On April 28-29, 2021, our Sabre product team hosted its fifth Beyond NDC Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting. The virtual gathering brought together over 50 NDC thought leaders from airlines, agencies, corporations and corporate booking tools to discuss the current state of NDC: digging into topics that do not yet have industry-level answers and providing feedback to the Sabre product team about its plans.
During the discussions, we heard from representatives from Qantas Airways, Finnair and other leading travel companies about how they’re thinking about bringing new value-oriented solutions to market through NDC-enabled “pipes.” The discussions underscored the theme of enhanced retailing capabilities supporting the creation of more valued-based experiences for travelers.
The promise of personalization is to enhance value for travelers defined on their terms, be it price, speed, time, convenience, etc. At Sabre, we’re focused on developing products across the retailing, distribution and fulfillment spectrum to help buyers and sellers of travel deliver on that promise. As a key enabler of those kinds of capabilities, NDC remains a corporate priority for us as we build the leading marketplace for personalized travel.
Value-based mindset lowers technical adoption hurdles
From the outset, we’ve considered how NDC can create value for different types of stakeholders. For travelers, we seek to enhance relevancy based upon personal preferences and information about trip context, such as, if someone is traveling for work, or escaping with their family to the beach. Greater traveler relevancy also helps strengthen brand loyalty: a brand “gets” you and you want to do business with it again. For airlines, the ability to distribute smarter offers consistently across channels creates opportunities to generate incremental revenue. For agencies, we aim to maximize their access to leading content while preserving operational efficiency.
Senior Director of NDC Product Management, Rolando Philps, commented: “We aren’t focused on ticking boxes to merely meet the letter of the standard. Rather, we’re focused on going beyond NDC to enable scalable capabilities that create more compelling and valuable experiences for all players. Thinking upfront about the needs of different stakeholders helps remove technical adoption hurdles downstream.”
Kicking off two working groups focused on Loyalty and Response Times
Based on discussions at CAB, our team will facilitate two working groups in the coming months: one focused on loyalty and NDC and the other focused on technical messaging response times. Both topics relate to the notion of value creation. At an industry level, how loyalty will be treated in an NDC world deserves more attention and debate.
The topic of messaging response times–that is, the time elapsed between the initiation of a shopping request and the receipt of an offer response message from an airline–provides a technical counterbalance to the strategic debates about value creation. Travel sellers and travelers have come to expect fast response times, measured in a few seconds. With the introduction of the Offer and Order model in conjunction with NDC, airlines can share more information in response messages. The additional details help to differentiate content and equip travel consultants and travelers to make more informed choices. However, additional details increase message size, which slows down transmission speed. It’s a delicate balancing act. The working group’s goal is to help advance industry thinking on this topic.
Applauding IATA’s new emphasis on value
Given our efforts to include discussions about value across the Beyond NDC program, we were encouraged by IATA’s April 29, 2021 announcement that noted a shift in its focus away from NDC transaction volumes toward value creation. As IATA retires the NDC Airline Leaderboard and augments its NDC certification program by introducing a value-oriented Airline Retailing Maturity Index, we look forward to hearing the topic of value becoming more commonplace in conversations about NDC.