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NDC (New Distribution Capability) is here and has the potential to bring opportunities and value to all stakeholders in the travel industry – travellers, airlines and yes – travel agents too.

These were the words of Jan Buyckx, Manager of Air Solutions Strategy and Data Sourcing at Amadeus. Buyckx was speaking at the ASATA Innovation Summit on 14 March 2019. “NDC is part of a longer journey to greater digitization that the entire industry is on. The possibilities for innovating on top of NDC are potentially endless and we can expect continuous innovation over the next 10 years thanks to the new capabilities NDC will offer,” he said.

NDC explained – in brief

For African travel agents who haven’t heard of the New Distribution Capability yet – here’s a quick overview: NDC was created by IATA and is an XML-based data transmission standard that will enable travel companies – from airlines to travel sellers – to evolve travel distribution and merchandising.

The NDC journey is a long one and as an industry, we’re only at the beginning of it. A lot of progress has been made since NDC was launched in 2011 and the industry is now at the stage where we have the pre-requisites in place and we are ready to push for industrialization of the NDC standard.

What can NDC potentially deliver?

  • NDC could bring richer content at the time of booking – more images, information, videos, traveler reviews and also bundles of services.
  • Accessing NDC content alongside other content in one platform will allow travel sellers to serve travelers simply, quickly and accurately, and offer more personalized trips.
  • Having access to this NDC content in a platform built on open systems will allow everyone to merchandise effectively in all channels.
  • Specifically for corporations, they will have the opportunity to define more granular corporate policies, taking into account ancillaries and personal packages. This means business travelers could have access to richer content which goes beyond the fare and includes a bundle of services like VIP parking, lounge access and priority boarding.

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating

Many travel agents have been asking a lot of questions about the adoption and implementation of NDC. At the ASATA Innovation Summit, one agent asked: “How is this going to impact our workflow, and do airlines understand that the channels they use must work within our workflow?”

Buyckx says, NDC has matured significantly since it was introduced and has now reached a point where we can start talking about its industrialization. Amadeus has taken this challenge head-on. Working closely with industry partners to drive adoption, we are supporting airlines and travel sellers on the NDC journey.

With innovation at its core, Amadeus’ NDC-X is a dedicated program to drive the industrialization of NDC and ensure it works for all travel players. The program brings together all the NDC activities across Amadeus – as an IT provider and aggregator – and focuses on practical use cases of IATA’s NDC standard, in a test and learn approach, in order to deliver improved capabilities for the industry.

As part of the program, one of the major developments in the coming year will be the continued evolution of the Amadeus Travel Platform which brings together airline, hotel, alternative lodging, rail, ground transport and in-destination content all in one place. This includes NDC content, which we are actively working on with airlines and travel sellers around the world.

Buyckx also says full scale global adoption is needed to deliver the return on investment that NDC promises, but for that, there’s still some work to do. Key capabilities are only now being put in place, true standardization needs to be further enforced, and scalability needs to be achieved.

It is here where the Amadeus NDC-X program is beneficial for the industry Buyckx says. There’s growing awareness and engagement from the travel seller community, and a critical mass of airlines is making serious investments. Work and investment has been done on all sides of the industry – including Amadeus.

Buyckx concluded by saying that Amadeus is committed to NDC, and is working with all players of the industry to ensure we can unlock new value for travelers, and in so doing, generate more business for all.