One of the main reasons behind IATA's New Distribution Capability (NDC) was to open airline content to new technology providers, and with Google quietly exploring it, other tech giants and startups alike will follow.
NB This is a viewpoint by Eric Lehmann, CEO of Jet Messaging Technologies.
But before this can happen, we need to understand the full extent of the changes that are needed, what is driving these changes and what it is that needs to be changed.
Travel merchandising is evolving beyond distribution, search, and purchase. New types of travel purchasing experiences throughout every stage of the traveler journey are evolving to become more customer-centric.
Travel inventory is no longer a commodity -- it can be positioned to build through more personalized offerings.
This evolution is also transforming how solutions are developed. In the past, business determined the course of technology. In today’s fast-paced, innovation-led world, it is advances in technology which dictate the direction businesses need to take.
With the change in how solutions are created comes a change in the tools used to create them. Developers use APIs, schemas, and datasets -- not spreadsheets or Powerpoint.
These new technologies bring unlimited potential for creativity but they also bring exponential complexity, particularly as more data sources are used.
This aggregate complexity is expressed as a function of both depth and breadth. Singularly complex standards such as IATA NDC combine with the challenges of integrating a large number of simpler technologies such as RESTful APIs provided by Facebook, Google, and Uber.
These APIs are often simple to define and understand compared with standards such as NDC and ones from OTA (Open Travel Alliance), which have to build intricate business logic into their schema definitions.
These major industry initiatives require an efficient collaborative approach to get the standards adopted and implemented in the marketplace. The designers are the starting point in providing well-defined schemas and extensive, easy-to-understand documentation, examples, and use cases.
However, even the best documentation still has to describe complex rules while summarizing the historically convoluted travel industry business logic.
Mirroring the shift from innovation being led by business to innovation being led by technology, what will truly accelerate NDC adoption will be not only the resources provided by IATA but also the tools developed by the software industry to make implementing the standard easier.
Existing air inventory and booking systems are not made for modern distribution channels such as NDC, so to realise the full benefits of IATA's initiative there needs to be a new breed of technology solutions.
IATA calls this “Simplifying the Business” (StB), but how can you introduce simplicity when you run on complexity?
The fact is that the current systems are too complex to support simplicity and existing solutions providers are slow to change because of significant investments in their current platforms.
There needs to be new systems that are built from the ground up in order to support IATA’s vision.
To simplify the business, we first need to simplify the systems used to drive it. NDC-Xpress by Farelogix, HP’s Passenger Service Solution, the Datalex Commerce Platform, Vayant OneSearch and Jet Messaging’s JMT Travel Libraries are just a few of the earliest tools available to help airlines, agencies, and travel startups take advantage of this new distribution capability.
The strength of these new tools will be in reducing complexity and distributing travel products consistently across an increasing number of sales channels, by packaging and selling travel services that are more similar to consumer retail than traditional inventory distribution.
By taking advantage of these tools and introducing NDC functionality, tomorrow’s travel retailers will be able to distribute their products easier, cheaper, and to a wider market, and they can pass richer and more personalized offerings on to their customers.
NB This is a viewpoint by Eric Lehmann, CEO for Jet Messaging Technologies. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.
NB2Image by Shutterstock