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What corporate travel buyers should consider when signing up for NDC content

Ludo Verheggen

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

One exciting aspect of NDC is its potential to close the gap between the business and leisure experience, which has plagued the corporate travel industry for a long time.

The promise of NDC includes richer, more visual content at the time of booking, with captivating images, videos, virtual tours of flight amenities, pictures, food and beverage options. It can not only give business travelers more information about flight fares, but also bundles of services such as a standard fare with a bag, priority boarding and access to lounge.

And it doesn’t stop there. NDC could offer greater personalization of air offers to corporations. For example, it could help define corporate travel policies more granularly by considering ancillaries to build tailormade packages that meet specific corporate needs. Having said that, NDC is not a silver bullet solution that will solve every challenge travel distribution has faced for the last three decades – it is a technology standard.

NDC is part of the greater travel lifecycle

Today, corporate travelers operate within a comprehensive travel lifecycle, and we’re working with them to ensure their needs are met and their company leaders fully understand NDC. That’s one of the reasons why travel buyers should continue to watch this space closely and be ready with updated policies for an NDC-enabled content future. We feel that corporate travel executives need to be vocal advocates of choice and transparency. They should be able to compare and shop across airlines, ensuring that they are receiving the most value for their travel spend.

This means corporate travel managers need to carefully consider how they measure the value, realized under agreements that involve the purchase of NDC content. They should seek to retain their ability to compare against “public” rates to ensure they receive the value from their airline agreements. For example, Airline A offers your company a 10% discount on published rates. In an NDC world of personalized offers and no published rates, how will you know if you received the expected value outlined in the agreement?

It'll be important for corporations to review their travel policies for employees and align the new content from travel providers or travel management companies with their policies to ensure a consistent and straightforward shopping experience for the traveler. Since NDC will bring with it the ability to provide personalized offers specific for each corporation, or even specific to the individual traveler, corporations must ensure that their policies anticipate and account for this level of personalization.

Servicing is a key element and especially important for corporate travel executives.

Earlier versions of the NDC standard were incomplete as they didn’t go beyond booking and did not address scale and performance, which is needed if NDC is to become a reality across the industry. So now with the level 4 certifications, both as an IT provider and as an aggregator, we’re working hard with industry players to ensure we deliver on the required servicing needs. NDC is not very useful to the corporate traveler unless the booking can be serviced, modified post booking and duty of care can be provided. 

Similarly, consumers won’t adopt it easily if they have to wait for 15 or 30 seconds for NDC offers to start appearing on their online booking tool or mobile phone. And this is where scale and performance guarantees come in. Additionally, we have been working with IATA and several of our airline and agency partners to advocate full standardization – from the standard itself, to how it is implemented in practice around post-booking servicing and performance. In this light, we welcome new levels of certification being introduced by IATA that will help with these objectives and we expect all players to comply with the associated requirements.

Collaboration and focus are key

As the industry moves to embrace new approaches to merchandizing and technology standards such as NDC, we must make sure we keep our ultimate customer, the traveler, in mind. They want the additional service levels that rich, personalized offers represent but they also want to compare and shop for those offers in the channel of their choosing.

At Amadeus, we will aggregate content within theTravel Platform from different sources (be it traditional technology like EDIFACT, NDC or other APIs) and will return these results in a way that will make them easily comparable. We work to take care of the complexity and remove it for corporations and their travelers, in order to make the experience as natural and seamless as possible. This means travel buyers can not only access an extensive range of content thanks to our technology, but also easily compare flights and bundles from multiple sources easier and faster.

As part of ourNDC [X] program, we are working in close partnerships with both travel sellers and airlines from across the industry to develop the best possible user experience – for both business and leisure travel. At the center of all our work to integrate content via NDC capabilities, we make sure that we keep the traveler in mind.

In fact, we justlaunched our Travel API solution which gives airlines greater offer differentiation and travel agencies access to more content and functionality. Early adopters of the solution include AERTiCKET, American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, House of Travel, integrated tourism group TUI, andCarlson Wagonlit Travel. We’re also working with many of our early adopters to consume content via an NDC-connectivity through our leading cloud-based travel agency solution, Amadeus Selling Platform.

NDC is part of a longer journey to greater digitization that the entire industry is on, both airlines and travel sellers. The possibilities for innovating on top of NDC are potentially endless and we can expect continuous innovation over the next 10 years thanks to the new capabilities NDC will offer if we work together as an industry to drive NDC forward.

For more information about NDC and what it means for corporations,check out this recent blog post.


Tags

Travel sellers, Business Travel, Travel Platform, NDC