The mood music around NDC has changed over the past few months - the sometimes melodic but often cacophanous background is now more coherent, more harmonious and more listened to. But some fine-tuning is still needed.
At the recent GBTA Convention in San Diego, educational sessions around NDC were standing room only. Or they would have been standing room only if standing had been allowed. Instead, people turning up ten minutes early found all seats taken and were shepherded to an area where the sessions could be heard on audio.
The popularity of the sessions at the event is a clear indication that interest in NDC is arguably at an all-time high.
One reason why there has been a change in the perception of NDC within the corporate travel community is that there are now serious commitments in place between the tech giants and some big TMCs. In particular, announcements from Amadeus about NDC-X and Sabre about Beyond NDC released in the run-up to GBTA have set the tone. Tarvelport has also been vocal on its commitment to NDC.
As part of tnoozLIVE@GBTA presented by BCD Travel, three senior execs with different takes on NDC talked to tnooz about the next twelve months and beyond.
Thane Jackson, vice president of global distribution and channel strategy for BCD Travel, believes
"We will start to see the convergence of a number of different streams of technology work that has happened, and the major IT companies will start to industrialize NDC solutions that the airline industry can use...There will be short-term solutions in the next quarter, they will be ramped up in the first quarter of 2019 and as we get into the latter part of 2019 we will start to see the deployment of proper NDC solutions."
However, he was quick to add that proper is different from the end-game.
"It won't do everything the industry wants but we will have moved to a much more positive place and we will see the beginnings of the technology that will allow for proper personalisation and tailored offers."
The travel buyers' take on NDC was explained by Jason Kramer, a management consultant for Advito. His stance is that buyers "welcome having something tangible to play with". He added:
[NDC] has been talked about as a concept for years, but now it's coming to market and this is allowing buyers to see what it can do for their travel program, what it can do in the air space, what it means for travellers."
Mike Premo as CEO of ARC offered another perspective, namely the role of NDC as a stepping stone towards One Order, another long-term IATA initiative which many in the industry see as equally important as NDC. Premo explained that the initial focus of NDC was around offer management - "how do you get an offer from the airline through the distribution channels to the agency or end-user."
Order management is different. Premo explained:
"The end-game for airlines [with order management/One Order] is to make a ticket transaction a much more standard e-commerce transaction. By doing so, airlines can then enabled normalised e-commerce transactions with other parties, be that hotels or even sun-tan lotion for your beach vacation.
"This is what airlines want to do, but they need a way to fulfill this, but not with an e-ticket, because Maiu Jim sunglasses don't know what an EMD is..."
Here's the 13-minute video interview in full.