In the two decades since online became the default standard for researching, booking and paying for travel, travel managers had to bridge the gap between legacy airline distribution (GDS) and other third parties using technology that merely facilitated one-way data exchange. Quite often information on fares and inclusions was limited, and the airlines had no idea who the traveler or travel booker was so couldn’t offer personalised travel options within the bounds of a defined travel policy.
The incoming NDC (New Distribution Capability) will shift this paradigm by allowing corporate travelers access to rich content, such as personalised booking information, through their corporate booking channels via two-way data transfer.
In this way, travel bookers can access airlines’ up-to-date content in a single, seamless transaction, enabling them to avoid out-of-policy travel bookings while providing highly tailored travel options personalised to the traveller’s preferences.
To help travel managers prepare themselves for the new era of travel booking, we have prepared the top 5 actions to get NDC-ready.
Identify what level of spend you believe is going on ancillaries, even if it is happening outside your managed program - so you understand how much is at stake for your organisation.
In Australia airline ancillary revenue is nearly $3 billion annually, averaging about $50 per traveller per sector. This means identifying what your corporate travelers needs are in terms of insurances, airport parking, foreign exchange, international SIM card services or anything else that makes their travel safe, comfortable and easier.
Develop policies around ancillaries
The first step in providing a more personalised travel experience for your travelers is to understand their preferences. Speak to your travelers about their needs and use this to inform an ancillary policy framework for your organisation.
For example, baggage allowances are the single biggest point of additional charges at point of travel. Most airlines are now weighing carry-on bags to ensure adherence to baggage allowance rules. Start aggregating data on how much baggage allowance is appropriate for short haul vs long haul flights.
Other frequently asked questions are around seat selection – such as purchasing exit rows or premium seating for longer economy flights. Travelers might also want to use their own points to upgrade to business seating.
Once your policy is developed you can then apply it in your online booking tool so your people don’t need to second guess whether an option is appropriate.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
The biggest fears about NDC all focus on the unknown. Start your communication plan now to let your travelers and travel bookers know about the changes that are coming with NDC, and how they will benefit them. Start by reviewing the useful resources we regularly add to Zeno.
Then, once you have developed your ancillary policy framework, communicate this well in advance of the NDC changeover for relevant carriers so travelers and travel bookers have clarity on what they can and can’t do. If you’re taking an agile approach to developing policy based around organisational behaviour, post-NDC let them know so they’re across what’s happening.
Talk to your airline partners
The biggest fear we are hearing from travel managers is that the NDC will only benefit the airlines – to counter this, ask your airline partners what they can do to allow you and your travelers to benefit from the NDC standard.
You may find you can negotiate rates for extras or bundle in features such as valet parking, lounge access for VIPs, or seat select for all fares.
Talk to your TMC partner
Ask your TMC partner what plans they have to take advantage of the benefits of the new NDC standard and how those benefits might be shared.
As an industry leader in our field, Zeno continues to embrace the opportunities that are coming to our exciting and dynamic industry, such as NDC. It’s an opportune time not only to drive changes in technical excellence, but also to provide clarity and perspective to our customers and industry partners.
NDC is a great opportunity to enhance the customer experience and drive wider choice and diversity for travel managers and corporate travelers, while still providing a unique environment that allows them to manage corporate goals. Take a look at the NDC resource centre.
As the first corporate travel & expense platform in the world to become NDC Level 3 certified, Zeno is future-proofing our customers in every way possible.