NDC – yet another industry acronym or an opportunity for travel agents to show value

The share of airline tickets being sold by agents has been declining as airlines increasingly choose to distribute their products through direct digital channels.

The way the world searches, plans, and buys air travel is continuously changing. Gone forever, on most airlines, is the time when a traveller or travel manager need focus only on routes, schedules, and airfare to determine the “best” flight for a journey.

Many airlines now offer “Fare Families” or “Branded Fares” to distinguish their fare products from one another, and from those of their competitors, and to help travellers find the value they seek.

Airlines’ ancillary product-focused business models extend choice and control to the traveller by letting them select, or decline, various airlines features and amenities, resulting in a more complex planning and booking process.

Enter NDC…

To help airlines, travellers, and the world’s travel agency community improve the process of searching, booking, and extracting value from scheduled airline flights,

IATA has been spearheading the development of the New Distribution Capability (NDC), a series of XML-based schemas that airlines can use to improve flight search, booking, and transaction processes via third-party channels, including GDSs and travel agencies.

NDC is designed to help airlines and agencies shift travellers’ flight purchase decision-making from commodity-like comparisons of schedule and price to a more robust, experience- and value-focused process.

How will it work?

NDC’s schemas will allow the airlines that opt to use it create personalised, relevant offers to travel agencies and their clients via the distribution channels agencies use, such as GDSs.

The objective of NDC is to help travel agencies across all segments – including retail leisure agencies, TMCs, OTAs, and others – become more competitive with airline direct channels.

NDC should enable agencies and their travellers to search and book flights based on what the traveler wants, from a fare that offers just a “seat and seatbelt” to a more comprehensive experience that includes multiple amenities and services.

Business travellers using a TMC should see their negotiated fares and any benefits negotiated between their employers and their preferred carriers. Elite-tier airline loyalty members should see the perks provided as a result of their loyalty status.

Find out more…

The recent NDC study conducted by the WTAAA indicated that travel agents in all markets had a lack of understanding about it, but highlighted that NDC’s promise would only be fulfilled if all members of the NDC provider community committed themselves to understanding, supporting and fulfilling agencies’ unique and specific needs to successfully and efficiently serve their clients once NDC is brought to market.

For more information about NDC, visit IATA’s dedicated NDC Programme Page.