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The airline industry has been criticised for being “too slow” in introducing changes to how it sells ancillary products using its New Distribution Capability (NDC) project.
IATA unveiled new technology standards as part of NDC five months ago. These are designed to create a more personalised way of selling flights and ancillaries through TMCs and other indirect channels.
But panellists during a discussion on NDC at the Business Travel Show in London said that airlines needed to speed up the process of implementing these changes.
ITM chairman Mark Cuschieri said: “We are very supportive of NDC because it could be potentially beneficial. But it’s not happening fast enough.
“Anything that enriches content has got to be a good thing. We want transparency to ensure that an informed choice can be made at the point of sale. Where it differentiates on price that raises concerns for us.
“Buyers are not averse to change but they don’t have the tools in the market to enable this to happen.”
Cuschieri added that self-booking tools provided by corporate travel suppliers currently lacked the same functionality and content offered by airlines’ own consumer websites and platforms.
Moshe Rafiah, CEO of airline technology provider Travel Fusion, said: “The vision is great and the promise is there. But when you focus on the ground, progress is painfully slow.”
Rafiah added that NDC could effectively find itself “bypassed” by other technology developments in the next few years.
Amadeus’ UK managing director Champa Magesh said that buyers should not have to care about technology standards such as NDC.
“Travel buyers should not have to worry about it if companies are doing the job properly,” she added.
Paul Tilstone, CEO of specialist consultancy Festive Road, acts as a NDC corporate envoy for IATA.
“We are only at the beginning of the process and buyers have the opportunity to shape it,” he said. “British Airways has an API for choosing seats which you could only previously do as a consumer through the website.
“These are the first steps to real personalisation and richer content. NDC could potentially solve a lot of niggling issues such as providing a better user experience.”