea and Syria but are based outside of those countries and are not owned by those governments or nationals of those governments. With respect to Iran, Sudan, North Korea and Syria we believe that our activities are designed to comply with certain information and travel-related exemptions. With respect to Cuba, we have advised OFAC that customers outside the United States we display on the Sabre GDS flight information for, and support booking and ticketing of, services of non-Cuban airlines that offer service to Cuba. Based on advice of counsel, we believe these activities to fall under an exemption from OFAC regulations applicable to the transmission of information and informational materials and transactions related thereto. We believe that our activities with respect to these countries are known to OFAC. We note, however, that OFAC regulations and related interpretive guidance are complex and subject to varying interpretations. Due to this complexity, OFAC’s interpretation of its own regulations and guidance vary on a case to case basis. As a result, we cannot provide any guarantees that OFAC will not challenge any of our activities in the future, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
In Europe, GDS regulations or interpretations thereof may increase our cost of doing business or lower our revenues, limit our ability to sell marketing data, impact relationships with travel buyers, airlines, rail carriers or others, impair the enforceability of existing agreements with travel buyers and other users of our system, prohibit or limit us from offering services or products, or limit our ability to establish or change fees. Although regulations specifically governing GDSs have been lifted in the United States, they remain subject to general regulation regarding unfair trade practices by the U.S. Department of Transportation
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(“DOT”). In addition, continued regulation of GDSs in the E.U. and elsewhere could also create the operational challenge of supporting different products, services and business practices to conform to the different regulatory regimes. We do not currently maintain a central database of all regulatory requirements affecting our worldwide operations and, as a result, the risk of non-compliance with the laws and regulations described above is heightened. Our failure to comply with these laws and regulations may subject us to fines, penalties and potential criminal violations. Any changes to these laws or regulations or any new laws or regulations may make it more difficult for us to operate our business.
We are exposed to risks associated with acquiring or divesting businesses or business operations.
We have acquired, and, as part of our growth strategy, may in the future acquire, businesses or business operations. We may not be able to identify suitable candidates for additional business combinations and strategic investments, obtain financing on acceptable terms for such transactions, obtain necessary regulatory approvals or otherwise consummate such transactions on acceptable terms, or at all. For example, we previously announced that we had entered into an agreement to acquire Farelogix, which was subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. On August 20, 2019, the DOJ filed a complaint in federal court in the District of Delaware, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Sabre from acquiring Farelogix. Although the trial court did not grant the DOJ's request, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted the DOJ's motion to vacate the judgment as moot, following the termination of the acquisition agreement as described below. In addition, the CMA has blocked our acquisition of Farelogix. We have appealed the CMA's decision to the U.K. Competition Appeal Tribunal. Sabre and Farelogix agreed to terminate the acquisition agreement on May 1, 2020 and we paid Farelogix aggregate termination fees of $21 million in the second quarter of 2020 pursuant to the acquisition agreement.
Any acquisitions that we are able to identify and complete may also involve a number of risks, including our inability to successfully or profitably integrate, operate, maintain and manage our newly acquired operations or employees; the diversion of our management’s attention from our existing business to integrate operations and personnel; possible material adverse effects on our results of operations during the integration process; becoming subject to contingent or other liabilities, including liabilities arising from events or conduct predating the acquisition that were not known to us at the time of the acquisition; and our possible inability to achieve the intended objectives of the acquisition, including the inability to achieve anticipated business or financial results, cost savings and synergies. Acquisitions may also have unanticipated tax, regulatory and accounting ramifications, including recording goodwill and nonamortizable intangible assets that are subject to impairment testing on a regular basis and potential periodic impairment charges and incurring amortization expenses related to certain intangible assets. To consummate any of these acquisitions, we may need to raise external funds through the sale of equity or the issuance of debt in the capital markets or through private placements, which may affect our liquidity and may dilute the value of our common stock. See "—We have a significant amount of indebtedness, which could adversely affect our cash flow and our ability to operate our business and to fulfill our obligations under our indebtedness."
We have also divested, and may in the future divest, businesses or business operations. Any divestitures may involve a number of risks, including the diversion of management’s attention, significant costs and expenses, the loss of customer relationships and cash flow, and the disruption of the affected business or business operations. Failure to timely complete or to consummate a divestiture may negatively affect the valuation of the affected business or business operations or result in restructuring charges.
We rely on the value of our brands, which may be damaged by a number of factors, some of which are out of our control.
We believe that maintaining and expanding our portfolio of product and service brands are important aspects of our efforts to attract and expand our customer base. Our brands may be negatively impacted by, among other things, unreliable service levels from third-party providers, customers’ inability to properly interface their applications with our technology, the loss or unauthorized disclosure of personal data, including payment card industry data ("PCI") or personally identifiable information ("PII"), or other bad publicity due to litigation, regulatory concerns or otherwise relating to our business. See “—Security breaches could expose us to liability and damage our reputation and our business.” Any inability to maintain or enhance awareness of our brands among our existing and target customers could negatively affect our current and future business prospects.
We rely on third-party distributor partners and equity method investments to extend our GDS services to certain regions, which exposes us to risks associated with lack of direct management control and potential conflicts of interest.
Our Travel Solutions business utilizes third-party distributor partners and equity method investments to extend our GDS services in EMEA and APAC. We work with these partners to establish and maintain commercial and customer service relationships with both travel suppliers and travel buyers. Since, in many cases, we do not exercise full management control over their day-to-day operations, the success of their marketing efforts and the quality of the services they provide are beyond our control. If these partners do not meet our standards for distribution, our reputation may suffer materially, and sales in those regions could decline significantly. Any interruption in these third-party services, deterioration in their performance or termination of our contractual arrangements with them could negatively impact our ability to extend our GDS services in the relevant markets. In addition, our business may be harmed due to potential conflicts of interest with our equity method investments.
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Risks Related to Technology and Intellectual Property
Our success depends on maintaining the integrity of our systems and infrastructure, which may suffer from failures, capacity constraints, business interruptions and forces outside of our control.
We may be unable to maintain and improve the efficiency, reliability and integrity of our systems. Unexpected increases in the volume of our business could exceed system capacity, resulting in service interruptions, outages and delays. These constraints can also lead to the deterioration of our services or impair our ability to process transactions. We occasionally experience system interruptions that make certain of our systems unavailable including, but not limited to, our GDS and the services that our Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions businesses provide to airlines and hotels. In addition, we have experienced in the past and may in the future occasionally experience system interruptions as we execute our technology strategy, including our cloud migration and mainframe offload activities. System interruptions prevent us from efficiently providing services to customers or other third parties, causing damage to our reputation and resulting in our losing customers and revenues or causing us to incur litigation and liabilities. Although we have contractually limited our liability for damages caused by outages of our GDS (other than damages caused by our gross negligence or willful misconduct), we cannot guarantee that we will not be subject to lawsuits or other claims for compensation from our customers in connection with such outages for which we may not be indemnified or compensated.
Our systems are also susceptible to external damage or disruption. Much of the computer and communications hardware upon which we depend is located across multiple data center facilities in a single geographic region. Our systems have in the past been and in the future could be damaged or disrupted by events such as power, hardware, software or telecommunication failures, human errors, natural events including floods, hurricanes, fires, winter storms, earthquakes and tornadoes, terrorism, break-ins, hostilities, war or similar events. Computer viruses, malware, denial of service attacks, attacks on hardware or software vulnerabilities, physical or electronic break-ins, cybersecurity incidents or other security breaches, and similar disruptions affecting the Internet, telecommunication services or our systems have caused in the past and could in the future cause service interruptions or the loss of critical data, preventing us from providing timely services. See “—Security breaches could expose us to liability and damage our reputation and our business.” Failure to efficiently provide services to customers or other third parties could cause damage to our reputation and result in the loss of customers and revenues, asset impairments, significant recovery costs or litigation and liabilities. Moreover, such risks are likely to increase as we expand our business and as the tools and techniques involved become more sophisticated.
Although we have implemented measures intended to protect certain systems and critical data and provide comprehensive disaster recovery and contingency plans for certain customers that purchase this additional protection, these protections and plans are not in place for all systems. Furthermore, several of our existing critical backup systems are located in the same metropolitan area as our primary systems and we may not have sufficient disaster recovery tools or resources available, depending on the type or size of the disruption. Disasters affecting our facilities, systems or personnel might be expensive to remedy and could significantly diminish our reputation and our brands, and we may not have adequate insurance to cover such costs.
Customers and other end-users who rely on our software products and services, including our SaaS and hosted offerings, for applications that are integral to their businesses may have a greater sensitivity to product errors and security vulnerabilities than customers for software products generally. Additionally, security breaches that affect third parties upon which we rely, such as travel suppliers, may further expose us to negative publicity, possible liability or regulatory penalties. Events outside our control could cause interruptions in our IT systems, which could have a material adverse effect on our business operations and harm our reputation.
Security breaches could expose us to liability and damage our reputation and our business.
We process, store, and transmit large amounts of data, including PII and PCI of our customers, and it is critical to our business strategy that our facilities and infrastructure, including those provided by DXC Technology ("DXC") or other vendors, remain secure and are perceived by the marketplace to be secure. Our infrastructure may be vulnerable to physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses, or similar disruptive problems.
In addition, we, like most technology companies, are the target of cybercriminals who attempt to compromise our systems. We are subject to and experience threats and intrusions that have to be identified and remediated to protect sensitive information along with our intellectual property and our overall business. To address these threats and intrusions, we have a team of experienced security experts and support from firms that specialize in data security and cybersecurity. We are periodically subject to these threats and intrusions, and sensitive or material information has in the past been, and could in the future be, compromised as a result. The costs of investigation of such incidents, as well as remediation related to these incidents, may be material. As previously disclosed, we became aware of an incident involving unauthorized access to payment information contained in a subset of hotel reservations processed through the Sabre Hospitality Solutions SynXis Central Reservation System (the "HS Central Reservation System"). In December 2020, we entered into settlement agreements with certain state Attorneys General to resolve their investigation into this incident. As part of these agreements, we paid $2 million to the states represented by the Attorneys General in the first quarter of 2021 and agreed to implement certain security controls and processes. See Note 17. Commitments and Contingencies, to our consolidated financial statements for additional information. The costs related to these incidents, including any additional associated penalties assessed by any other governmental authority or payment card brand or indemnification obligations to our customers, as well as any other impacts or remediation related to them, may be material.
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Any computer viruses, malware, denial of service attacks, ransomware attacks, on hardware or software vulnerabilities, physical or electronic break-ins, cybersecurity incidents, such as the items described above, or other security breach or compromise of the information handled by us or our service providers may jeopardize the security or integrity of information in our computer systems and networks or those of our customers and cause significant interruptions in our and our customers’ operations.
Any systems and processes that we have developed that are designed to protect customer information and prevent data loss and other security breaches cannot provide absolute security. In addition, we may not successfully implement remediation plans to address all potential exposures. It is possible that we may have to expend additional financial and other resources to address these problems. Failure to prevent or mitigate data loss or other security breaches could expose us or our customers to a risk of loss or misuse of such information, cause customers to lose confidence in our data protection measures, damage our reputation, adversely affect our operating results or result in litigation or potential liability for us. While we maintain insurance coverage that may, subject to policy terms and conditions, cover certain aspects of cyber risks, this insurance coverage is subject to a retention amount and may not be applicable to a particular incident or otherwise may be insufficient to cover all our losses beyond any retention. Similarly, we expect to continue to make significant investments in our information technology infrastructure. The implementation of these investments may be more costly or take longer than we anticipate, or could otherwise adversely affect our business operations, which could negatively impact our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
We rely on the availability and performance of information technology services provided by third parties, including DXC, which manages a significant portion of our systems.
Our businesses are largely dependent on the computer data centers and network systems operated for us by DXC, and its third-party providers, including AT&T, to which DXC outsources certain network services. We also rely on other developers and service providers to maintain and support our global telecommunications infrastructure, including to connect our computer data center and call centers to end-users. Moreover, we outsourced our global enterprise resource planning system to a third-party provider, and any disruption to that outsourced system may negatively impact our business.
Our success is dependent on our ability to maintain effective relationships with these third-party technology and service providers. Some of our agreements with third-party technology and service providers are terminable for cause on short notice and often provide limited recourse for service interruptions. For example, our agreement with DXC provides us with limited indemnification rights. We could face significant additional cost or business disruption if:
Any of these providers fail to enable us to provide our customers and suppliers with reliable, real-time access to our systems. For example, in 2013, we experienced a significant outage of the Sabre platform due to a failure on the part of one of our service providers. This outage, which affected our Travel Solutions business, lasted several hours and caused significant problems for our customers. Any such future outages could cause damage to our reputation, customer loss and require us to pay compensation to affected customers for which we may not be indemnified or compensated.
Our arrangements with such providers are terminated or impaired and we cannot find alternative sources of technology or systems support on commercially reasonable terms or on a timely basis. For example, our substantial dependence on DXC for many of our systems makes it difficult for us to switch vendors and makes us more sensitive to changes in DXC's pricing for its services.
Intellectual property infringement actions against us could be costly and time consuming to defend and may result in business harm if we are unsuccessful in our defense
Third parties may assert, including by means of counterclaims against us as a result of the assertion of our intellectual property rights, that our products, services or technology, or the operation of our business, violate their intellectual property rights. We are currently subject to such assertions, including patent infringement claims, and may be subject to such assertions in the future. These assertions may also be made against our customers who may seek indemnification from us. In the ordinary course of business, we enter into agreements that contain indemnity obligations whereby we are required to indemnify our customers against these assertions arising from our customers’ usage of our products, services or technology. As the competition in our industry increases and the functionality of technology offerings further overlaps, these claims and counterclaims could become more common. We cannot be certain that we do not or will not infringe third parties’ intellectual property rights.
Legal proceedings involving intellectual property rights are highly uncertain and can involve complex legal and scientific questions. Any intellectual property claim against us, regardless of its merit, could result in significant liabilities to our business, and can be expensive and time consuming to defend. Depending on the nature of such claims, our businesses may be disrupted, our management’s attention and other company resources may be diverted and we may be required to redesign, reengineer or rebrand our products and services, if feasible, to stop offering certain products and services or to enter into royalty or licensing agreements in order to obtain the rights to use necessary technologies, which may not be available on terms acceptable to us, if at all, and may result in a decrease of our capabilities. Our failure to prevail in such matters could result in loss of intellectual property rights, judgments awarding substantial damages, including possible treble damages and attorneys’ fees, and injunctive or other equitable relief against us. If we are held liable, we may be unable to use some or all of our intellectual property rights or technology. Even if we are not held liable, we may choose to settle claims by making a monetary payment or by granting a license to intellectual property rights that we otherwise would not license. Further, judgments may result in loss of reputation, may force us to take costly remediation actions, delay selling our products and offering our services, reduce
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features or functionality in our services or products, or cease such activities altogether. Insurance may not cover or be insufficient for any such claim.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property effectively, which may allow competitors to duplicate our products and services.
Our success and competitiveness depend, in part, upon our technologies and other intellectual property, including our brands. Among our significant assets are our proprietary and licensed software and other proprietary information and intellectual property rights. We rely on a combination of copyright, trademark and patent laws, laws protecting trade secrets, confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to protect these assets both in the United States and in foreign countries. The laws of some jurisdictions may provide less protection for our technologies and other intellectual property assets than the laws of the United States.
There is no certainty that our intellectual property rights will provide us with substantial protection or commercial benefit. Despite our efforts to protect our intellectual property, some of our innovations may not be protectable, and our intellectual property rights may offer insufficient protection from competition or unauthorized use, lapse or expire, be challenged, narrowed, invalidated, or misappropriated by third parties, or be deemed unenforceable or abandoned, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and the legal remedies available to us may not adequately compensate us. We cannot be certain that others will not independently develop, design around, or otherwise acquire equivalent or superior technology or intellectual property rights.
While we take reasonable steps to protect our brands and trademarks, we may not be successful in maintaining or defending our brands or preventing third parties from adopting similar brands. If our competitors infringe our principal trademarks, our brands may become diluted or if our competitors introduce brands or products that cause confusion with our brands or products in the marketplace, the value that our consumers associate with our brands may become diminished, which could negatively impact revenue.
Our patent applications may not be granted, and the patents we own could be challenged, invalidated, narrowed or circumvented by others and may not be of sufficient scope or strength to provide us with any meaningful protection or commercial advantage. Once our patents expire, or if they are invalidated, narrowed or circumvented, our competitors may be able to utilize the technology protected by our patents which may adversely affect our business.
Although we rely on copyright laws to protect the works of authorship created by us, we do not generally register the copyrights in our copyrightable works where such registration is permitted. Copyrights of U.S. origin must be registered before the copyright owner may bring an infringement suit in the United States. Accordingly, if one of our unregistered copyrights of U.S. origin is infringed by a third party, we will need to register the copyright before we can file an infringement suit in the United States, and our remedies in any such infringement suit may be limited.
We use reasonable efforts to protect our trade secrets. However, protecting trade secrets can be difficult and our efforts may provide inadequate protection to prevent unauthorized use, misappropriation, or disclosure of our trade secrets, know how, or other proprietary information.
We also rely on our domain names to conduct our online businesses. While we use reasonable efforts to protect and maintain our domain names, if we fail to do so the domain names may become available to others. Further, the regulatory bodies that oversee domain name registration may change their regulations in a way that adversely affects our ability to register and use certain domain names.
We license software and other intellectual property from third parties. These licensors may breach or otherwise fail to perform their obligations or claim that we have breached or otherwise attempt to terminate their license agreements with us. We also rely on license agreements to allow third parties to use our intellectual property rights, including our software, but there is no guarantee that our licensees will abide by the terms of our license agreements or that the terms of our agreements will always be enforceable. In addition, policing unauthorized use of and enforcing intellectual property can be difficult and expensive. The fact that we have intellectual property rights, including registered intellectual property rights, may not guarantee success in our attempts to enforce these rights against third parties. Besides general litigation risks, changes in, or interpretations of, intellectual property laws may compromise our ability to enforce our rights. We may not be aware of infringement or misappropriation or elect not to seek to prevent it. Our decisions may be based on a variety of factors, such as costs and benefits of taking action, and contextual business, legal, and other issues. Any inability to adequately protect our intellectual property on a cost-effective basis could harm our business.
We use open source software in our solutions that may subject our software solutions to general release or require us to re-engineer our solutions.
We use open source software in our solutions and may use more open source software in the future. From time to time, there have been claims by companies claiming ownership of software that was previously thought to be open source and that was incorporated by other companies into their products. As a result, we could be subject to suits by parties claiming ownership of what we believe to be open source software. Some open source licenses contain requirements that we make available source code for modifications or derivative works we create based upon the open source software and that we license these modifications or derivative works under the terms of a particular open source license or other license granting third parties certain rights of further use. If we combine or, in some cases, link our proprietary software solutions with or to open source software in a certain manner, we could, under certain of the open source licenses, be required to release the source code of our proprietary
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software solutions or license such proprietary solutions under the terms of a particular open source license or other license granting third parties certain rights of further use. In addition to risks related to license requirements, usage of open source software can lead to greater risks than use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or controls on origin of the software. In addition, open source license terms may be ambiguous and many of the risks associated with usage of open source cannot be eliminated, and could, if not properly addressed, negatively affect our business. If we were found to have inappropriately used open source software, we may be required to seek licenses from third parties in order to continue offering our software, to re-engineer our solutions, to discontinue the sale of our solutions in the event re-engineering cannot be accomplished on a timely basis or take other remedial action that may divert resources away from our development efforts, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
Risks Related to Economic, Political and Global Conditions
Our business could be harmed by adverse global and regional economic and political conditions.
Travel expenditures are sensitive to personal and business discretionary spending levels and grow more slowly or decline during economic downturns. We derive the majority of our revenue from the United States and Europe, and we have expanded Travel Solutions' presence in APAC. Our geographic concentration in the United States and Europe, as well as our expanded focus in APAC, makes our business potentially vulnerable to economic and political conditions that adversely affect business and leisure travel originating in or traveling to these regions.
The COVID-19 outbreak has significantly and negatively impacted the global economy, including increased unemployment, reduced financial capacity of both business and leisure travelers, diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence and discretionary income and general uncertainty about economic stability. Furthermore, recent changes in the U.S. political environment have resulted in additional uncertainties with respect to travel restrictions, and the regulatory, tax and economic environment in the United States, which could adversely impact travel demand, our business operations or our financial results. We cannot predict the magnitude, length or recurrence of these impacts to the global economy, which have impacted, and may continue to impact, demand for travel and lead to reduced spending on the services we provide.
We derive the remainder of our revenues from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa and APAC. Any unfavorable economic, political or regulatory developments in these regions could negatively affect our business, such as delays in payment or non-payment of contracts, delays in contract implementation or signing, carrier control issues and increased costs from regulatory changes particularly as parts of our growth strategy involve expanding our presence in these emerging markets. For example, markets that have traditionally had a high level of exports to China, or that have commodities-based economies, have continued to experience slowing or deteriorating economic conditions. These adverse economic conditions may negatively impact our business results in those regions.
Voters in the U.K. have approved the exit of that country from the E.U. (“Brexit”), which became effective as of January 31, 2020, and was in a transition period through December 31, 2020. Brexit and related processes have created significant economic uncertainty in the U.K. and in EMEA, which may negatively impact our business results in those regions. In addition, the terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U., once negotiated during the transition period, if at all, could potentially disrupt the markets we serve and the tax jurisdictions in which we operate and adversely change tax benefits or liabilities in these or other jurisdictions, including our ability to obtain Value Added Tax ("VAT") refunds on transactions between the U.K. and the E.U., and may cause us to lose customers, suppliers, and employees. In addition, Brexit could lead to legal uncertainty and potentially divergent national laws and regulations as the U.K. determines which E.U. laws to replace or replicate.
We operate a global business that exposes us to risks associated with international activities.
Our international operations involve risks that are not generally encountered when doing business in the United States. These risks include, but are not limited to:
business, political and economic instability in foreign locations, including actual or threatened terrorist activities, and military action;
adverse laws and regulatory requirements, including more comprehensive regulation in the E.U. and the possible effects of Brexit;
changes in foreign currency exchange rates and financial risk arising from transactions in multiple currencies;
difficulty in developing, managing and staffing international operations because of distance, language and cultural differences;
disruptions to or delays in the development of communication and transportation services and infrastructure;
more restrictive data privacy requirements, including the GDPR;
consumer attitudes, including the preference of customers for local providers;
increasing labor costs due to high wage inflation in foreign locations, differences in general employment conditions and regulations, and the degree of employee unionization and activism;
export or trade restrictions or currency controls;
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governmental policies or actions, such as consumer, labor and trade protection measures and travel restrictions;
taxes, restrictions on foreign investment and limits on the repatriation of funds;
diminished ability to legally enforce our contractual rights; and
decreased protection for intellectual property.
Any of the foregoing risks may adversely affect our ability to conduct and grow our business internationally.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness, Financial Condition and Common Stock
We have a significant amount of indebtedness, which could adversely affect our cash flow and our ability to operate our business and to fulfill our obligations under our indebtedness.
We have a significant amount of indebtedness. As of December 31, 2020, we had $4.7 billion of indebtedness outstanding. Our substantial level of indebtedness increases the possibility that we may not generate enough cash flow from operations to pay, when due, the principal of, interest on or other amounts due in respect of, these obligations. Other risks relating to our long-term indebtedness include: (1) increased vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions; (2) higher interest expense if interest rates increase on our floating rate borrowings and our hedging strategies do not effectively mitigate the effects of these increases; (3) need to divert a significant portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of cash to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, investments and other general corporate purposes; (4) limited ability to obtain additional financing, on terms we find acceptable, if needed, for working capital, capital expenditures, expansion plans and other investments, which may adversely affect our ability to implement our business strategy; (5) limited flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our businesses and the markets in which we operate or to take advantage of market opportunities; and (6) a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt.
In addition, it is possible that we may need to incur additional indebtedness in the future in the ordinary course of business. The terms of our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement allow us to incur additional debt subject to certain limitations. If new debt is added to current debt levels, the risks described above could intensify. In addition, our inability to maintain certain leverage ratios could result in acceleration of a portion of our debt obligations and could cause us to be in default if we are unable to repay the accelerated obligations.
The terms of our debt covenants could limit our discretion in operating our business and any failure to comply with such covenants could result in the default of all of our debt
The agreements governing our indebtedness contain and the agreements governing our future indebtedness will likely contain various covenants, including those that restrict our or our subsidiaries’ ability to, among other things: (1) incur liens on our property, assets and revenue; (2) borrow money, and guarantee or provide other support for the indebtedness of third parties; (3) pay dividends or make other distributions on, redeem or repurchase our capital stock; (4) prepay, redeem or repurchase certain of our indebtedness; (5) enter into certain change of control transactions; (6) make investments in entities that we do not control, including equity method investments and joint ventures; (7) enter into certain asset sale transactions, including divestiture of certain company assets and divestiture of capital stock of wholly-owned subsidiaries; (8) enter into certain transactions with affiliates; (9) enter into secured financing arrangements; (10) enter into sale and leaseback transactions; (11) change our fiscal year; and (12) enter into substantially different lines of business. These covenants may limit our ability to effectively operate our businesses or maximize stockholder value. In addition, our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement requires that we meet certain financial tests, including the maintenance of a leverage ratio and a minimum net worth, as well as maintain certain minimum liquidity levels during any covenant suspension resulting from a "Material Travel Event Disruption." See Liquidity and Capital Resources. Our ability to satisfy these tests may be affected by factors and events beyond our control, and we may be unable to meet such tests in the future. Any failure to comply with the restrictions of our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement or any agreement governing our other indebtedness may result in an event of default under those agreements. Such default may allow the creditors to accelerate the related debt, which may trigger cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions in other debt. In addition, lenders may be able to terminate any commitments they had made to supply us with further funds.
We may require more cash than we generate in our operating activities, and additional funding on reasonable terms or at all may not be available.
We cannot guarantee that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations to fund our capital investment requirements or other liquidity needs, particularly following the COVID-19 outbreak. See “—The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, including our financial results and prospects, and the travel suppliers on whom our business relies.” Moreover, because we are a holding company with no material direct operations, we depend on loans, dividends and other payments from our subsidiaries to generate the funds necessary to meet our financial obligations. Our subsidiaries are legally distinct from us and may be prohibited or restricted from paying dividends or otherwise making funds available to us under certain conditions. As a result, we may be required to finance our cash needs through bank loans, additional debt financing, public or private equity offerings or otherwise. Our ability to arrange financing and the cost of such financing are dependent on numerous factors, including but not limited to general economic and capital market conditions, the availability of credit from banks or other lenders, investor confidence in us, and our results of operations.
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There can be no assurance that financing will be available on terms favorable to us or at all, which could force us to delay, reduce or abandon our growth strategy, increase our financing costs, or both. Additional funding from debt financings may make it more difficult for us to operate our business because a portion of our cash generated from internal operations would be used to make principal and interest payments on the indebtedness and we may be obligated to abide by restrictive covenants contained in the debt financing agreements, which may, among other things, limit our ability to make business decisions and further limit our ability to pay dividends. In addition, any downgrade of our debt ratings by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investor Service or similar ratings agencies, increases in general interest rate levels and credit spreads or overall weakening in the credit markets could increase our cost of capital. Furthermore, raising capital through public or private sales of equity to finance acquisitions or expansion could cause earnings or ownership dilution to your shareholding interests in our company.
We are exposed to interest rate fluctuations.
Our floating rate indebtedness exposes us to fluctuations in prevailing interest rates. To reduce the impact of large fluctuations in interest rates, we typically hedge a portion of our interest rate risk by entering into derivative agreements with financial institutions. Our exposure to interest rates relates primarily to our borrowings under the Amended and Restated Credit Agreement.
The derivative agreements that we use to manage the risk associated with fluctuations in interest rates may not be able to eliminate the exposure to these changes. Interest rates are sensitive to numerous factors outside of our control, such as government and central bank monetary policy in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Depending on the size of the exposures and the relative movements of interest rates, if we choose not to hedge or fail to effectively hedge our exposure, we could experience a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
As of December 31, 2020, we had outstanding approximately $2.8 billion of variable debt that is indexed to the London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR"). It is not possible to predict the effect of any changes in the methods by which LIBOR is determined or regulatory activity related to LIBOR’s phaseout. Any of these developments could cause LIBOR to perform differently than in the past or cease to exist. If a published U.S. dollar LIBOR rate is unavailable, the interest rates on our debt indexed to LIBOR will be determined using various alternative methods set forth in our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement, any of which could result in interest obligations that are more than or that do not otherwise correlate over time with the payments that would have been made on this debt if U.S. dollar LIBOR were available in its current form. Any of these proposals or consequences could have a material adverse effect on our financing costs. Moreover, our interest rate swap agreements designated in a hedging relationship utilize one-month LIBOR and have maturities that extend through 2021. See Note 10. Derivatives, to our consolidated financial statements.
The market price of our common stock could decline due to the large number of outstanding shares of our common stock eligible for future sale.
Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market in future offerings, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline. These sales could also make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future, at a time and price that we deem appropriate. In addition, the additional sale of our common stock by our officers or directors in the public market, or the perception that these sales may occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline. We may issue shares of our common stock or other securities from time to time as consideration for, or to finance, future acquisitions and investments or for other capital needs. We cannot predict the size of future issuances of our shares or the effect, if any, that future sales and issuances of shares would have on the market price of our common stock. If any such acquisition or investment is significant, the number of shares of common stock or the number or aggregate principal amount, as the case may be, of other securities that we may issue may in turn be substantial and may result in additional dilution to our stockholders. We may also grant registration rights covering shares of our common stock or other securities that we may issue in connection with any such acquisitions and investments. To the extent that any of us, our executive officers or directors sell, or indicate an intent to sell, substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, the trading price of our common stock could decline significantly.
We may recognize impairments on long-lived assets, including goodwill and other intangible assets, or recognize impairments on our equity method investments.
Our consolidated balance sheet at December 31, 2020 contained goodwill and intangible assets, net totaling $3.1 billion. Future acquisitions that result in the recognition of additional goodwill and intangible assets would cause an increase in these types of assets. We do not amortize goodwill and intangible assets that are determined to have indefinite useful lives, but we amortize definite-lived intangible assets on a straight-line basis over their useful economic lives, which range from four to thirty years, depending on classification. We evaluate goodwill for impairment on an annual basis or earlier if impairment indicators exist and we evaluate definite-lived intangible assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of definite-lived intangible assets used in combination to generate cash flows largely independent of other assets may not be recoverable. We record an impairment charge whenever the estimated fair value of our reporting units or of such intangible assets is less than its carrying value. The fair values used in our impairment evaluation are estimated using a combined approach based upon discounted future cash flow projections and observed market multiples for comparable businesses. Changes in estimates based on changes in risk-adjusted discount rates, future booking and transaction volume levels, travel supplier capacity and load factors, future price levels, rates of growth including long-term growth rates, rates of increase in operating expenses, cost of revenue and taxes, and changes in realization of estimated cost-saving initiatives could result in material impairment charges.
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Maintaining and improving our financial controls and the requirements of being a public company may strain our resources, divert management’s attention and affect our ability to attract and retain qualified board members.
As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) and The NASDAQ Stock Market (“NASDAQ”) rules. The requirements of these rules and regulations have increased and will continue to significantly increase our legal and financial compliance costs, including costs associated with the hiring of additional personnel, making some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly, and may also place undue strain on our personnel, systems and resources. The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. Ensuring that we have adequate internal financial and accounting controls and procedures in place, as well as maintaining these controls and procedures, is a costly and time-consuming effort that needs to be re-evaluated frequently. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“Section 404”) requires that we annually evaluate our internal control over financial reporting to enable management to report on, and our independent auditors to audit as of the end of each fiscal year the effectiveness of those controls. In connection with the Section 404 requirements, both we and our independent registered public accounting firm test our internal controls and could, as part of that documentation and testing, identify material weaknesses, significant deficiencies or other areas for further attention or improvement.
Implementing any appropriate changes to our internal controls may require specific compliance training for our directors, officers and employees, require the hiring of additional finance, accounting and other personnel, entail substantial costs to modify our existing accounting systems, or any manual systems or processes, and take a significant period of time to complete. These changes may not, however, be effective in maintaining the adequacy of our internal controls, and any failure to maintain that adequacy, or consequent inability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis, could increase our operating costs and could materially impair our ability to operate our business. Moreover, adequate internal controls are necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports and are important to help prevent fraud. As a result, our failure to satisfy the requirements of Section 404 on a timely basis could result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which in turn could cause the market value of our common stock to decline. Various rules and regulations applicable to public companies make it more difficult and more expensive for us to maintain directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to maintain coverage. If we are unable to maintain adequate directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, our ability to recruit and retain qualified officers and directors, especially those directors who may be deemed independent for purposes of the NASDAQ rules, will be significantly curtailed.
We may have higher than anticipated tax liabilities.
We are subject to a variety of taxes in many jurisdictions globally, including income taxes in the United States at the federal, state and local levels, and in many other countries. Significant judgment is required in determining our worldwide provision for income taxes. In the ordinary course of our business, there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. We operate in numerous countries where our income tax returns are subject to audit and adjustment by local tax authorities. Because we operate globally, the nature of the uncertain tax positions is often very complex and subject to change, and the amounts at issue can be substantial. It is inherently difficult and subjective to estimate such amounts, as we have to determine the probability of various possible outcomes. We re-evaluate uncertain tax positions on a quarterly basis. This evaluation is based on factors including, but not limited to, changes in facts or circumstances, changes in tax law, effectively settled issues under audit and new audit activity. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals. Our effective tax rate may change from year to year based on changes in the mix of activities and income allocated or earned among various jurisdictions, tax laws in these jurisdictions, tax treaties between countries, our eligibility for benefits under those tax treaties, and the estimated values of deferred tax assets and liabilities, including the estimation of valuation allowances. Such changes could result in an increase or decrease in the effective tax rate applicable to all or a portion of our income or losses which would impact our profitability. We consider the undistributed capital investments in our foreign subsidiaries to be indefinitely reinvested as of December 31, 2020 and, accordingly, have not provided deferred taxes on any outside basis differences.
We establish reserves for our potential liability for U.S. and non-U.S. taxes, including sales, occupancy and VAT, consistent with applicable accounting principles and in light of all current facts and circumstances. We also establish reserves when required relating to the collection of refunds related to value-added taxes, which are subject to audit and collection risks in various countries. Historically our right to recover certain value-added tax receivables associated with our European businesses has been questioned by tax authorities. These reserves represent our best estimate of our contingent liability for taxes. The interpretation of tax laws and the determination of any potential liability under those laws are complex, and the amount of our liability may exceed our established reserves.
New tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be enacted at any time and existing tax laws, statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us. These events could require us to pay additional tax amounts on a prospective or retroactive basis, as well as require us to pay fees, penalties or interest for past amounts deemed to be due. New, changed, modified or newly interpreted or applied laws could also increase our compliance, operating and other costs, as well as the costs of our products and services. Several countries, primarily in Europe, and the European Commission have proposed or adopted taxes on revenue earned by multinational corporations in certain "digital economy" sectors from activities linked to the user-based activity of their residents. These proposals have generally been
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labeled as "digital services taxes" ("DSTs"). We continue to evaluate the potential effects that the DST may have on our operations, cash flows and results of operations. The future impact of the DST, including on our global operations, is uncertain, and our business and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Our pension plan obligations are currently unfunded, and we may have to make significant cash contributions to our plans, which could reduce the cash available for our business.
Our pension plans in the aggregate are estimated to be unfunded by $124 million as of December 31, 2020. With approximately 4,600 participants in our pension plans, we incur substantial costs relating to pension benefits, which can vary substantially as a result of changes in healthcare laws and costs, volatility in investment returns on pension plan assets and changes in discount rates used to calculate related liabilities. Our estimates of liabilities and expenses for pension benefits require the use of assumptions, including assumptions relating to the rate used to discount the future estimated liability, the rate of return on plan assets, inflation and several assumptions relating to the employee workforce (medical costs, retirement age and mortality). Actual results may differ, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition or results of operations. Future volatility and disruption in the stock markets could cause a decline in the asset values of our pension plans. In addition, a decrease in the discount rate used to determine minimum funding requirements could result in increased future contributions. If either occurs, we may need to make additional pension contributions above what is currently estimated, which could reduce the cash available for our businesses.
We may not have sufficient insurance to cover our liability in pending litigation claims and future claims either due to coverage limits or as a result of insurance carriers seeking to deny coverage of such claims, which in either case could expose us to significant liabilities.
We maintain third-party insurance coverage against various liability risks, including securities, stockholders, derivative, ERISA, and product liability claims, as well as other claims that form the basis of litigation matters pending against us. We believe these insurance programs are an effective way to protect our assets against liability risks. However, the potential liabilities associated with litigation matters pending against us, or that could arise in the future, could exceed the coverage provided by such programs. In addition, our insurance carriers have in the past sought or may in the future seek to rescind or deny coverage with respect to pending claims or lawsuits, completed investigations or pending or future investigations and other legal actions against us. If we do not have sufficient coverage under our policies, or if the insurance companies are successful in rescinding or denying coverage, we may be required to make material payments in connection with third-party claims.
Defects in our products may subject us to significant warranty liabilities or product liability claims and we may have insufficient product liability insurance to pay material uninsured claims.
Our business exposes us to the risk of product liability claims that are inherent in software development. We may inadvertently create defective software or supply our customers with defective software or software components that we acquire from third parties, which could result in personal injury, property damage or other liabilities, and may result in warranty or product liability claims brought against us, our travel supplier customers or third parties. Under our customer agreements, we generally must indemnify our customers for liability arising from intellectual property infringement claims with respect to our software. These indemnifications could be significant and we may not have adequate insurance coverage to protect us against all claims. The combination of our insurance coverage, cash flows and reserves may not be adequate to satisfy product liabilities we may incur in the future. Even meritless claims could subject us to adverse publicity, hinder us from securing insurance coverage in the future, require us to incur significant legal fees, decrease demand for any products that we successfully develop, divert management’s attention, and force us to limit or forgo further development and commercialization of these products. The cost of any product liability litigation or other proceedings, even if resolved in our favor, could be substantial.
ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
Not applicable.
ITEM 2.        PROPERTIES
As a company with global operations, we operate in many countries with a variety of sales, administrative, product development and customer service roles provided in these offices.
Americas: Our corporate and business unit headquarters and domestic operations are located in two buildings in Southlake, Texas, which we sold and leased back in the fourth quarter of 2020, as well as in two leased offices located in Westlake, Texas. There are six additional offices across North America and three offices across Latin America that serve in various sales, administration, software development and customer service capacities for all our business segments. All of these offices are leased.

EMEA: We maintain our regional headquarters for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa ("EMEA") in London, United Kingdom. There are 17 additional offices across EMEA that serve in various sales, administration, software development and customer service capacities. All of these offices are leased.

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APAC: We maintain our Asia-Pacific ("APAC") regional operations headquarters in Singapore. There are 19 additional offices across APAC that serve in various sales, administration, software development and customer service capacities. All of the offices are leased.
ITEM 3.        LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
The Company and its subsidiaries are from time to time engaged in routine legal proceedings incidental to our business. For a description of our material legal proceedings, see Note 17. Commitments and Contingencies, to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is incorporated herein by reference. While certain legal proceedings and related indemnification obligations to which we are a party specify the amounts claimed, these claims may not represent reasonably possible losses. Given the inherent uncertainties of litigation, the ultimate outcome of these matters cannot be predicted at this time, nor can the amount of possible loss or range of loss, if any, be reasonably estimated, except in circumstances where an aggregate litigation accrual has been recorded for probable and reasonably estimable loss contingencies. A determination of the amount of accrual required, if any, for these contingencies is made after careful analysis of each matter. The required accrual may change in the future due to new information or developments in each matter or changes in approach such as a change in settlement strategy in dealing with these matters. See “Risk Factors —"We are involved in various legal proceedings which may cause us to incur significant fees, costs and expenses and may result in unfavorable outcomes.”
ITEM 4.        MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.
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INFORMATION ABOUT OUR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
The names and ages of our executive officers as of February 25, 2021, together with certain biographical information, are as follows:
NameAgePosition
Sean Menke52Chief Executive Officer, President and Director, Sabre
Douglas Barnett61Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Sabre
David Shirk54Executive Vice President, Sabre and President, Travel Solutions
Scott Wilson52Executive Vice President, Sabre and President, Hospitality Solutions
Wade Jones55Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer
Roshan Mendis48Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer
David Moore58Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Cem Tanyel52Executive Vice President and Chief Services Officer
Shawn Williams48Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer
Sean Menke was elected president and CEO effective December 31, 2016. Prior to that, he served as executive vice president of Sabre and president of Travel Network. Before joining Sabre in October 2015, Mr. Menke served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hawaiian Airlines from October 2014 to October 2015. From 2013 to 2014, he was executive vice president of resources at IHS Inc., a global information technology company. He served as managing partner of Vista Strategic Group, LLC, a consulting firm, from 2012 to 2013 and from 2010 to 2011. From 2011 to 2012, he served as president and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Airlines, and from 2007 to 2010 as president and chief executive officer of Frontier Airlines. Frontier Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Mr. Menke earned an executive MBA from the University of Denver and dual bachelor of science degrees in Economics and Aviation Management from Ohio State University.
Douglas Barnett is executive vice president and chief financial officer. Prior to joining Sabre in June 2018, Mr. Barnett served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Informatica LLC, a global leader in enterprise cloud data management, since 2016. While there, he was responsible for a number of areas of Informatica’s business, including finance, legal, information technology, human resources and corporate development. From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Barnett served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of TriZetto Corporation, a health care IT company, where he was responsible for all finance-related functions, including accounting, internal audit, banking, investor relations, cash management, internal and external reporting, tax and treasury, as well as human resources, facilities and IT. From 2007 to 2013, Mr. Barnett was managing director, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of AlixPartners LLP, a global business-advisory firm, where he was responsible for most non-client facing functions at the firm, including accounting, finance, treasury, HR, facilities, internal audit, tax, IT and other operations for 16 global locations. Prior to that, he held financial leadership roles at UGS Corporation, Colfax Corporation and Giddings & Lewis, Inc. Mr. Barnett is a current board member of ECI Software Solutions. Mr. Barnett received a Masters of Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois.
David Shirk is executive vice president of Sabre and president of Travel Solutions. Mr. Shirk previously served as executive vice president of Sabre and president of Airline Solutions from June 2017 to July 2018. Prior to joining Sabre, Mr. Shirk served as president at Kony, Inc., an industry leader in mobile application development. He previously served as general manager and vice president at Computer Services Corp. (CSC), where he led the company’s software, services, and business process outsourcing division. Prior to joining CSC, Mr. Shirk was senior vice president of industry solutions and chief marketing officer for the Enterprise Business division of HP. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from The Ohio State University.
Scott Wilson is executive vice president of Sabre and president of Hospitality Solutions. Prior to joining Sabre in September 2020, Mr. Wilson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Great Wolf Resorts, the largest family of indoor water park resorts in North America, since 2017. While there, he was responsible for a number of areas of Great Wolf’s business, including sales, marketing, digital, revenue management, data and analytics, contact centers, and merchandising. From 2010 to 2017, Mr. Wilson served as Vice President, e-Commerce and Merchandising, at United Airlines, Inc. one of the largest global airlines. In addition to e-commerce and merchandising functions, he was also responsible for distribution and commercial analytics. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Wilson was Vice President, Digital Marketing, at Marriott International, Inc. with responsibility for all performance and social media marketing across Marriott’s full portfolio of brands. Prior to that, he held digital, marketing, and strategy leadership roles at BCG, America Online, Netscape, and American Airlines. Mr. Wilson is a current board member of Alliant Credit Union. Mr. Wilson received an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Wade Jones is executive vice president and chief product officer. Mr. Jones previously served as executive vice president of Sabre and president of Travel Network from 2017 to 2020. He joined Sabre in 2015 in the product, marketing and strategy role for Travel Solutions globally. From April of 2012 to September of 2014 he was senior vice president and general manager of Deem’s syndicated commerce business. From 2011 to 2012, Mr. Jones served as a founder and chief executive officer of Haystack Ventures, LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in 2012. Prior to joining Sabre, Mr. Jones spent more than 10 years with Barclaycard, leading the company’s U.K partnership business that provides, co-branded credit card, and loyalty programs for other companies across the travel, retail, financial services, and
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other industries. He received his master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University.
Roshan Mendis has served as executive vice president and chief commercial officer since 2020. Mr. Mendis previously served as chief commercial officer for the Travel Network business from 2018 to 2020, and prior to that served as senior vice president of international markets for Sabre from 2017 to 2018. From 2015 to 2017, Mr. Mendis served as senior vice president of Asia Pacific for Sabre. Mr. Mendis has also served as president of Travelocity and Zuji, consumer-facing brands that were part of the Sabre portfolio. He completed his undergraduate studies at Chaminade University of Honolulu and University of Cambridge (UK) and later earned his MBA at the Rice University.
David Moore has served as executive vice president and chief technology officer since 2020. Mr. Moore previously served as a senior vice president in Sabre's Travel Network and Travel Solutions businesses from 2016 to 2020, where he led product management and development, and subsequently a series of increasing roles leading global technology teams. Prior to that, he served as chief technology officer and senior vice president of global engineering at Digital River, which builds and operates online B2B marketplace and online channels for global clients, and chief technology officer and chief innovation officer at Keane (now NTT).
Cem Tanyel is executive vice president and chief services officer. Mr. Tanyel previously served as executive vice president of Sabre and president of Airline Solutions from 2018 to 2020. Prior to joining Sabre in September 2018, Mr. Tanyel served as executive vice president and general manager, Global Services at Kony from October 2016 to October 2018. From 2015 to 2016, he was chief services officer and senior vice president, consulting and service delivery of Trizetto Corp. Mr. Tanyel served as Vice president and general manager, healthcare and life sciences global solutions at CSC Corp. from 2012 to 2015, and he served as senior vice president, research and development, health systems enterprise solutions at McKesson Corp. from 2010 to 2012.
Shawn Williams has served as executive vice president and chief people officer since 2020. Prior to joining Sabre in 2020, Mr. Williams served as chief human resources officer of Scientific Games, a global technology gaming company, from 2017 to 2020. From 2016 to 2017, he served as senior vice president and chief administrative officer of LeEco Holdings North America, a consumer electronics business. Prior to that, Mr. Williams served as senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Samsung Electronics America, an electronics and telecommunications company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston.

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PART II
ITEM 5.        MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “SABR.” As of February 22, 2021, there were 104 stockholders of record of our common stock. We have suspended the payment of quarterly cash dividends on our common stock, effective with respect to the dividends occurring after the March 30, 2020 payment. The amount of future cash dividends on our common stock, if any, will depend upon, among other things, our future operations and earnings, capital requirements and surplus, general financial condition, contractual restrictions, number of shares of common stock outstanding and other factors the board of directors may deem relevant. The timing and amount of future dividend payments will be at the discretion of our board of directors. See Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital Resources—Dividends.” There were no shares repurchased during the fourth quarter of 2020. See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital ResourcesRecent Events Impacting Our Liquidity and Capital Resources—Share Repurchase Program."
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph shows a comparison from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2020 of the cumulative total return for our common stock, the Nasdaq Composite Index ("NASDAQ Composite"), the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index ("S&P 500") and the Standard & Poor's Software and Services Index ("S&P 500/Software & Services") (collectively, the "Indices"). The graph assumes that $100 was invested at the market close on December 31, 2015 in the common stock of Sabre Corporation and the Indices as well as reinvestments of dividends. The stock price performance of the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.
https://cdn.kscope.io/b47f6892fa99328b011fb3c744ed8c80-sabr-20201231_g1.jpg
The stock price performance depicted in the above graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. The stock performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing by us under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate the graph by reference in such filing.    
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ITEM 6.        SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto contained in Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Pursuant to the early adoption of the changes to Item 301 of Regulation S-K, we have elected to present three years of selected financial data, which we believe represents relevant historical periods and information for our readers in light of our Strategic Realignment.
The consolidated statements of operations data and consolidated statements of cash flows data for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements contained in Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2018 is derived from audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected in the future. All amounts presented below are in thousands, except per share amounts.
Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:   
Revenue$1,334,100 $3,974,988 $3,866,956 
Operating (loss) income(988,039)363,417 562,016 
(Loss) income from continuing operations(1,274,332)164,312 340,921 
Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax2,788 (1,766)1,739 
Net (loss) income attributable to common stockholders(1,280,403)158,592 337,531 
Net (loss) income per share attributable to common stockholders:   
Basic$(4.42)$0.57 $1.23 
Diluted$(4.42)$0.57 $1.22 
Weighted-average common shares outstanding:   
Basic289,855 274,168 275,235 
Diluted289,855 276,217 277,518 
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows Data:   
Cash (used in) provided by operating activities$(770,245)$581,260 $724,797 
Cash (used in) provided by investing activities(1,291)(243,026)(275,259)
Cash provided by (used in) financing activities1,837,741 (409,721)(306,506)
Additions to property and equipment65,420 115,166 283,940 
Cash payments for interest186,235 157,648 156,041 
Other Financial Data:   
Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income$(745,274)$513,408 $701,432 
Adjusted Net (Loss) Income(922,321)279,215 427,570 
Adjusted EBITDA(372,852)946,360 1,124,390 
Free Cash Flow(835,665)466,094 440,857 
Key Metrics:   
Travel Solutions   
Direct Billable Bookings - Air103,331 499,111 491,820 
Direct Billable Bookings - Lodging, Ground and Sea
21,353 67,197 66,454 
Distribution Total Direct Billable Bookings124,684 566,308 558,274 
IT Solutions Passengers Boarded322,714 741,107 752,548 
Hospitality Solutions
Central Reservations System Transactions67,046 108,482 88,655 


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As of December 31,
 202020192018
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:   
Cash and cash equivalents$1,499,665 $436,176 $509,265 
Total assets(1) (2)
6,077,722 5,689,957 5,806,381 
Long-term debt4,639,782 3,261,821 3,337,467 
Working capital surplus(2)
1,266,162 96,377 169,235 
Noncontrolling interest7,028 8,588 7,205 
Total stockholders’ equity(2)
362,632 947,669 974,271 
________________________________
(1) In the first quarter of 2019, we adopted new lease accounting guidance on a modified retrospective basis in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification (" ASC") 842, Leases. See Note 12. Leases, to our consolidated financial statements.
(2) In the first quarter of 2020, we adopted the comprehensive update for the measurement of credit losses, ASC 326, on a modified retrospective basis. See Note 8. Credit Losses, to our consolidated financial statements.
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Non-GAAP Financial Measures
The following table sets forth the reconciliation of Net (Loss) Income attributable to common stockholders to Adjusted Net (Loss) Income from continuing operations, Operating (Loss) Income to Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, and (Loss) Income from continuing operations to Adjusted EBITDA (in thousands):
 Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
Net (loss) income attributable to common stockholders$(1,280,403)$158,592 $337,531 
(Income) loss from discontinued operations, net of tax(2,788)1,766 (1,739)
Net income attributable to non-controlling interests(1)
1,200 3,954 5,129 
Preferred stock dividends
7,659 — — 
(Loss) Income from continuing operations(1,274,332)164,312 340,921 
Adjustments:   
Impairment and related charges(2)
8,684 — — 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
65,998 64,604 68,008 
Restructuring and other costs(6)
85,797 — — 
Loss on extinguishment of debt
21,626 — 633 
Other, net(5)
66,961 9,432 8,509 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
16,787 41,037 3,266 
Litigation costs, net(8)
(1,919)(24,579)8,323 
Stock-based compensation
69,946 66,885 57,263 
Tax impact of adjustments(9)
18,131 (42,476)(59,353)
Adjusted Net (Loss) Income from continuing operations$(922,321)$279,215 $427,570 
Adjusted Net (Loss) Income from continuing operations per share$(3.18)$1.01 $1.54 
Diluted weighted-average common shares outstanding289,855 276,217 277,518 
Operating (loss) income$(988,039)$363,417 $562,016 
Add back: 
Equity method (loss) income(2,528)2,044 2,556 
Impairment and related charges(2)
8,684 — — 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
65,998 64,604 68,008 
Restructuring and other costs(6)
85,797 — — 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
16,787 41,037 3,266 
Litigation costs, net(8)
(1,919)(24,579)8,323 
Stock-based compensation69,946 66,885 57,263 
Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income$(745,274)$513,408 $701,432 
(Loss) income from continuing operations$(1,274,332)$164,312 $340,921 
Adjustments:
Depreciation and amortization of property and equipment(3b)
260,651 310,573 303,612 
Amortization of capitalized implementation costs(3c)
37,094 39,444 41,724 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
65,998 64,604 68,008 
Impairment and related charges(2)
8,684 — — 
Restructuring and other costs(6)
85,797 — — 
Amortization of upfront incentive consideration(4)
74,677 82,935 77,622 
Interest expense, net235,091 156,391 157,017 
Other, net(5)
66,961 9,432 8,509 
Loss on extinguishment of debt21,626 — 633 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
16,787 41,037 3,266 
Litigation costs, net(8)
(1,919)(24,579)8,323 
Stock-based compensation69,946 66,885 57,263 
Provision for income taxes(39,913)35,326 57,492 
Adjusted EBITDA$(372,852)$946,360 $1,124,390 
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The following tables set forth the reconciliation of Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income to Operating (Loss) Income in our statement of operations and Adjusted EBITDA to (Loss) Income from Continuing Operations in our statement of operations by business segment (in thousands):
Year Ended December 31, 2020
Travel
Solutions

Hospitality
Solutions
CorporateTotal
Adjusted Operating Loss$(523,122)$(63,915)$(158,237)$(745,274)
Less:
Equity method loss(2,528)— — (2,528)
Impairment and related charges(2)
— — 8,684 8,684 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 65,998 65,998 
Restructuring and other costs(6)
— — 85,797 85,797 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 16,787 16,787 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — (1,919)(1,919)
Stock-based compensation— — 69,946 69,946 
Operating loss$(520,594)$(63,915)$(403,530)$(988,039)
Adjusted EBITDA$(197,905)$(21,126)$(153,821)$(372,852)
Less:
Depreciation and amortization of property and equipment(3b)
217,808 38,427 4,416 260,651 
Amortization of capitalized implementation costs(3c)
32,732 4,362 — 37,094 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 65,998 65,998 
Impairment and related charges(2)
— — 8,684 8,684 
Restructuring and other costs(6)
— — 85,797 85,797 
Amortization of upfront incentive consideration(4)
74,677 — — 74,677 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 16,787 16,787 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — (1,919)(1,919)
Stock-based compensation— — 69,946 69,946 
Equity method loss(2,528)— — (2,528)
Operating loss$(520,594)$(63,915)$(403,530)$(988,039)
Interest expense, net(235,091)
Other, net(5)
(66,961)
Loss on extinguishment of debt(21,626)
Equity method loss(2,528)
Provision for income taxes39,913 
Loss from continuing operations$(1,274,332)

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Year Ended December 31, 2019
Travel
Solutions
Hospitality
Solutions
CorporateTotal
Adjusted Operating Income (Loss)$729,266 $(21,632)$(194,226)$513,408 
Less:
Equity method income2,044 — — 2,044 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 64,604 64,604 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 41,037 41,037 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — (24,579)(24,579)
Stock-based compensation— — 66,885 66,885 
Operating income (loss)$727,222 $(21,632)$(342,173)$363,417 
Adjusted EBITDA$1,104,298 $31,466 $(189,404)$946,360 
Less:
Depreciation and amortization of property and equipment(3b)
257,390 48,361 4,822 310,573 
Amortization of capitalized implementation costs(3c)
34,707 4,737 — 39,444 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 64,604 64,604 
Amortization of upfront incentive consideration(4)
82,935 — — 82,935 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 41,037 41,037 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — (24,579)(24,579)
Stock-based compensation— — 66,885 66,885 
Equity method income2,044 — — 2,044 
Operating income (loss)$727,222 $(21,632)$(342,173)$363,417 
Interest expense, net(156,391)
Other, net(5)
(9,432)
Equity method income2,044 
Provision for income taxes(35,326)
Income from continuing operations$164,312 

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Year Ended December 31, 2018
Travel
Solutions
Hospitality
Solutions
CorporateTotal
Adjusted Operating Income (Loss)$866,957 $12,881 $(178,406)$701,432 
Less:
Equity method income2,556 — — 2,556 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 68,008 68,008 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 3,266 3,266 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — 8,323 8,323 
Stock-based compensation— — 57,263 57,263 
Operating income (loss)$864,401 $12,881 $(315,266)$562,016 
Adjusted EBITDA$1,245,286 $52,824 $(173,720)$1,124,390 
Less:
Depreciation and amortization of property and equipment(3b)
262,745 36,181 4,686 303,612 
Amortization of capitalized implementation costs(3c)
37,962 3,762 — 41,724 
Acquisition-related amortization(3a)
— — 68,008 68,008 
Amortization of upfront incentive consideration(4)
77,622 — — 77,622 
Acquisition-related costs(7)
— — 3,266 3,266 
Litigation costs, net(8)
— — 8,323 8,323 
Stock-based compensation— — 57,263 57,263 
Equity method income2,556 — — 2,556 
Operating income (loss)$864,401 $12,881 $(315,266)$562,016 
Interest expense, net(157,017)
Other, net(5)
(8,509)
Loss on extinguishment of debt(633)
Equity method income2,556 
Provision for income taxes(57,492)
Income from continuing operations$340,921 

The following tables present information from our statements of cash flows and set forth the reconciliation of Free Cash Flow to cash provided by operating activities, the most directly comparable GAAP measure (in thousands):
 Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
Cash (used in) provided by operating activities$(770,245)$581,260 $724,797 
Cash used in investing activities(1,291)(243,026)(275,259)
Cash provided by (used in) financing activities1,837,741 (409,721)(306,506)

Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
Cash provided by operating activities$(770,245)$581,260 $724,797 
Additions to property and equipment(65,420)(115,166)(283,940)
Free Cash Flow$(835,665)$466,094 $440,857 
________________________________
(1)Net income attributable to non-controlling interests represents an adjustment to include earnings allocated to non-controlling interests held in (i) Sabre Travel Network Middle East of 40% and Sabre Seyahat Dagitim Sistemleri A.S. of 40% for all periods presented, (ii) Sabre Travel Network Lanka (Pte) Ltd of 40% beginning in July 2015, and (iii) Sabre Bulgaria of 40% beginning in November 2017.
(2)Impairment and related charges consists of $5 million associated with software developed for internal use and $4 million associated with capitalized implementation costs related to a specific customer based on our analysis of the recoverability of such amounts.
(3)Depreciation and amortization expenses:
a.Acquisition-related amortization represents amortization of intangible assets from the take-private transaction in 2007 as well as intangibles associated with acquisitions since that date.
b.Depreciation and amortization of property and equipment includes software developed for internal use as well as amortization of contract acquisition costs.
c.Amortization of capitalized implementation costs represents amortization of upfront costs to implement new customer contracts under our SaaS and hosted revenue model.
(4)Our Travel Solutions business at times provides upfront incentive consideration to travel agency subscribers at the inception or modification of a service contract, which are capitalized and amortized to cost of revenue, excluding technology costs over an average expected life of
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the service contract, generally over three to ten years. This consideration is made with the objective of increasing the number of clients or to ensure or improve customer loyalty. These service contract terms are established such that the supplier and other fees generated over the life of the contract will exceed the cost of the incentive consideration provided up front. These service contracts with travel agency subscribers require that the customer commit to achieving certain economic objectives and generally have terms requiring repayment of the upfront incentive consideration if those objectives are not met.
(5)Other, net includes a $46 million charge related to termination payments incurred in 2020 in connection with the now-terminated acquisition of Farelogix Inc. ("Farelogix") and a $18 million pension settlement charge recorded in 2020, partially offset by a $10 million gain on sale of our headquarters building in the fourth quarter of 2020. In 2018, we recorded an expense of $5 million related to our liability under the Tax Receivable Agreement ("TRA") and an offsetting gain of $8 million on the sale of an investment. In addition, all periods presented include foreign exchange gains and losses related to the remeasurement of foreign currency denominated balances included in our consolidated balance sheets into the relevant functional currency. See Note 3. Acquisitions to our consolidated financial statements regarding the Farelogix termination and Note 16. Pension and Other Postretirement Benefit Plans to our consolidated financial statements regarding the pension settlements.
(6)Restructuring and other costs represents charges associated with business restructuring and associated changes, including the Strategic Realignment, as well as other measures to support the new organizational structure and to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, facilities and cost structure. See Note 4. Restructuring Activities to our consolidated financial statements for further details.
(7)Acquisition-related costs represent fees and expenses incurred associated with the now-terminated agreement to acquire Farelogix, as well as costs related to the acquisition of Radixx in 2019. See Note 3. Acquisitions to our consolidated financial statements.
(8)Litigation costs, net represent charges associated with antitrust litigation and other foreign non-income tax contingency matters. In 2020, we reversed the previously accrued non-income tax expense of $4 million due to success in our claims. In 2019, we recorded the reversal of our previously accrued loss related to the US Airways legal matter for $32 million. In 2018, we recorded non-income tax expense of $5 million for tax, penalties and interest associated with certain non-income tax claims for historical periods regarding permanent establishment in a foreign jurisdiction. See Note 17. Commitments and Contingencies to our consolidated financial statements.
(9)The tax impact of adjustments includes the tax effect of each separate adjustment based on the statutory tax rate for the jurisdiction(s) in which the adjustment was taxable or deductible, the impact of the adjustments on valuation allowance assessments, and the tax effect of items that relate to tax specific financial transactions, tax law changes, uncertain tax positions, and other items. In 2018, the provision for income taxes includes a benefit of $27 million related to the enactment of the TCJA for deferred taxes and foreign tax effects.
Definitions of Non-GAAP Financial Measures
We have included both financial measures compiled in accordance with GAAP and certain non-GAAP financial measures in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, Adjusted Net (Loss) Income from continuing operations ("Adjusted Net (Loss) Income"), Adjusted EBITDA, Free Cash Flow and ratios based on these financial measures. As a result of the Strategic Realignment, we have separated our technology costs from cost of revenue and moved certain expenses previously classified as cost of revenue to selling, general and administrative to provide increased visibility to our technology costs for analytical and decision-making purposes and to align costs with the current leadership and operational organizational structure.
We define Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income as operating (loss) income adjusted for equity method (loss) income, impairment and related charges, acquisition-related amortization, restructuring and other costs, acquisition-related costs, litigation costs, net, and stock-based compensation.
We define Adjusted Net (Loss) Income as net (loss) income attributable to common stockholders adjusted for loss (income) from discontinued operations, net of tax, net income attributable to noncontrolling interests, impairment and related charges, acquisition-related amortization, loss on extinguishment of debt, other, net, restructuring and other costs, acquisition-related costs, litigation costs, net, stock-based compensation, and the tax impact of net income adjustments.
We define Adjusted EBITDA as (Loss) Income from continuing operations adjusted for depreciation and amortization of property and equipment, amortization of capitalized implementation costs, acquisition-related amortization, impairment and related charges, restructuring and other costs, amortization of upfront incentive consideration, interest expense, net, other, net, loss on extinguishment of debt, acquisition-related costs, litigation costs, net, stock-based compensation and the remaining provision for income taxes.
We define Free Cash Flow as cash (used in) provided by operating activities less cash used in additions to property and equipment.
We define Adjusted Net (Loss) Income from continuing operations per share as Adjusted Net (Loss) Income divided by diluted weighted-average common shares outstanding.
These non-GAAP financial measures are key metrics used by management and our board of directors to monitor our ongoing core operations because historical results have been significantly impacted by events that are unrelated to our core operations as a result of changes to our business and the regulatory environment. We believe that these non-GAAP financial measures are used by investors, analysts and other interested parties as measures of financial performance and to evaluate our ability to service debt obligations, fund capital expenditures and meet working capital requirements. We also believe that Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, Adjusted Net (Loss) Income and Adjusted EBITDA assist investors in company-to-company and period-to-period comparisons by excluding differences caused by variations in capital structures (affecting interest expense), tax positions and the impact of depreciation and amortization expense. In addition, amounts derived from Adjusted EBITDA are a primary component of certain covenants under our senior secured credit facilities.
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Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, Adjusted Net (Loss) Income, Adjusted EBITDA, Free Cash Flow and ratios based on these financial measures are not recognized terms under GAAP. These non-GAAP financial measures and ratios based on them are unaudited and have important limitations as analytical tools, and should not be viewed in isolation and do not purport to be alternatives to net income as indicators of operating performance or cash flows from operating activities as measures of liquidity. These non-GAAP financial measures and ratios based on them exclude some, but not all, items that affect net income or cash flows from operating activities and these measures may vary among companies. Our use of these measures has limitations as an analytical tool, and you should not consider them in isolation or as substitutes for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations are:
these non-GAAP financial measures exclude certain recurring, non-cash charges such as stock-based compensation expense and amortization of acquired intangible assets;
although depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated and amortized may have to be replaced in the future, and Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect cash requirements for such replacements;
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect amortization of upfront incentive consideration or capitalized implementation costs associated with our revenue contracts, which may require future working capital or cash needs in the future;
Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, Adjusted Net (Loss) Income and Adjusted EBITDA do not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs;
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect the interest expense or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments on our indebtedness;
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect tax payments that may represent a reduction in cash available to us;
Free Cash Flow removes the impact of accrual-basis accounting on asset accounts and non-debt liability accounts, and does not reflect the cash requirements necessary to service the principal payments on our indebtedness; and
other companies, including companies in our industry, may calculate Adjusted Operating (Loss) Income, Adjusted Net (Loss) Income, Adjusted EBITDA or Free Cash Flow differently, which reduces their usefulness as comparative measures.
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ITEM 7.        MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis has been recast to reflect the Strategic Realignment described in this Form 10-K and should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Overview
We connect people and places with technology that reimagines the business of travel. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major shifts in the travel ecosystem resulting in the changing needs of our airline, hotel and agency customers. As a result, in 2020 we accelerated the organizational changes we began in 2018 to address the changing travel landscape through the Strategic Realignment to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and cost structure. The organizational changes involve the creation of a functional-oriented structure to further enhance our long-term growth opportunities and help deliver new retailing, distribution and fulfillment solutions to the travel marketplace. As a result of the Strategic Realignment, we now operate our business and present our results through two business segments effective the third quarter of 2020: (i) Travel Solutions, our global business-to-business travel marketplace for travel suppliers and travel buyers, including a broad portfolio of software technology products and solutions for airlines, and (ii) Hospitality Solutions, an extensive suite of leading software solutions for hoteliers. All revenue and expenses previously assigned to the Travel Network and Airline Solutions business segments have been consolidated into a unified revenue and expense structure now reported as the Travel Solutions business segment. The historical results of the Hospitality Solutions reporting segment have not changed. See Note 18. Segment Information, to our consolidated financial statements for results for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 by reportable segment.
A significant portion of our revenue is generated through transaction-based fees that we charge to our customers. For Travel Solutions, we generate revenue from our distribution activities through transaction fees for bookings on our GDS, and from our IT solutions through recurring usage-based fees for the use of our SaaS and hosted systems, as well as upfront fees and professional services fees. For Hospitality Solutions, we generate revenue from recurring usage-based fees for the use of our SaaS and hosted systems, as well as upfront fees and professional services fees. Items that are not allocated to our business segments are identified as corporate and primarily include stock-based compensation expense, litigation costs, corporate headcount-related costs and other items that are not identifiable with either of our segments.
Additionally, we have reclassified expenses on our statement of operations to provide additional clarification on our costs by separating technology costs from cost of revenue and realigning certain expenses previously classified as cost of revenue to selling, general and administrative classification, considering how we assess our results of operations in the current organizational structure. Certain historical amounts have been reclassified to align with the current presentation. See Note 1. Summary of Business and Significant Accounting Policies, to our consolidated financial statements for further information.
Recent Developments Affecting our Results of Operations
The travel industry continues to be adversely affected by the global health crisis due to COVID-19, as well as by government directives that have been enacted to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 has had a material impact to our consolidated financial results in 2020, resulting in a material decrease in transaction-based revenue across both of our business units over the prior year. Additionally, our mix of transactions has shifted such that domestic bookings now exceed international bookings, negatively impacting revenue. Revenue during the year, particularly in the second quarter, was negatively impacted by increased cancellation activity. We estimate future cancellations at the end of each reporting period based on the number of undeparted bookings, expected cancellations and an estimated rate. The combination of actual cancellation activity and significantly fewer bookings resulted in a reduction in the cancellation reserve for the year ended December 31, 2020 when compared to 2019. Lower GDS volumes resulted in a material decline in incentive consideration costs, which was partially offset by a higher provision for expected credit losses due to the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and our customers and other general increases in bad debt from aging balances as applied under the newly adopted credit impairment standard. Refer to Note 8. Credit Losses for further information.
Given the impact of COVID-19, as previously disclosed, we have responded with measures to increase our cash position, including the suspension of common stock dividends and share repurchases under our $500 million share repurchase program (the "Share Repurchase Program"), borrowing under our Revolver, implementing cost savings measures, and completing debt and equity offerings. Additionally, during the fourth quarter of 2020, we completed the sale of our two headquarters buildings for an aggregate purchase price, net of closing costs, of $69 million in conjunction with an assessment of our real estate footprint, as well as our work from anywhere initiatives. See Note 12. Leases, to our consolidated financial statements for further information. We also took the following actions with regard to our workforce and compensation programs as cost reduction efforts:
A temporary reduction in base compensation pay for our US-based salaried workforce, including a 25% reduction for our CEO, from March 16, 2020 through July 5, 2020;
A temporary reduction in the cash retainer for members of our Board of Directors from March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2020;
The temporary suspension of our 401(k) match program for US-based employees through December 31, 2020;
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Reductions in third-party contracting, vendor costs and other discretionary spending;
An offering of voluntary unpaid time off, voluntary severance and a voluntary early retirement program in the first quarter of 2020;
A temporary furlough of approximately one-third of our workforce during the second quarter of 2020; and
A right-sizing of our global organization through a reduction in force that impacted approximately 800 team members across 44 office locations. This reduction is in addition to the separation of approximately 400 participants in voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement programs described above.
We substantially completed the Strategic Realignment during the year ended December 31, 2020. In connection with these measures, we recorded a $72 million charge associated with these restructuring activities during the year ended December 31, 2020. See Note 4. Restructuring Activities, to our consolidated financial statements for further details on the costs incurred related to restructuring. Additionally, to retain key talent in this highly volatile macro environment, we have taken the following specific actions related to our compensation programs which have impacted our operating expenses:
Replaced the revenue and adjusted earnings per share metrics in our 2020 annual incentive program with measures focused on expense management with payout capped at 50% of original targets, paid in December 2020;
Amended the key strategic initiatives associated with the long-term performance-based cash incentive awards that are payable in March 2022;
Amended the 2020 performance metrics associated with performance stock awards that vest in March 2021;
Awarded time-based restricted stock unit awards to executive and certain key employees in June 2020, with 50% of the units vesting on the first and second anniversaries of the grant date; and
Awarded cash retention bonuses to certain key technology resources in June 2020 in conjunction with our technology transformation initiatives payable upon the completion of two and three years of service.
We believe the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on our operations and global bookings will continue to have a material negative impact on our financial results and liquidity, and such negative impact may continue well beyond the containment of such outbreak.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act") was signed into law, which provides over $2 trillion in economic relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act also modifies sections of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended ("IRC"). Certain IRC modifications relax limitations on deductions, which were enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We did not participate in the CARES Act loan program during 2020 but did benefit from certain payroll-tax related deferrals and credits. The provisions of the CARES Act did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020.
During the year ended December 31, 2020, several of our customers filed for bankruptcy protection in various jurisdictions. Due to our creditor position, we do not expect significant recovery for amounts due to us prior to the customer's filing for bankruptcy protection and have fully reserved for any amounts due; however, we continue to provide services and receive timely payment for post-bankruptcy balances due in most cases.
Factors Affecting our Results
The impacts of COVID-19 on our business as described above are the most significant factors affecting our current results, and they are expected to continue to significantly impact our future results. The following is a discussion of other trends that we believe are additional significant opportunities and challenges currently impacting our business and industry. The discussion also includes management’s assessment of the effects these trends have had and are expected to have on our results of continuing operations. This information is not an exhaustive list of all of the factors that could affect our results and should be read in conjunction with the factors referred to in the sections entitled “Risk Factors,” “Forward-Looking Statements,” and "—Recent Developments Affecting our Results of Operations" included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Technology transformation and change in mix of technology spend
We expect to further enable our technology transformation with incremental operational and capital expenditure investments in 2021 and continued investment over the next few years which will have a material impact on our financial results. We expect to continue to make significant investments in our re-platforming efforts to open source and cloud-based solutions, as previously disclosed, with the goal of modernizing our architecture, driving efficiency in development and ongoing technology costs, further enhancing the stability and security of our network, and complying with data privacy regulations, and in next-generation retailing capabilities, including NDC and personalized offers, LCCs and full-service hotel PMS offerings. In 2021, we expect total capital expenditures to range from $60 million to $100 million. Technology costs include the cost of our technology transformation.
Through our technology transformation efforts, we expect to benefit from lower cloud infrastructure costs and higher margins, with material cost savings realized beginning in 2024. We believe that continued investment in our technology will help to provide us the necessary framework and infrastructure for a secure and stable architecture for our customers, grow our
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addressable market, provide new revenue opportunities, reduce costs and will help to improve sales of our software solutions. However, there are various risks associated with our technology transformation efforts, including not achieving the amount of anticipated cost savings, not completing the steps during their current projected time frame, or changing the approach leading to, among other things, additional changes in our mix of technology spend between operating expense and capitalization.
Geographic mix of travel bookings
The revenue recognized by our Travel Solutions business is affected by the mix between domestic and international travel reservation bookings and the related varying rates paid by airline suppliers. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our mix of transactions shifted during 2020 such that domestic bookings now exceed international bookings, negatively impacting our revenue. The increase in domestic bookings is also partly due to an increase in leisure bookings over business travel. As business travelers have moved to a remote working environment with travel restrictions, leisure travel has increased impacting the domestic and international mix further. Due to our geographic concentration, our results of operations are particularly sensitive to factors affecting North America, which has been accentuated by the impacts of COVID-19. For example, booking fees per transaction in North America have traditionally been lower than those in Europe. As we continue to invest in our technology and expand the travel content and functionality available in our GDS, we anticipate that we will continue to grow global market share. Booking share in the near term, however, could be impacted by the regional mix of travel bookings during recovery from COVID-19. We invest for sustainable share growth, and in certain parts of Asia-Pacific and Latin America, our share may be impacted by travel agency commercial arrangements we have declined to pursue due to credit risk and unfavorable economics. The geographic mix of our Direct Billable Bookings is summarized below:
Year Ended December 31,
20202019
Direct Billable Bookings (1):
North America64 %55 %
APAC10 %20 %
EMEA17 %16 %
Latin America%%
Total100 %100 %
________________________________________________________________________________________
(1) “Direct Billable Bookings” is the primary metric utilized by Travel Solutions to measure operating performance and includes bookings made through our GDS and through our joint venture partners in cases where we are paid directly by the travel supplier.
Recent insolvencies and the impact of COVID-19 on Travel Solutions customers
In 2020, several Travel Solutions customers filed for bankruptcy but continued to operate. In April 2019, a customer of Travel Solutions, Jet Airways suspended flight operations and is now insolvent which negatively impacted our revenue in 2019 and 2020. Additionally, given the uncertainties surrounding the duration and effects of COVID-19 on transaction volumes in the global travel industry, particularly air travel and hotel transaction volumes, including from airlines’ insolvency or suspension of service or aircraft groundings, our provision for expected credit losses increased in 2020 partially due to fully reserving for aged balances related to certain customers and bankruptcy-related reserves. In the future, we may incur additional credit losses if further bankruptcies occur or our customers lack the ability to pay for services performed. Additionally, bankruptcy proceedings may require the renegotiation of contractual terms that may not be favorable. Our revenue has and may continue to be impacted by contracting with our customers, including force majeure provisions and requests to renegotiate the terms of existing agreements prior to their expiration, including providing temporary concessions on contractual minimums. Future revenues may be negatively impacted by, among other things, reduced sales of our software solutions and reduced Passengers Boarded due to delayed or uncertain implementations and insolvencies of airline carriers. See “Risk Factors—Our travel supplier customers may experience financial instability or consolidation, pursue cost reductions, change their distribution model or undergo other changes.”
Increasing travel agency incentive consideration
Travel agency incentive consideration is a large portion of Travel Solutions expenses. The vast majority of incentive consideration is tied to absolute booking volumes based on transactions such as flight segments booked. Incentive consideration, which often increases once a certain volume or percentage of bookings is met, is provided in two ways, according to the terms of the agreement: (i) on a periodic basis over the term of the contract and (ii) in some instances, up front at the inception or modification of contracts, which is capitalized and amortized over the expected life of the contract.
This consideration grew in the double digits on a per booking basis in 2018 due to higher incentives in certain geographical markets and from new customer conversions and reverted to single-digit growth in 2019. Consideration on a per booking basis declined in 2020 as compared to the prior year due the COVID-19 pandemic; however, we remain focused on managing incentive consideration and expect continued single-digit growth in the near term. Although incentive rate increases may continue to impact margins, we expect these increases to be more than offset by growth in Travel Solutions revenue. This
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expectation is based in part on our continuing to offer value added services and content to travel buyers, such as the Sabre Red Workspace, a SaaS product that provides a simplified interface and enhanced travel agency workflow and productivity tools.
Travel buyers can shift their bookings to or from our Travel Solutions business
Our Travel Solutions business relies on relationships with several large travel buyers, including TMCs and OTAs, to drive a large portion of its revenue. Although our contracts with larger travel agencies often increase the amount of the incentive consideration when the travel agency processes a certain volume or percentage of its bookings through our GDS, travel buyers are not contractually required to book exclusively through our GDS during the contract term. Travel buyers may shift bookings to other distribution intermediaries for many reasons, including to avoid becoming overly dependent on a single source of travel content and increase their bargaining power with the GDS providers. For example, certain travel agencies have adopted a dual GDS provider strategy and shifted a sizeable portion of their business from our GDS to a competitor GDS, while other agencies have shifted a sizable portion their business to our GDS. Additionally, the impact of COVID-19 on travel buyers has caused them, and may continue to cause them, to select the GDS with the most favorable terms or contractual commitment.
Increasing importance of LCC/hybrids
LCC/hybrids have become a significant segment of the air travel market, stimulating demand for air travel through low fares. LCC/hybrids have traditionally relied on direct distribution for the majority of their bookings. However, as these LCC/hybrids are evolving, many are increasing their distribution through indirect channels to expand their offering into higher yield markets and to higher yield customers, such as business and international travelers. Other LCC/hybrids, especially start up carriers, may choose not to distribute through the GDS until wider distribution is desired. On October 15, 2019, we acquired Radixx, an airline retailing software provider whose signature products are an LCC passenger service system and internet booking engine. We have invested in Radixx to expand its capabilities and expect to make additional investments to address the LCC space and continue to grow upmarket with a more competitive offering.
Shift to SaaS and hosted solutions by airlines and hotels to manage their daily operations
Historically, large travel suppliers built custom in-house software and applications for their business process needs. In response to a desire for more flexible systems given increasingly complex and constantly changing technological requirements, reduced IT budgets and increased focus on cost efficiency, many travel suppliers turned to third party solutions providers for many of their key technologies and began to license software from software providers. We believe that significant revenue opportunity remains in this outsourcing trend, as legacy in-house systems continue to migrate and upgrade to third party systems; however, the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry may cause delays in these decisions, which may impact new sales during the pandemic and recovery period. The shift from a model with initial license fees to one with recurring monthly fees associated with our SaaS and hosted solutions, has resulted in an ongoing revenue stream based on the number of passengers boarded. However, under the SaaS and hosted solutions revenue model, revenue recognition may be delayed due to longer implementation schedules for larger suppliers. The SaaS and hosted models’ centralized deployment also allows us to save time and money by reducing maintenance and implementation tasks and lowering operating costs.
Growing demand for continued technology improvements in the fragmented hotel market
Most of the hospitality industry is highly fragmented. Independent hotels and small to medium sized chains (groups of less than 300 properties) comprise a majority of hotel properties and available hotel rooms, with global and regional chains comprising the balance. Hotels use a number of different technology systems to distribute and market their products and operate efficiently. We offer technology solutions to all segments of the hospitality industry. Our SynXis Central Reservation System integrates critical hospitality systems to optimize distribution, operations, retailing and guest experience via one scalable, flexible and intelligent platform. We believe the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry highlights the benefits of a scalable solution such as our SynXis Central Reservation System. As these markets recover and begin to grow, we believe both independent and enterprise hotel owners and operators will continue to seek increased connectivity and integrated solutions to ensure access to global travelers. We anticipate that this will contribute to the continued growth of Hospitality Solutions, which is ultimately dependent upon these hoteliers accepting and utilizing our products and services.
Impact of customer consolidation in Hospitality Solutions
Growth through acquisition and brand consolidation is emerging as a strategy for enterprise hoteliers. This has resulted, and may continue to result, in customer de-migration as larger hotel chains consolidate acquired brands onto their existing technology platforms. Certain of our Hospitality Solutions customers were acquired by larger hoteliers, and it is possible that additional customer consolidations could occur in the future. We expect these consolidations to adversely impact revenue growth for the Hospitality Solutions business.
Continued focus by travel suppliers on cost cutting and exerting influence over distribution
Travel suppliers continue to look for ways to decrease their costs and to increase their control over distribution. Airline consolidations, pricing pressure during contract renegotiations and the use of direct distribution may continue to subject our business to challenges. The shift from indirect distribution channels, such as our GDS, to direct distribution channels, may result from increased content availability on supplier operated websites or from increased participation of meta search engines, such as Kayak and Google, which direct consumers to supplier operated websites. This trend may adversely affect our Travel Solutions contract renegotiations with suppliers that use alternative distribution channels. For example, airlines may withhold part of their content for distribution exclusively through their own direct distribution channels or offer more attractive terms for content
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available through those direct channels. This occurred in 2018 when certain European carriers began to withhold part of their content from our GDS to make use of alternative distribution channels, which may adversely affect our future revenue growth. In 2020, we reached an agreement with one such carrier to provide traditional content while enabling content via NDC. However, in North America, which is our largest region, the rate at which bookings have shifted from indirect to direct distribution channels has been relatively consistent for a number of reasons, including the increased participation of LCC/hybrids in direct channels. Over the last few years, notable carriers that previously only distributed directly, including Lion Air, Norwegian and Interjet, have signed agreements with our GDS. In addition, we signed a number of smaller airlines to new participation agreements in 2020, such as Fly Gangwon, Jazeera Airways and Thai Smile Airways. Other carriers such as Southwest Airlines and EVA Airways have further increased their participation in our GDS. Conversely, Air India fully migrated from our GDS during 2019.
These trends have impacted the revenue of Travel Solutions, which recognizes revenue for airline ticket sales based on transaction volumes. Simultaneously, this focus on cost cutting and direct distribution has also presented opportunities for Travel Solutions. Many airlines have turned to outside providers for key systems, process and industry expertise and other products that assist in their cost cutting initiatives in order to focus on their primary revenue generating activities.
Components of Revenues and Expenses
Revenues
Travel Solutions generates revenues from distribution activities through Direct Billable Bookings processed on our GDS, adjusted for estimated cancellations of those bookings. Travel Solutions also generates revenues from IT solutions activities from its product offerings including reservation systems for full-cost and low-cost carriers, commercial and operations products, agency solutions and booking data. Additionally, Travel Solutions generates revenue through software licensing and maintenance fees. Recognition of license fees upon delivery has previously resulted and will continue to result in periodic fluctuations in revenue recognized. Hospitality Solutions generates revenue through upfront solution fees and recurring usage-based fees for the use of our software solutions hosted on secure platforms or deployed through our SaaS and through other professional service fees including Digital Experience ("DX"). Certain professional service fees are discrete sales opportunities that may have a high degree of variability from period to period, and we cannot guarantee that we will have such fees in the future consistent with prior periods.
Cost of revenue, excluding technology costs
Cost of revenue incurred by Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions consists primarily of costs associated with the delivery and distribution of our products and services and includes employee-related costs for our delivery, customer operations and call center teams as well as allocated overhead such as facilities and other support costs. Cost of revenue for Travel Solutions also includes incentive consideration expense representing payments or other consideration to travel agencies for reservations made on our GDS which accrue on a monthly basis. Cost of revenue excludes technology costs, which are presented separately below.
Corporate cost of revenue includes certain expenses such as stock-based compensation, restructuring charges and other items not identifiable with either of our segments.
Depreciation and amortization included in cost of revenue is associated with capitalized implementation costs and intangible assets associated with contracts, supplier and distributor agreements purchased through acquisitions or established with our take private transaction in 2007. Cost of revenue also includes amortization of upfront incentive consideration representing upfront payments or other consideration provided to travel agencies for reservations made on our GDS which are capitalized and amortized over the expected life of the contract.
We have reclassified expenses on our statement of operations to provide additional clarification on our costs and to reflect the Strategic Realignment. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, we reclassified $1,179 million and $997 million, respectively, from cost of revenue to technology costs and $130 million and $140 million, respectively, from cost of revenue to selling, general, and administrative. As a result, cost of revenue decreased by $1,309 million and $1,137 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 respectively.
Technology Costs
Technology costs incurred by Travel Solutions and Hospitality Solutions consist of expenses related to third-party providers and employee-related costs to operate technology operations including hosting, third-party software, and other costs associated with the maintenance and minor enhancement of our technology. Technology costs also include costs associated with our technology transformation efforts. Technology costs are less variable in nature and therefore may not correlate with related changes in revenue.
Depreciation and amortization included in technology costs is associated with software developed for internal use that supports our products, assets supporting our technology platform, businesses and systems and intangible assets for technology purchased through acquisitions or established through the take private transaction in 2007.
We have reclassified expenses on our statement of operations to provide additional clarification on our costs by separately reporting technology costs. For the year ended December 31, 2019, we reclassified $1,179 million from cost of revenue and $106 million from selling, general and administrative to technology costs. For the year ended December 31, 2018, we reclassified $997 million from cost of revenue and $102 million from selling, general and administrative to technology costs.
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Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
Selling, general and administrative expenses consist of professional service fees, certain settlement charges or reimbursements, costs to defend legal disputes, provision for expected credit losses, other overhead costs, and personnel-related expenses, including stock-based compensation, for employees engaged in sales, sales support, account management and who administratively support the business in finance, legal, human resources, information technology and communications.
Depreciation and amortization included in selling, general and administrative expenses is associated with property and equipment, acquired customer relationships, trademarks and brand names purchased through acquisitions or established through the take private transaction in 2007.
We have reclassified expenses on our statement of operations to provide additional clarification on our costs and to reflect the Strategic Realignment. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, we reclassified $130 million and $140 million, respectively, from cost of revenue to selling, general, and administrative and $106 million and $102 million, respectively, from selling, general and administrative to technology costs. As a result, selling, general and administrative expenses increased by $24 million and $38 million for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Intersegment Transactions
We account for significant intersegment transactions as if the transactions were with third parties, that is, at estimated current market prices. Hospitality Solutions pays fees to Travel Solutions for hotel stays booked through our GDS.
Key Metrics
“Direct Billable Bookings” and “Passengers Boarded” are the primary metrics utilized by Travel Solutions to measure operating performance. Travel Solutions generates distribution revenue for each Direct Billable Booking, which includes bookings made through our GDS (e.g., Air, and Lodging, Ground and Sea ("LGS")) and through our equity method investments in cases where we are paid directly by the travel supplier. Air Bookings are presented net of bookings cancelled within the period presented. Travel Solutions also recognizes IT solutions revenue from recurring usage-based fees for Passengers Boarded ("PBs"). The primary metric utilized by Hospitality Solutions is booking transactions processed through the Sabre Hospitality Solutions SynXis Central Reservation System. These key metrics allow management to analyze customer volume over time for each of our product lines to monitor industry trends and analyze performance. We believe that these key metrics are useful for investors and other third parties as indicators of our financial performance and industry trends. While these metrics are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our transaction counts for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges associated with their measurement. In addition, we are continually seeking to improve our estimates of these metrics, and these estimates may change due to improvements or changes in our methodology.
The following table sets forth these key metrics for the periods indicated (in thousands):
 Year Ended December 31,Year-over-Year % Change
 20202019201820202019
Travel Solutions     
Direct Billable Bookings - Air103,331 499,111 491,820 (79.3)%1.5 %
Direct Billable Bookings - LGS21,353 67,197 66,454 (68.2)%1.1 %
Distribution Total Direct Billable Bookings124,684 566,308 558,274 (78.0)%1.4 %
IT Solutions Passengers Boarded322,714 741,107 752,548 (56.5)%(1.5)%
Hospitality Solutions
Central Reservations System Transactions67,046 108,482 88,655