Leisure Agencies: Your NDC Strategy Starts with These Key Questions

leisure agency NDC strategy

Consumers increasingly expect and demand customization and personalization in all aspects of their life. This is a key expectation to understand and consider when planning for a leisure agency NDC strategy and implementation.

Recommendation engines fueled by AI and machine learning feed consumer demand for endless combinations based on personal taste. From morning coffee to binge-watching favorite shows, consumer appetites for personalized offers have never been greater.

The travel industry is no exception. “But for all the talk about personalization, many travel businesses struggle to turn the concept into something tangible they can use to delight guests and drive meaningful business results,” writes Skift.

The industry at large must truly understand their customers to know where they’re going. This requires more choices to meet individual needs, today and in the future. That’s when NDC can start to work for you.

Today, NDC has reached an inflection point. After years of focusing on the “standard,” it is time to start delivering the “capabilities.” This requires moving from the vision to implementations that benefit your customers and your travel business’ bottom line. Some leisure agencies, including large global agencies like Flight Centre, are already well on their way. Some mid-to-small agencies need extra support. Regardless of where your agency fits on the spectrum, we at Sabre can help you prepare for the change and the opportunity NDC content can bring.

In our experience working with many of the world’s most insightful leisure travel agencies, we’ve found the first step in a successful leisure agency NDC strategy and implementation is asking the right questions. Let’s start by looking at the impact NDC implementation could have on your business day to day:

 

What is NDC and how will it affect my agency?

The primary difference with NDC content is that airlines create and control the flow of offers. And while this means you’ll eventually have access to more content choices, including new merchandising offerings enabling an even higher grade of tailoring, such as Wi-Fi and boarding privileges, you can expect some changes to how your agents operate.

The first important step to preparing your agency for this content is to map your end-to-end workflows, from shopping to booking to fulfillment and servicing.

Share your workflow with your airline and technology partners. Discuss the potential challenges and opportunities of NDC content at each stage of the workflow, as well as its impact on your partnerships. This will better enable you to take full advantage of additional value-driving personalized offerings.

 

How will my leisure agency keep up with changes to NDC in the future?

The travel industry has never been more complex, thanks in large part to the increasing volume of choices offered to leisure travelers, compounded with their expectation to compare across price and qualitative factors, like comfort and convenience.

In this new ecosystem, seamless integration quickly becomes king. Sabre´s technology investments to deliver the most advanced travel platform is a foundational enabler for content aggregation from multiple sources, including NDC content.

“Sabre’s approach is very different compared to the other GDSs and, we believe, more scalable,” said Charlene Wee in our eBook NDC to the Power of Sabre. “The key aspect is that it requires less changes to the agency workflows, driving higher adoption…Ultimately, it’s not just us wanting to distribute NDC content, it’s about us partnering with agencies to distribute all this rich, new content.”

 

How will NDC increase revenue for my leisure agency?

Travelers are seeking more tailored travel experiences which has led to an increase in ancillary uptake. To provide the best end-to-end travel experience, it´s important for your agency to be able to provide comprehensive choices.  According to a report by IdeaWorksCompany and CarTrawler, ancillary revenue is forecast to have hit $93 billion worldwide in 2018. To put this figure into context, this roughly translates to over $50 per passenger in ancillaries alone. And this number is on course to steadily rise.

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Personalized ancillary services should be an important consideration for your agency moving forward. In a report by IATA, of 15 “leaderboard” airlines interviewed, 73% said the increase of ancillaries will be very important and will be facilitated by rich NDC content. This brings leisure travelers additional customization choices and if agencies can’t offer rich NDC content and related new products, it’s going to put them at a serious disadvantage.

 

What if I’m late to adopting NDC?

While of course there are no guarantees or true fail-safes, it´s important for agencies to consider NDC as a part of their future content strategy. Open communication with preferred airline partners is critical.  It not only assesses the maturity level and risk tolerance for NDC within your own organization, but it also demonstrates to airlines what success looks like for your business. At its most basic, NDC can help enable airlines to attract customers through targeted and personalized campaigns – which also benefits the agencies that represent them.

Where will your agency lie on this new trajectory? Maintaining your agency’s access to maximum content will help prepare and position and you for the next new thing.

“Airlines won’t be able to scale their indirect retailing strategy without agency alignment, and agencies will struggle to communicate their value without the support of their airline partners,” as stated in chapter four of our NDC eBook, 4 Steps to Get Started with NDC.

 

Conclusion

By working together, leisure agency NDC strategy and implementation doesn’t have to be a process disruption, but a revenue-generating opportunity. As demands continue to rise and competitors start to respond in earnest, the gap in expectations will only further increase. By asking the right questions and getting ahead of the curve, you will meet your customers where they need you to be – ready to provide the customization and personalization they have come to expect.

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