Travel Agents See Opportunities in NDC, Seek to Know More

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The FINANCIAL — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the results of a joint study with select members of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA). Travel agents look forward to the opportunities New Distribution Capability (NDC) will bring and seek more information about the initiative.

NDC is a travel industry-supported program launched by IATA. Its goal is the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard that is intended to enhance communications between airlines and travel agents.

IATA partnered with associations representing travel agencies based in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA  that are members of WTAAA. The study was conducted by Atmosphere Research Group and T2 Impact. It included 22 qualitative interviews with travel agents around the world and surveys from approximately 1,000 agents, according to IATA.

The study shows that:

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 recognize 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

“The study bears out that the travel agent channel as currently situated is not able to efficiently meet all the needs of air travelers. NDC will address this gap by enabling efficient access to content that currently is available only on airline websites,” said Aleks Popovich, IATA Senior VP Financial and Distribution Services.

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“The NDC discussion has been around the global travel industry for many years. This study has brought to light some important and interesting insights from the travel agency perspective and is welcomed by those agency associations that have been involved,” said Jayson Westbury, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel agents and spokesperson for the participating agency associations.

Other findings in the study:

The development of branded fares, sometimes referred to as fare families, has created some confusion in the travel agency community. Around one in four travel agencies are uncertain whether they book fare families or branded fares

A plurality of agents (43%) take a deliberately slow pace in adopting new technology

Agencies will likely rely on GDSs most for support in adopting NDC


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