Will the travel industry still be talking about NDC in five years?

The puns and quick questions to complete a travel tech roundtable are often more telling than what’s been said before.

The panelists passed scripted sales messages and are a little more relaxed knowing that the spotlight will soon be turned off.

A panel on the digital transformation of airlines at the recent ACAP Airline Leader Summit in the UK is a good example, when airline and technology representatives were invited to comment on what we might be talking about in five years.

The good news is that it looks like the conversation will have left NDC, but not entirely.

Tamur Goudarzi Pour, Senior Vice President of Channel Management for the Lufthansa Group and commercial director for Swiss airlinesstates that in five years there will be a “kaleidoscope of various retail players playing a role in the chain”.

“At the moment it’s a bit like Pac-Man with everyone trying to swallow someone else, so there’s going to be some consolidation and new players coming in. I think we’ll see some players become much bigger,” he said.

“I just learned that Tripactions is approaching a $10 billion valuation; it had no more than 15 people in 2017, so times are really changing.”

new order

Goudarzi Pour adds that the industry will have made up for “many of the gaps” highlighted in the pandemic from a customer perspective.

“I hope we will have part of a new ordering system already in place in five years. It’s actually ambitious and I believe it’s the next big thing. I think NDC penetration for major carriers will be very important, but there will be a lot of carriers that won’t have a lot of NDCs at that time, so we need to support those as well and see what will be the format so that they also participate in the world of modern distribution.

Returning to order management and the NDC, Bryan Porter, global sales manager for Accelyasays he wants to see the industry lead again when it comes to customer needs and expectations.

“I would see this propelled by the adoption of next-generation order management systems that really allow airlines to become retailers. Beyond that, in terms of NDC, we’re starting to see levels of maturity in terms of adoption, but the real test is actually seeing NDC become dominant in TMCs and enterprises.

Peter Atkinson, head of digital products at Manchester Airports Group, foresees greater access to airline products and services as the industry moves away from silos.

“We’ll have product consolidation and I think we’ll have unique inventory jars and get to a place where we have more channels and more accessibility to products and product collections, at the same time, that we don’t. have never had before.

Build or Borrow

Closing comments also served to summarize much of what had gone before in the discussion, with general consensus on the trend of digital acceleration during the pandemic and its impact in the future.

David Gunnarsson, CEO of Dohop, some airlines believe they have used the pandemic to accelerate their own transformation.

“Maybe they had time to think about these things and might see it as an opportunity to grow their business when COVID was behind us. Either you build a network or you borrow it and we facilitate the borrowing side.

The build-or-borrow philosophy can probably be applied to other delivery technologies as well. Goudarzi Pour says IATA has reinvigorated the ONE Order initiative but, reflecting on some of the past mistakes with NDC, it needs to be implemented with a common approach.

“We’re very active there with a few other airlines together and we think this is one of the first use cases that we need to have a new form of interline calling or how we talk with people. other suppliers, how we talk with car parks, how we talk with rental car companies, how we talk with anyone.

“There will be new technology companies that will hopefully facilitate that and help us along the way, and that will mean that we have to walk together, decide this together so that we don’t have the same situation that we are in. planes with other innovations, like with NDC where it was whoever could run the fastest first who would run hopefully and reach the goal at some point, but in the end we ended up uncoordinated .

“It has to be different, and interlining is one of the best examples where you have to find a common way, so why not have an industry approach and within a reasonable amount of time get a live MVP that can be used between airlines and also other providers and providers to connect auxiliaries to airlines and connect anything we would like to connect.”

Panelists were also asked why the industry hasn’t made better use of the pandemic to be more innovative.

Porter says the industry is facing very big changes in everything it does.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do is remove the friction in terms of onboarding with the customer, but those are big changes, changes in terms of solutions, in terms of the systems we have, how we interact with the customer but also in terms of structure in terms of organization, also in terms of how we are organized as an industry and how we work together.

And, there’s also the industry’s “inherent speculative mindset” to consider, says Gunnarsson.

“If you look at the airlines, they’re super conservative and conservative in the way they go and that’s for good reason. The challenge is how do you separate that mindset into operations where you have to be careful and careful, of what they do on the retail side.