Travel Agents

Limited awareness of NDC among agents

Anne Majumdar

More than three years since the first mention of a new distribution capability (NDC) to transform the way airline products are distributed, just over half of the agent community claims to have never heard of it.

This is one of the findings of a new study conducted by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents in partnership with members of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – an attempt to find out exactly what agents think of the new plan as it approaches the implementation phase.

However, despite this limited awareness, the agents involved in the report showed “considerable interest” in the program. Why? “Agencies want better access to airlines’ complete catalogue of fares, products and offers – and they believe NDC-enabled processes will help them achieve that,” the report said.

It also found that agents were mainly concerned about the costs involved in NDC implementation, the training and additional complexity involved to use the NDC-enabled processes as well as ongoing product and technology support.

The need for NDC providers to enable booking via GDS native displays and agency desktop applications was also highlighted.

With 15% of the responses garnered from the Australian market, the findings of the report entitled NDC: Travel Agencies’ Enabler to Success, offer important insights into local feelings about NDC.

“This report now provides valuable input on many of the questions being asked by travel agents about NDC as all involved consider moving to an implementation phase, if that is actually possible,” AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said.

“There is no question that travel agents need a level playing field to access airline ancillary products in the future and if NDC is truly the enabler to this, then the global travel agency community has now express its views on this and what they feel needs to happen.”

The GDS are critical to any future success of NDC from the travel agents point of view and it will be interesting now to see what airlines do in response to this report.”

Other findings of the report are as follow:

  • On average 76% of travel agencies book airline ancillary products and services with most using airline websites to do so
  • Agents are concerned about the loss of productivity associated with moving back and forth between their standard screen displays and airline websites in order to book ancillary options
  • Agents recognise that airline websites offer the most complete selection of airline product and service options and they believe they are at a competitive disadvantage owing to this disparity
  • A majority of agents believe NDC can help them be more competitive and customer-focused and will make selling airline ancillary products more efficient
  • Travel agents expect to be compensated for selling ancillary products and services

To view the report in full, click here.

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