Senior Product Director
NDC has come on light years since it was first announced by IATA. There has been huge momentum among airlines, with IATA’s NDC Leaderboard still growing. Many others have also made their intentions clear in terms of heavily prioritizing API bookings in the future.
But while the industry is finally working together to unlock the potential commercial benefits of NDC, many airlines, travel agents and consultants are still using earlier versions of the NDC schema — mostly version 17.2.
As further development is still needed to address the few remaining functionality gaps in the current schema, adoption delay seems justifiable to users. Just like consumers waiting for the latest operating system release before they change their laptop, many companies are also waiting until the functionality gaps are filled before they embark on any kind of schema upgrade. Airlines also have the added pressure of delivering the committed transactions through 2020, and so have less appetite to change schemas at the moment.
So why update now?
While it’s true that there are still a few minor functionality gaps, I believe that for any new airlines progressing on their NDC journey the time to adopt the latest NDC schema, is now.
For one, you get major advantages compared to previous schema releases. In particular Masked Price indicator, which enables net fares to be sold; better offer commission structure; and Taxonomy, which allows the airlines to better define and describe their products.
When combined with the Travelport Travel Commerce platform, the new schema also allows travel agents to book and manage NDC content directly from within their existing workflows — which is a huge benefit for any agency looking to expand their offers for customers.
Here are 4 key reasons why I think airlines upgrading to the latest schema should be a priority:
- Better end-to-end servicing capabilities are now available
With better structure and data capture in the change notification schema, the new version reduces the requirement for manual customer service interactions for NDC bookings, saving resources and reducing contact centre costs.
One example of a recent schema enhancement for ‘servicing’ is in ‘schedule-change notifications’ for NDC offers, which allows agents to be easily notified about flight time changes in order to communicate this message on to travellers. Additionally, the latest schema also tightens up the time limits used for price guarantees, removing the confusion and misinterpretation that existed in previous schema versions.
Travelport has recently achieved IATA NDC Level 4 certification; ultimately this will enable agents to book, and better service, NDC offers from end to end.
- Upsell fares can be displayed alongside basic fares
For airlines and agencies, the ability to easily see nett fares on search screens is critical — supporting incremental revenue opportunities. The latest schema makes this possible, returning easily identifiable masked fares alongside basic fare options via the API.
When combined with Travelport technologies, fare information coming over the API can be enriched with static content — including inspirational imagery and text — from our platform.
- Standardized ancillary and product features for easier fare comparisons
The latest version of the schema addresses the challenge of lack of standardization between NDC offers from different carriers — particularly in terms of how fare features are displayed in agent search results.
To achieve this, the latest schema includes new ‘Taxonomy’ capabilities that standardizes different fare features — from Wi-Fi and seat types, to different bag types and weights. This allows travel agents and consultants to easily compare flights and to communicate the unique value of different fares to end customers.
- Commissions are easier to manage and collect
In the past, tracking and billing commissions for NDC content was a manual process that increased workloads and costs for the agency community. The latest version of the schema addresses this challenge with features for tracking and collecting commissions for NDC bookings quickly, and with no need for manual interventions.
This is an important development for travel agents and consultants in terms of protecting their revenues and supporting more efficient sales and operational processes.
What’s coming next?
I hope you found this blog on the latest schema release useful. Watch this space for more articles on NDC, in which we will share the outputs from the latest IATA NDC working group, with a particular focus on what’s coming next in the schema.
In the meantime, you can find out more about Travelport’s NDC leadership and capabilities here. You can also get in touch to discuss your NDC strategy with us, and find out how we can help.