Today’s leisure travelers have control over many options when they book travel directly through an airline’s website. This level of flexibility and customisation means most people are accustomed to a rich, personalised booking experience.
They see exactly what entitlements are bundled within their fare and can customise their experience with optional extras such as selecting seats with more leg room, pre-ordering their preferred meal options, priority boarding, lounge access or additional checked baggage.
The airline can also offer extras at the time of booking, such as allocating premium seating based on traveler status or offering upgrades using points or miles.
It's no wonder then that most travelers now expect this level of customisation and options when booking corporate travel.
However, business travelers using their corporate booking channels don’t get the same rich experience. They generally make a booking through their agent or their online booking tool and then have to login to the airline site separately to access priority seat selection that their status allows them access to. It’s the same if they want to purchase extras like lounge access or additional baggage allowance - all of it outside their managed travel channel.
Not only does this make booking travel for work frustrating, it’s also the reason why business travelers' spend on ancillaries happens outside the managed travel program. Given that the airline ancillary market globally is around $100 billion, that is a lot of money being spent that is un-managed until well after the fact.
In Australia, the average spend on airline ancillaries is around $50 per segment. NDC at last gives travel buyers control and visibility over that spend.
How NDC works in reality
Let’s take a look at a frequent corporate traveler who needs to book an upcoming long-haul trip. Because this person is a frequent traveler as defined by her company’s travel policy, she is entitled to certain travel benefits.
First, she is entitled to premium seat selection. Second, she is entitled to access the airline lounge prior to departure, and the arrival lounge at destination. Third, the travel policy allows her to purchase priority boarding so she can secure overhead space and get settled for the long flight.
In today’s GDS booking environment the traveler would book the airline trip via the company’s online booking tool or directly with one of the company’s travel agents.
Following the completion of the booking the traveler would likely go online to the airline website to purchase the seat selection, the enhanced boarding access, and the lounge passes. In addition to spending time doing this, our traveler will pay the full “rack rate” for each of these additional services and have to submit multiple expense items.
Using an NDC-enabled connection with a travel booking system like Zeno, she would be able to secure the airline booking, lounge access, enhanced boarding, and preferred seat all in one bundled and seamless transaction. No need to contact the airline directly, no need to spend additional time logging in to the airline website, no need to be concerned about capturing more than one item for the expense report. In addition, the bundled pricing is applicable, so the company saves money.
Providing flexibility while giving greater control to travel managers
NDC gives booking flexibility back to the corporate traveler via a two-way data transfer. In other words, with an NDC-connection into the corporate travel booking system, airlines get the same information about the traveler as though they were purchasing directly through the airline’s website.
This means they can personalise options for the traveler, provide flexible upgrade options and even price seats dynamically based on demand.
Not only does this give a better experience for the corporate traveler, but by bringing all airline offers into the corporate booking process it gives organisations greater visibility and control over the entire air travel spend.
Travel managers can use this information to develop and apply travel policies around the amount being spent on ancillaries, all while better supporting their travelers’ needs.
With NDC-enabled booking channels the future of corporate travel will provide a booking experience as good as airline websites, enable customised corporate offers and greater control and visibility around total cost of air travel. 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.