Understanding of NDC still growing

When IATA introduced its New Distribution Capability (NDC) in 2012, there was some confusion about exactly what it was, and in many cases, that confusion turned to fear.

Today, that fear has largely dissipated, which experts attribute to education and time. And while the industry’s overall understanding of what NDC is still lags, IATA said it has been cheered by travel agents’ level of understanding.

“There was an initial disconnect between agencies and IATA on what NDC was intended to be,” said Jay Sorensen, president of the consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany. “And that initial impression, I think, set the discussion up to be negative right at the beginning.”

Analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group said NDC was initially misunderstood.

“I think initially when NDC was proposed, it was interpreted as a solution designed to cut out GDSs from the shopping and booking process,” he said. “Or, if not cut them out entirely, substantially reduce their role of involvement. That concerned agents, because GDSs are their primary gateway to airline content and their primary technology system.”

Time has made it clearer that NDC will actually benefit agents by offering them enhanced products to sell to their clients.

But while the initial fear has dissipated, confusion still reigns. An IATA study released last fall revealed that more than 50% of agents surveyed had not heard of NDC before taking the survey.

While NDC program director Yanik Hoyles called that 50% do know a “fantastic achievement” and said IATA continues to offer educational opportunities to the industry, he acknowledged that room for improvement remains.

Sorensen said education levels will likely increase as more technologies and booking processes powered by NDC come into use, but that is something that will take time.

“It reminds me of the tremendous power of water,” he said. “You can carve granite over the course of time.”

Harteveldt said he hoped that the level of understanding in the agent community would increase over the next 12 to 18 months as technologies are piloted and further developed.

“It is absolutely incumbent on IATA, the GDSs, airlines and anyone else who’s involved with offering an NDC-based product or processes to make sure the agency community is educated,” he said.

Most agree, though, that NDC will benefit agents with better products. Harteveldt also said it will restore to agents some of their own value, which they feel has been lost to airline websites that already offer a full assortment of ancillary products, branded fares and the like.

“It may not be perfect,” he allowed. “But it does help agents become more competitive, and it should help agents run their businesses in a much more efficient manner than they are able to now because of the multiple steps some have to take to serve clients, to book things.”

Source: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Travel-Technology/Understanding-of-NDC-still-growing?ct=tech

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