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What Is NDC (New Distribution Capability)?

December 15, 2022
By Andrew Sheivachman
Categories Travel 101,Travel Management

It’s impossible to talk about corporate travel content and traveler experience without touching on NDC, or New Distribution Capability. 

NDC lies at the center of efforts to modernize airline retailing and distribution to create better, more personalized experiences for corporations, and their travelers. 

Read on for more about what NDC is, why it matters, and how Spotnana is connecting directly with global airlines using NDC to bring you the best prices and offers tailored to your travelers. 

What is NDC?

NDC is an XML-based data transmission standard created in 2012 by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). 

The “standard” part is where NDC can trip people up—it’s not a system, it’s not a database, and it’s not a platform. 

It’s a standard used by airlines to deliver air offers, services, and bundles to technology providers, TMCs (travel management companies), and corporations without the limitations of the GDS (global distribution system)

Why was NDC created?

When you go directly to an airline’s website, it’s easy to not only purchase a preferred seat, but also buy extras like a checked bag, priority boarding, or a loyalty miles upgrade. 

In corporate travel—where GDSs act as the distribution intermediary between travel management companies (TMCs), technology providers, and airlines—that kind of customization and transparency hasn’t been possible. GDSs, which use 1960s era mainframe computing technology, can’t handle it due to the number of fares available in existing systems and the process to update them. 

IATA launched NDC to change that. The standard exists so that air products, services and bundled packages could be pushed out through indirect channels as easily as they are through airline-owned channels. 

Who benefits from NDC?

NDC is meant to deliver greater value to airlines, TMCs, travel sellers, corporations, and business travelers. Here’s how:

For airlines…

NDC promises a more modern retailing environment that allows airlines to sell their full suite of products and services in the corporate environment. They can not only differentiate their offering from their competitors, but they also gain greater control over pricing and the ability to deliver personalized or negotiated bundles to corporations and their travelers. 

For TMCs and travel sellers…

The shortcomings of the GDSs have meant that TMCs and travel sellers have to access content from a variety of sources to meet the needs of customers. That adds a layer of complexity and inefficiency into what is already a pretty complex and inefficient environment. 

NDC gives agents and sellers real-time access to everything that’s available through airline direct channels so they can deliver relevant content and a better experience to customers. 

For corporations and business travelers…

NDC delivers a better shopping experience with access to amenities within a corporate environment. Travel buyers can work with preferred vendors to negotiate not only discounted airfares but also personalized amenities and perks for travelers. 

By improving the traveler experience, corporations can create a more flexible and less costly travel program by reducing the odds that individuals will shop around or book directly with an airline. 

How Spotnana delivers NDC content

For all the benefits promised by NDC, adoption in the decade since IATA first introduced the standard has been low. This is due to the nature of each airline’s technology stack, which has been built over time from a combination of legacy systems.

Spotnana enables airlines to move beyond legacy technology and take the industry even further than the original vision of NDC. 

Through our partnerships with air carriers like the one we recently announced with American Airlines, we’re giving users of our Travel-as-a-Service Platform access to products and services only available through NDC and airline direct channels—in addition to the wide range of unbiased global content we also offer from GDSs and travel aggregators. 

By providing a modern cloud-based infrastructure to the industry, we’re building the foundation for greater flexibility and more positive experiences for business travelers, corporations, TMCs, suppliers and technology providers.  

For more on how the personalization promised by NDC could benefit your travel program, download our eBook: How to Increase Savings and Traveler Satisfaction With a Personalized Travel Shopping Experience.