Five takeaways from our Travel Tech Talk webinar on NDC

Ludo Verheggen

Director of Global Air Content Adoption Strategy, Travel Channels, Amadeus

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NDC (New Distribution Capability) is one of the biggest buzzwords in the travel industry today. So recently, I hosted our first webinar of the Travel Tech Talk series for our Travel Channels customers to delve deeper into the topic. If you missed the webinar, don’t worry! Here’s the linkto watch it.

And if you don’t have 45 minutes to watch it all, these are the five main takeaways: 

Back to basics: What is NDC and what is the Amadeus NDC [X] program?

NDC isn’t new. Over the last few years, the industry has embraced and invested in NDC, keeping up with the broader digitalization trend across the travel industry. The close collaboration of the sector has enabled us to now start driving NDC adoption globally. Being heavily involved, we’ve made great progress since the inception of the standard and are excited about the big milestones we’ve achieved and our plan for the year ahead.

We launched our NDC [X] programlast year, bringing together the NDC activities across Amadeus both as an IT provider and aggregator. The program takes an agile approach and focuses on practical use cases of IATA’s NDC standards in a test and learn environment. Our focus from day one has been to make sure that our solutions offer end-to-end capabilities; our mission is to ensure that it can be deployed on large scale and adopted worldwide.

Our collaborative approach has been very productive, and we’ve come a long way since the program’s inception last year. We’ve built and tested NDC-enabled solutions with our travel seller partners and have started piloting with live NDC bookings in productionsince November last year with our driver customer Travix. And we’re on track with the roadmap that we laid out 18 months ago, which includes the rollout of our NDC-enabled Selling Platform Connect solutionin the coming months.

Key challenges to reach global adoption of NDC and what Amadeus is doing to overcome them

To reach true global adoption of NDC, there are three key challenges

First, the lack of a true standardization is one of the major challenges in the industry. Airlines use different versions of NDC and support different functionalities/use cases. There needs to be a standard understanding of the standard for it to truly work for the industry as a whole.

Second, the performance and scalability need to be ramped up. The response times are not up to the mark today, but this should improve as the standard matures. The personalized nature of NDC means that more transactions need to be done. Hence, it is important that NDC-enabled APIs support large amounts of transactions per second.

And finally, for NDC to succeed, parties involved need to benefit from it economically and ensure its global adoption. 

So, to mitigate these challenges, at Amadeus, we’ve taken an agile approach to develop our NDC aggregation solutions. Based on inputs from partners, we have prioritized certain functionalities like credit card payments.

Our focus is also on servicing an end-to-end flow to ensure agencies cannot only shop and book NDC content but also service the reservation after booking. This will encourage integration into the downstream process of the agency.

And for us, collaboration is key! Global adoption can only become a reality if we work together as an industry. By joining hands with IATA, and our airline and travel agency partners, we can openly discuss how to drive NDC forward. It will strengthen our aim to bring NDC industrialization and make it work for all.

Ready to launch Amadeus’ NDC-enabled solutions. What travel agencies need to do to prepare! 

NDC is a reality! We’ve been evolving our Amadeus Travel Platformto allow it to consume NDC content. The solutions we have developed will bring all sources, including NDC together in one platform, and we are now ready to bring our first NDC-enabled solutions to market.

Travix has been using our new NDC-enabled Web Services and has had live bookings in production since November. We will gradually roll it out in the next months with a handful of early adopters. This solution will support shopping, booking and servicing, with more functionalities to be added in the coming months. Then we have our Selling Platform Connect solution, the cloud-based agency platform of which we’re currently testing the user-interface with Flight Centreand look forward to start deploying globally in a few months. 

We’re also working on integrating NDC in our flagship online booking tool, Amadeus cytric Travel & Expense to make sure our corporate customers can access NDC content in their trusted booking environment.

Having said that, our aim is to continuously improve our NDC-enabled solutions by adding new functionalities and content. Thanks to all of our solutions being backed by the Amadeus Travel Platform, they allow for an aggregated search from the beginning. This means agents will be able to easily compare search results from both NDC and traditional EDIFACT sources, as well as other APIs. We will support public and negotiated NDC fares and the possibility to easily add ancillary services like, for example, seats and bags, to NDC bookings. 

We will also allow an agent to service NDC bookings by performing a void, refund or a cancellation – as it is important for our travel seller partners. We’ll be supporting different payment formats like credit card and BSP or ARC cash settlements and provide a handoff to the mid-and back office systems of our travel seller customers based on A.I.R.

We’ll continuously be enhancing our solutions to add new functionalities and content over the coming months and years. It’s our role to manage the technical integration of the content. And to make sure that you as an agency get the most out of NDC, you need to prepare as well.

Web Services users will have to implement our new NDC verbs to be able to consume NDC content. Selling Platform users need to make sure that they are working with our cloud-based Selling Connect solution and have started to use our All Fares graphical user interface. Check out this video to see how easy it is to book NDC content in Amadeus Selling Platform Connect.

Understanding the business model of NDC

Being a new messaging standard, NDC is purely a technology change. This means, NDC can be tailored to suit a variety of business models. We’re currently in discussions with our partners and we’re confident of finding a way to get the economic model to work for all.

Content fragmentation & the influence of NDC

Content fragmentation is a growing concern for travel agencies. While NDC is one piece of the puzzle, today we have more content sources such as NDC, EDIFACT, and other APIs. Going forward, we imagine a world where all these different content sources will exist alongside each other for many years ahead. However, the good thing is that NDC is a new standard and can enable consistent multi-channel distribution.

Amadeus is committed to resolve the issue of content fragmentation across the industry. Our aim is to provide travel agencies access to a full range of travel offerings on a single platform, without the need for more expensive and less scalable alternatives.

Our Amadeus Travel Platform brings together all relevant content. This includes air, hotel, car, and insurance, from any source to be distributed via any channel or device. We’re also allowing comparisons and bookings to happen in a uniform and transparent way through Amadeus.

With the Amadeus Travel Platform as the technological backbone to our vision to create a Live Travel Space, and with close collaboration of all travel players in the industry, we will be able to create a better experience for travelers at every point of their trip. 

To find out more about NDC check out www.amadeus.com/ndcor watch thefull recording of the webinar here. The next webinar of the Travel Tech Talk series is all about the Amadeus Travel Platformso stay tuned to our blog for the key takeaways.


Leisure Travel, Travel Platform, Travel sellers, Live Travel Space, GDS, Business Travel, NDC