“By accelerating your NDC adoption strategy, you can not only align your strategic goals with the goals of your airline partners – and gain access to all the best content they push down the NDC API. You can also improve your customers’ experiences with increased personalization and value – helping you maximize your conversion rates and revenues,” says Will Owen Hughes, Head of Airline and Agency Distribution, Travelport.
Many travel resellers and agencies are playing a waiting game when it comes to NDC. You may be holding off until the standards are mature enough to support the full range of booking tasks and changes. You may be delaying to see what the impact on your business will actually be before you invest in NDC.
But while delaying your adoption strategy may have been a sensible policy up to now, that’s changing – and fast.
Why you need to think about NDC ASAP
There are many reasons why it’s time to give priority to your NDC adoption. To begin with, the standards now support all of the main functions needed for managing bookings and changes, including shopping, booking, holding, payment, ticketing, exchange, refund, cancellation – as well as the ability to add bundles and ancillaries pre and post-booking. While there are still a few things missing, such as the ability to carve out a single booking from a group booking and make changes, even these details will be worked out very soon. This means that waiting for the standards to ‘mature’ is no longer necessary to get started on your adoption journey.
Aligning your strategy with airline partners and their own goals
The second reason for moving quickly is that airlines are moving fast to deliver their content over the NDC API. Doing this gives them much greater commercial flexibility, with the ability to design their own fare structures and to build offers around specific customer needs.
While this may just seem like good news for airlines, it’s actually good news for your business as well, provided you can begin booking NDC content quickly. Not only will you be in the airlines’ good books, but you’ll also have access to a range of content that simply won’t be available via other channels. In other words, your quest to always deliver the best offers and content for your customers is predicated on your ability to adopt NDC – as soon as possible.
On the flip side, waiting longer could mean you lose out to more agile competitors who can build NDC into their environments faster than you can. There’s still a window of opportunity to become an early adopter, but it certainly won’t last forever.
Delivering more personalized customer experiences to maximize conversion
The fact that airlines will be able to create their own fare structures and build offers around specific customer or ‘persona’ needs is also great news for your business. At the highest level, this means that airlines can create client-specific fares and ancillaries that are packaged into personalized bundles in a way that makes sense for specific corporate clients and their travelers. Airlines can also provide ‘dynamic pricing’ that helps you deliver the best deals for your clients, without waiting for fares to be uploaded into traditional channels.
For you, the ability to deliver dynamic, client-specific and even traveler-specific offers is clearly a major benefit – allowing you to meet your customers’ needs more fully and to build stronger, longer-lasting, more profitable relationships with them than ever before.
Improving customer experiences with ‘entitlement’
Another benefit of NDC for your business is the concept of ‘entitlement’. This is the ability to recognize what perks, ancillaries and other offers an individual booker may be entitled to by considering their loyalty status and/or corporate affiliation. This means that not only will you never charge clients what they should be entitled to for free, but equally importantly, you'll be able to identify and reward loyal and affiliated travelers in the way they deserve.
Reducing mis-selling risks and related penalties
Another way NDC can potentially help your business is by reducing reselling risks. This is because traditional distribution channels require agents to search for an offer and then to create an order based on it. If airlines feel that orders have been sold incorrectly, the result is often a dispute which, in some cases, can result in a fine from the airline.
By allowing you to book offers directly in airline systems, NDC eliminates the risk of mis-selling and fines. This cuts out an unnecessary expense and could ultimately help you to reduce admin costs and improve your bottom line.
Take the next steps on your NDC journey
With NDC's leaderboard of 21 airlines committed to transacting 20% of their content over the NDC API by 2020, the ability to make bookings through the NDC API is now critical to the success of any travel reseller. So if you’ve been waiting for the NDC standards to be finalized before you start your NDC journey, or if you don’t know where to start with your adoption strategy, then it’s time to set some concrete NDC adoption goals.
The good news is that travel technology companies such as Travelport are integrating NDC API content into their platforms and processes, enabling agents to access it from their existing workflows. However, you may need to make a range of other changes to your technology environment to ensure that NDC bookings can be integrated into your existing back-office systems, finance systems, corporate booking tools, and other critical technology platforms.
When it comes to delivering these kinds of changes, the support of knowledgeable technology partners is invaluable. These kinds of partners can not only help you understand the likely impact of NDC on your existing environment, but they can also help you adapt your current platforms and processes to support the full range of NDC-delivered content.
With this kind of support, you can begin booking content on the NDC API faster. You can differentiate your customer experiences. And, crucially, you can build stronger more profitable relationships – both with your airline partners and your clients.