Despite the challenges facing airlines, TMCs and travel programs amid COVID-19, innovation hasn’t come to a standstill. Instead, we’re seeing the corporate travel industry embrace ways to work smarter together. This includes advancing the rollout of NDC, with many of the major airlines reporting increased interest in new distribution channels from agencies and buyers since the back half of 2020.
With a rapid expansion of NDC offers expected to hit the market, you’ll want to consider how you can take full advantage of NDC content to position your travel program for the future. Here are some first steps:
Look at company spending on ancillary services to get a big picture of what’s at stake by standing still. NDC brings ancillary services into the main booking process, making this area of spend much more visible. This is likely to represent a significant savings opportunity for your organization. As a guide, Forbes esimated the average passenger spend is around US$50 per return trip in 2019, so you can do a quick back of the envelope calculation by multiplying that number by the number of trips your people are expected to take.
Understand your travelers’ needs and develop appropriate policies
What do your travelers require to feel safe, successful, rested or satisfied when hitting the road (or the skies) for business. Use traveler sentiment and frequent requests to inform your ancillary policy, keeping in mind the likely rise in demand for additional legroom or premium cabins that provide even more social distancing. Don’t forget to tackle the specifics, such as allowances for baggage, premium seating, loyalty points and upgrades. Once you’ve developed your policy, apply it in your OBT to guide travelers in making the right decisions.
Communicate, then communicate some more
Ensure that travelers and travel bookers are in the know about changes to come regarding NDC (zeno.com offers several resources for this). Communicate your ancillary policy in advance and through multiple channels so that travelers and bookers are clear on what’s in policy vs. out of policy. Communicate early and often.
Discuss with your TMC
Gain an understanding of how your TMC has already embraced NDC or how they plan to in the future. Do they have any NDC certifications? How might that benefit you as a client? Make sure that your TMC partner is fully equipped to support your needs and your travelers’ needs going forward.
Talk with airline partners
You unlock new negotiating power when you take a big-picture look at your ancillary spend. Ask your partners what they can do to permit you and your travelers to benefit from the NDC standard.
Take these first steps and you’ll be on your way toward clearer air spend, better informed travelers and greater opportunities to save and simplify your air booking process.