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Webinar: The evolution of NDC – where are we going next?

December 05, 2023
By Andrew Sheivachman
Categories Travel Management

With the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard gaining traction in corporate travel, visionary leaders are embracing change to provide better experiences to business travelers.

Spotnana has seen massive adoption of NDC alongside improved servicing experiences for travelers. In October 32% of air bookings on Spotnana were NDC-based, with 79% of American Airlines bookings made via NDC.

What’s on the horizon for NDC and airline distribution as the industry moves beyond solving for self-service changes and personalization?

On a recent Business Travel News webinar, Spotnana VP of Strategy and Partnerships Johnny Thorsen was joined by American Airlines’ Director of Airline Retailing Technology Anthony Rader, Walmart’s Director of Global Travel Procurement Theresa Gehler, and TechnipFMC’s Global Travel Managers Ginny Roelant to discuss how the evolution of NDC is driving travel programs forward.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

Here are the top three takeaways from the webinar.

Airline perspective

Global airlines are embracing NDC to provide more options to travelers with better service.

Spotnana has seen massive adoption of NDC alongside improved servicing experiences for travelers. In October 32% of air bookings on Spotnana were NDC-based, with 79% of American Airlines bookings made via NDC.

American Airlines, in particular, has remained a leader in U.S. air distribution with its focus on further developing its NDC capabilities with forward-looking technology partners.

“We looked at the last 12 months, and we’ve had clear inflection points of corporations adopting, like Spotnana’s  ecosystem,” said Anthony Rader, Director of Airline Retailing Technology for American Airlines. “We shared on our last earnings call that 80% of our transactions are going through direct channels [which include NDC].”

Rader sees 2024 as a major inflection point in the development and deployment of NDC, as airlines become more mature in their deployment of the technology. Beyond the goals of any particular airline, it’s clear that enhanced inventory and serviceability of NDC fares is having a positive impact on business travelers and their travel programs.

“The value that customers get is clear when it comes to either selecting enhanced offers, selecting ancillaries within the booking path or making it easier to sign up for our loyalty program AAdvantage,” said Rader. “When we look at 2024, we certainly see another inflection point on the horizon of more corporates adopting NDC. We’re going to continue to make it easier for corporate travelers to adopt NDC with new connection types and new solutions.”

Travel manager perspective

For travel managers, receiving value based on their airline spending is a key component of embracing NDC. Service, though, has the potential to improve greatly as NDC adoption increases.

“I don’t think it would be surprising to any of our suppliers or even any of the people that we talk to within the industry that everything we do is based on value,” said Theresa Gehler, Director of Travel Procurement for Walmart. “When we look at value, we see the NDC is going to bring those additional bundles, new ways of buying things and things that maybe we haven’t had within our program before, but we find that now there’s a value to include them and enhance the ease of [traveling].”

Experienced travel managers understand the industry is undergoing a period of change. How travel managers adapt to these changes will be crucial to improving travel programs in the coming years.

“[NDC] is going to evolve rapidly and it will change depending on the larger market economics between the airlines and the TMCs,” said Ginny Roelant, Global Travel Manager for TechnipFMC. “I’m really keeping my options open from that perspective, but price will win the day in our conversations. We are launching two bundles with United in the near future, and I’m excited about that.”

Innovator perspective

Going beyond NDC, Spotnana’s advanced platform ensured that 85% of all air bookings were available for self-service by travelers and travel managers. 

“We have already embedded a few capabilities into the platform that were not part of the original NDC standard or the most current one,” said Johnny Thorsen, VP of Partnerships for Spotnana. “In many ways we think that airlines will keep innovating at their own pace. It’s not likely that an airline will be sitting and waiting for their competitors to catch up and match their digital capabilities.”

The spirit of collaboration is driving travel’s robust ecosystem of travel suppliers, buyers, and technology platforms to provide greater value and better experiences for business travelers.

We are ready for the evolution of NDC toward One Order, which represents an even bigger step toward the modernization of air travel. Companies should plan to switch to a travel platform that is future proof and offers a modern architecture.

To learn more about how NDC is improving travel programs, watch the on-demand webinar or get a demo of Spotnana today.