How the NDC standard is changing the face of travel buying

Research shows lack of traveller risk management programmes
Phone:+45 4363 2266

The New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard has been developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a way to make purchasing airfares an intuitive experience for customers. 

Buyers are being offered a more personalised service, which is meant to echo that found on sites such as Amazon. 

Paul Tilstone, chief executive of consultancy Festive Road, has written a white paper on the subject for the Institute of Travel and Meetings entitled: 'The future of airfare distribution and NDC'. 

The idea is to help companies understand how they can best make use of the standard. It is a process which has already been adopted by two airlines and is set to be taken up by at least eight more this year alone. 

According to the IATA, "the NDC Standard will enable the travel industry to transform the way air products are retailed to corporations, leisure and business travellers". 

Help create travel programmes designed for the individual 

Mr Tilstone points out that it is important for businesses and their travel management companies (TMCs) to put an end to a 'one size fits all' approach to travel programmes. 

Instead, they should be tailored to suit individual needs. By examining cultural and commercial objectives, a business can begin to build a programme that is best suited for them. 

TMCs should ask their clients whether they are happy with an open booking policy, or if they have to abide by a more regimented programme. 

It’s about more than just cost 

In his white paper, Mr Tilstone points out that many relationships between procurement and suppliers are based solely on cost, but he suggests this is a mistake. TMCs "should develop a more holistic approach, encompassing pricing, distribution, loyalty and marketing". 

By doing so, TMCs can establish bundle offers for clients by showing loyalty to specific booking channels. This can lead to cheaper deals, a better experience for the traveller and an improved relationship between the buyer and the airline. 

However, Mr Tilstone suggests that in order to get to this point, buyers must have a good handle on what type of traveller they are dealing with and what their needs are. 

Understand how technology is used within a TMC   

There are three different ways TMCs can manage their booking processes. Some choose to outsource their booking technology to a third-party, others have their own in-house tech, while there are those who consider themselves technology-led and are early adopters of the latest systems.   

Mr Tilstone points out that a fourth way of doing business is becoming more prevalent, and that is those who are choosing stand-alone technology. 

In order to determine how much control a buyer has over NDC content, a TMC must get the right mix between how much they outsource and what they do in-house. 

Software like ProCon Solution's ProTAS system automates all mid-back office processes and it can handle bookings from non-Global Distribution Sources (GDS). This means a TMC is not restricted to using a GDS. It has the flexibility to make bookings through other channels. 

Data is king 

In order to make the most of airline distribution offers, TMCs need to retain customer data or at least help influence where it should be kept - the client, TMC, in the online booking tool, or should open access be given. This helps to ensure compliance and data protection are not breached. 

Remember, as the white paper states, "more data will equal better personalised offers". 

ProCon Solution A/S
Herstedøstervej 27-29
DK-2620 Albertslund
Phone: +45 4363 2266