On 23rd October 2018, we announced that our NDC solution was live with a UK-based travel agency, Meon Valley Travel, and that we had successfully become the first GDS operator to manage the commercial booking of flights using the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) NDC technical standard.
Given the impact NDC is having on our industry, and as a leader in providing choice through content to our travel partners, we’re sharing the learnings and insights from this early phase of deployment of our NDC solution. We’re now extending NDC access to a growing number of travel agents in the UK and Europe and have four new airlines beginning Alpha phases during the first quarter of 2019.
Here are five insights from our first few weeks operating a live NDC booking solution:
1. Agent familiarity is crucial
NDC content for Travelport connected agents is made available for booking through Smartpoint, our agency desktop solution. As this is a familiar system, installation, navigation and booking flow have all been smooth, despite the change in the source of the content which is being booked.
2. Integration with existing workflow is essential
As above, agents are booking in a familiar solution, which has kept the process simple. They’re also able to view NDC in the same workflow as other content, without leaving their desktop, making the process streamlined. This integration means agents can compare fares between the GDS and NDC connections and make an informed decision on which booking would best suit their passenger.
3. A considered roadmap with built-in flexibility is the right approach
Incrementally building out the functionality of Travelport’s NDC booking solution is working well and enabling us to learn from agency feedback and integrate suggested enhancements into our development plans. We’ve also benefitted from following the SAFe framework and Lean Agile principles so we’re consistently reviewing the landscape and feature driven roadmap to ensure what we build delivers value to our customers.
4. Our agency customers want access to NDC content
We started the extension to our next group of customers – Brightsun Travel, Global Travel Management, Gray Dawes Group, TAG, Travel Counsellors and Travel & Transport Statesman – this week in the UK with a further group of agencies joining shortly. While we understand the demand and are working hard to ensure we can provide access to NDC content as soon as possible, we’re taking a cautious and considered approach in rolling this out, to ensure we maintain consistency. This is a major milestone in air retailing, and we have to get the plumbing right from the beginning.
5. We continue to collaborate to ensure NDC works for everyone
There is a long way for airlines to go with personalization, dynamic pricing and a targeted retailing environment. Agents need familiarity and consistency with their current booking tools. We’re likely to be operating in a world of mixed content for many years. It’s essential that we work together to drive NDC forward.