Prepare Your Corporate Travel Program for NDC
The airline industry is developing New Distributions Capability (NDC) that will reshape the corporate travel industry for buyers and travelers alike.
This new capability will change the way in which buyers purchase air travel. While it's a new XML format that will create a new platform for sourcing air travel, it's also recognition of changing corporate consumer demands for transparency and flexibility. Corporate travel buyers will have to discover best practices to incorporate this tool into their relationships with airlines.
So far, 44 airlines have signed on with the International Air Travel Association to implement the new XML-based NDC data transmission standard. Implementing the new standard will address the industry's current distribution limitations: product differentiation and time-to-market, access to full, rich content and a transparent shopping experience. Simply put, the NDC Standard enhances the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents, according to the IATA. It will overcome the limitations of the current protocol, Edifact, an EDI standard. The new XML standard will encode content in a format that is readable by both machines and humans.
The standard will allow for a higher level of content to include photos and full information about a travel purchase and will encourage company and traveler personalization. Rates and all facets of a travel purchase will be open and transparent. The information will be platform- and channel-agnostic so that it can be used in any NDC-capable channel.
As a technical standard, NDC will make it easier for airlines and travel management companies to share information, including the full range of an airline's offerings and ancillaries such as seat selections, baggage fees and boarding privileges. With NDC, travel agents and buyers will be able to complete transactions for all services on a single platform, rather than having to navigate a global distribution system.
With NDC, a travel agent will be able to view more information about a flight on one screen, and additional information about options will be easily visible. The system can also remember traveler preferences so the agent knows the traveler likes an aisle seat in business class and will purchase Wi-Fi. With NDC, traveler preference or corporate policies can be part of the booking from the beginning rather than add-ons to the transaction.
Airlines will be able to display information about their fares that justify pricing, such as more legroom, free Wi-Fi, free bags or whatever their options might be. That information will be more visible to travel buyers.
Using NDC will give corporate travel buyers more insight and control than they have ever had before. Buyers will be able to use the customization and personalization features to enforce travel and spending policies. For example, if company policy allows a class upgrade for travel legs over a certain threshold, that preference can be built into the system to the traveler or booker does not have to ask for it each time. Travel procurement systems can restrict travel to preferred suppliers and corporate business rules. It will be easier to see the reason for differences in rates among flight options so procurement can justify the choices to travelers.
The deeper level of information will aid in cost control and forecasting to deliver a big picture view of the corporate travel landscape. With business rules, travel procurement control ancillary purchases, and automate them when desired. Air travel expenses can be reported in real-time for improved management. Finally, a better user experience translates into a higher level of adoption, so a larger portion of travel is managed according to company policies. Automating corporate travel expense approval so travelers get reimbursed quickly while reducing the cost of management will encourage adoption as well.
Corporate travelers will enjoy a technologically advanced experience, built around keeping them on the go with as little friction as possible. Travelers will have access to new products and services, including on their mobile devices. Their preferences will be stored with approved corporate travel partners so each experience will be customized for them, while also adhering to corporate policies. It will be easier to offer customized travel perks such as seat upgrades or free services.
Automated expense reimbursement will address one of the common complaints about corporate travel. If travelers know their expenses will be paid quickly, they are much more likely to adopt the program, which will increase the benefits to the company from the improved services from NDC.
For senior-level procurement executives involved in managing corporate travel, ProcureCon Travel is the place to be to learn about NDC and other innovations in corporate travel.