The most frequently asked NDC questions

by Business Travel iQ | 08 November 2018

Travelport has revealed what people are asking them about and the answers prove illuminating

Travelport has this week issued a list of the most frequently asked questions around NDC since it became the first GDS to carry out a live booking through NDC with Meon Valley Travel. They have given answers from Ian Heywood, the GDS’s global head of new distribution.

The questions include “Do you think airlines will adopt a carrot or stick approach to encouraging adoption of NDC by travel agents?” – his answer is that airlines are already doing both. Another asked “Have you seen any airlines introduce ancillary products only available via NDC?”. His answer was that this was not happening yet. “However, this is something we expect to happen over time as airlines develop their merchandising strategies,” he said.

Weaved among Heywood’s answers are indications that NDC is still a long way from becoming an everyday reality.

The Travelport list does not name the “major European carrier” on which Meon Valley Travel’s booking was made. This suggests that things are in very early stages if the airline is reluctant to be named.

It also says that the new functionality will be rolled out in Travelport’s Smartpoint system for a number of test agencies in the next few weeks “to ensure the system is working as intended,” said Heywood. “Rollout to further agencies will be subject to the conclusion of a longer-term agreement with the launch airline.”

Heywood’s answers also highlight an interesting challenge for agencies – how to overcome the difference between the way that NDC content is displayed alongside traditional GDS (ATPCO) content.

“NDC is fundamentally a ‘shopping’-led workflow so there are inherent differences in the NDC workflow to the traditional ‘availability’-led ATPCO workflow most agencies use via our desktop solution, Smartpoint. The enhancements we will make will be worked through in conjunction with airlines own NDC implementations throughout 2019,” said Heywood. “Throughout the course of 2019 we will be continuously enhancing Smartpoint to provide greater integration of NDC with traditional content through, for example, fully-aggregated ATPCO/NDC search.”

Heywood also addresses the question of existing commercial models and he says they will be influenced by how individual airlines decide to go to market with NDC. “As always, these will need to recognise the value provided by each party in the booking process. The details will ultimately be ironed out on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

There is much to be worked out in NDC, even at the most basic level of how to show NDC content alongside traditional GDS content. Don’t expect any major changes in what you are being offered by your TMC any time soon.

  • Listen again to our recent webinar, NDC: Where now? with Ian Heywood, Festive Road’s Louise Kilgannon and Clarity’s Pat McDonagh

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