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Is the Travel Sector Ready for NDC?

Posted by Mike Atherton on 03 November, 2016

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The question of how to improve or standardise distribution of travel data has been on the cards since IATA published its Resolution 787 document in October 2012. IATA’s aim is to “allow an airline to make sales offers to travel agents without them being prepared by intermediaries,” allowing them to define and price their products as they see fit by creating a new, XML-based standard for the travel industry to adopt.

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Four years on, we ask what progress has been made and how likely it is that it will be widely adopted, as is hoped, by 2020.

The Latest Updates

The third edition of IATA’s ‘NDC Change Readiness Guide’ aims to support airlines as they plan for NDC. It provides a more detailed overview of the benefits of the NDC standard for airlines of all sizes, as well as the opportunities provided to new market entrants. The conversation is clearly moving from NDC-as-a-theory to what it will be like in practice and through the process of implementation.

Are Airlines Ready to Standardise?

According to a recent survey by IATA, at least 90 airlines will be ready to adopt NDC by 2020. Many others wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they would be ready, but couldn’t commit to the timeline. The survey noted that there was a particularly positive response from low-cost carriers. In response to the data, the chairman of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance, Jayson Westbury, said that the intermediaries are ready to “embrace the standard” over the coming years.

However, not all industry experts share this optimism. Speaking at a recent panel at Flight Global/T2RL, Jim Davidson, president and Chief Exec of Farelogix, told the audience that only 10-15 airlines in the world have control over the offers required for NDC. What’s more, he suggested that many airlines will need to implement a number of additional systems, for everything from pricing and merchandising to scheduling and availability, before the standard can be adopted.

Clearly, NDC adoption isn’t happening tomorrow. Compared to the rapid transformations going on in the wider digital world, the rate of change is glacial, but that itself is a cause for concern. The lasting impression given by the panel at Flight Global/T2RL was that ‘developments with NDC and online distribution in general are going to make the landscape more complex’ rather than less so.

What Can TMCs Do to Prepare?

If you haven't already started, now is the time to start considering NDC adoption implications for your TMC. Being able to integrate data from standardised and non-standardised sources will be crucial, with travel APIs providing the key to staying ahead of the industry's glacial pace.

We specialise in integrating with travel data, of all types of sources, in our software platform and travel apps, which can manage itineraries and documents as well as merchandising. Our API can help you get clarity from your data - find out more today.

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