“If you ask 50 travel people what NDC is you get 60 different answers”: So what should the CEO of a TMC know about NDC? ?Actually it’s not easy to be a CEO and get your mind around every topic in your company, from growth opportunities to gender diversity, from market trends to new technologies, from agile competitors to staffing.
The story of NDC started in 2011. Airlines had built a strong commercial capability on their websites, they could sell any product directly to customers. But roughly half of customers prefer to shop through a travel agency. Airlines’ ability to sell their products through travel agents lagged behind the direct sales. Airlines needed a new capability to distribute their products using APIs and came to IATA for a technical standard. IATA launched a program to develop the technical standard and to support its adoption by the travel industry – this program was called New Distribution Capability (NDC) ?
At the beginning “travel people” asked many questions, like: is NDC a database? is it a new GDS? is it a bypass? is it a commercial model? Many questions that tell as much about the new API standard as about the fears or concerns in the industry. By now the “travel people” have understood that the new capability is replacing the previous capability, which required airlines to file schedules and fares and to let third parties create offers on their behalf.
10 years down the road, the airlines who distribute through travel agents and who want to provide more information than schedule and fare, have implemented NDC and negotiated commercial conditions with their partners. For a TMC it means three things:
1) Access airline NDC content, from existing GDS, from new content aggregators or directly from airlines ✈️
2) Equip your staff with tools that can handle the NDC content alongside the other content coming from GDS or other APIs ??
3) Engage your customers about the new content and how it helps them meet their travel policy and objectives (health, environment, accessibility, etc.) ?
By the way, NDC was just the beginning of the digital transformation of airline distribution. The best is yet to come ?