Geneva hosted one of the most interesting events I’ve been to for some time. I was invited to speak at the IATA NDC Business Travel Summit, an event that gathered together 100 executives from across the industry – airlines, technology suppliers, aggregators, GDSs, OBTs, TMCs and Buyers.
The theme was ‘The Future of Air Retailing’ with specific focus on business travel.
Yanik Hoyles, IATA’s prominent NDC expert presenting the objectives of the NDC (New Distribution Capability) initiative, inviting input and discussion from all industry players. He was joined by Festive Road’s Paul Tilstone and Caroline Strachan who moderated a number of sessions, helping to provide further context and input their extensive interviews and discussions they have had with the TMC and Buyer community around the NDC topic.
IATA’s NDC is an XML standard, that aims to help airlines and other travel distributors improve efficiencies in distribution, facilitating richer content, personalisation and ancillary sales. Whilst it’s still a little early to be an accepted standard across the industry, it is encouraging to see the initiative gaining strength and support from some of the biggest players in the market with British Airways, Air Canada and Flybe leading the way as early adopters.
Throughout the event, discussions and emotions ran very high. It’s evident that the subject of standardisation in the travel industry is an emotive subject, but it’s clear that generally it’s accepted that it’s needed to meet the fast changing needs of business travellers. The travel industry has been accused of making things more difficult and complex than they need to be. The fact is that the back bone of the airline and GDS connections still rely on ‘Victorian’ plumbing standards, EDIFACT and a myriad of homegrown XML standards. Changing this is not an easy task, but absolutely necessary in order to stay flexible, competitive and keep costs of distribution down. All airlines remain focused on looking at ways to provide better services to their customers, reduce commoditisation, and in general improve distribution and time to market.
At KDS, we work tirelessly to make the complex world of business travel simpler for our users. According to a Festive Roads survey, corporate buyers spend 15-18% of their time thinking about distribution and content. In my opinion, travel buyers should not need to focus on the technical mechanics and where the content comes from. The booking tool should be sophisticated enough to allow travel buyers to simply ensure that preferred suppliers, negotiated fares and approved ancillary services are delivered in a single interface, supporting their managed travel programme.
KDS Neo and Neo Content Hub was designed and built to support integrated, rich content, ancillaries and a personalised door-to-door booking experience within a controlled managed programme. Staying ahead of the curve, we have supported ancillaries and specific negotiated fares and services for many years and connect to airlines through multiple sources – GDS, aggregator partners and direct connects.
Personally, I think NDC is a really exciting development for the industry, reflecting the direction of simplification and ease of use for the end user that is fundamental to the KDS Neo solutions. I look forward working closer with the NDC standard to enhance the Neo Content Hub bringing an even better, dynamic experience to businesses through an interface that users love to use!