In 2018, when we formalized our NDC program, we named it ‘Beyond NDC.’ But how can you go beyond NDC when we haven’t even arrived yet?
Our program is about more than just checking boxes on a requirements list—it’s about thinking bigger, thinking beyond. To us, NDC isn’t a destination but an important leg of a journey toward personalized travel retailing.
When we look beyond NDC, here’s what we see:
Beyond NDC: Core Capabilities
At the heart of our NDC program are our Offer and Order APIs, which integrate both ATPCO/EDIFACT content with NDC offers through efficient request and response messages. We’ve built a set of capabilities that allow our travel seller and developer customers to shop, book and service NDC content from leading airlines. So far, over 3,000 agency pseudo city codes (PCCs) have activated NDC capabilities through Sabre and are making bookings.
NDC implementations vary airline-to-airline. The Sabre team does the heavy lifting of managing this complexity so that our customers don’t have to – from maintaining multiple versions of NDC technical schemas, to accounting for country-specific tax guidelines, to supporting mid- and back-office workflow requirements. Our agency point-of-sale solution, Sabre Red 360, and our online booking tool, GetThere, consume the Offer and Order APIs to display NDC offers. Unlike other providers, Sabre’s NDC capabilities are built to scale from day one.
Beyond NDC: Greater Intelligence Through Data and AI
Airlines champion NDC as the technical means to expand their reach and make personalized offers and dynamic content available to third-party sellers. NDC offers may bundle together ancillaries and other types of higher-margin content. As airlines receive shopping requests through NDC connections, they use a wide variety of data signals about traveler preferences, trip context and travel trends, to create offers. Technologies that have become more commonplace in recent years, such as cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, make it possible to analyze a greater variety of data elements at exponentially larger volumes. Sabre is harnessing these powerful technologies in multiple ways:
- Market-leading insights and analytics are available via Sabre Travel AI ™, developed in partnership with Google Cloud. This AI-driven technology learns continuously from consumer behavior, helping travel businesses redefine their retailing and customer strategies.
- The recently introduced Sabre Air Price IQ ™ product helps airlines optimize offers using real-time data. This is the first of what will be multiple products within our Retail Intelligence suite. Later this year, we look forward to launching Sabre Ancillary IQ ™, which will provide similar pricing agility for ancillary content.
- Airlines gain greater visibility into their data using the Sabre Intelligence Exchange® (IX) platform, the industry’s most comprehensive real-time data integration solution. IX connects and enriches data in real-time from sources internal and external to an airline, which helps an airline optimize revenue and personalize a traveler’s experience.
Beyond NDC: Enhanced retailing flexibility with offers and orders
As airlines seek out new sources of top and bottom-line growth, they want to play a larger role in offer creation and offer merchandising, i.e., how content is displayed. EDIFACT has been at the heart of travel technology for years. As a result, airlines were limited in terms of how much differentiated merchandising they could do in third-party sales channels. Transitioning to NDC enhances flexibility. Airlines can showcase distinctive content consistently across channels, not just on their own websites. Travel sellers can also access this kind of content for the first time, thereby opening new cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Corporations can start conversations with suppliers about creating offers that fit their employees’ most common travel patterns.
NDC is based on a retailing framework that includes offers and orders. Think of offers and orders like flexible containers. You can fill them up with an array of content. Gone is the traditional 26 fare class limitation. Gone is the inability to display photos and other kinds of rich content. Gone are restrictions on bundling together different types of supply. In their place is a shopping cart-like experience that we’ve all grown accustomed to in other parts of our digital commerce lives.
In an October 2021 whitepaper, IATA called for the airline industry to transition fully to an Offer and Order-based retailing model by 2030. Based on our strategy, Sabre customers are well on their way.
Beyond NDC: Seamless service with ONE Order
We’ve all experienced it: the dreaded, “Your flight has been canceled,” announcement. Often, those five little words make the dominoes of your itinerary fall, your countless hours of careful planning upended.
While the ONE Order initiative from IATA won’t eliminate disruptions, it is a step toward making managing changes more efficient and streamlining operational processes. Similar to how offer management and NDC eliminate the rigidity of filed information, ONE Order seeks to simplify airline fulfillment, delivery and accounting processes. By sending passenger name records (PNRs) and electronic miscellaneous documents (EMDs) the way of the dodo bird, communications between airlines’ order management systems, revenue accounting and delivery providers will become more efficient. With orders, different content types can be associated with a single reference, (i.e., order). Airlines and non-air suppliers will be able to interact and interoperate in an agile way to create end-to-end trip experiences. So, when the dreaded “flight canceled” announcement sounds, the recovery process will involve fewer calls, clicks and commotion for travelers. On the operational flip side, the shift to orders should reduce time airlines and agencies spend reconciling various references and streamlining service and fulfillment activities. Simpler business experience; simpler traveler experience.
Within the food industry, it’s a common refrain that what’s on the menu or on the shelves doesn’t determine success; rather you’ll live or die based on the effectiveness of your supply chain, fulfillment and delivery operations. Similarly, for travel, the difference between a great experience and a frustrating journey relates to the activities found under the order management umbrella. There’s traveler loyalty and business value to be mined by innovating in this area.
What do you see beyond the next quarter?
Our program is named Beyond NDC because at Sabre, our thinking is guided by a longer-term retailing vision. NDC is an industry standard. Going Beyond NDC is about innovation—are you ready for it?