Corporate travel is about to get a whole lot easier. And it’s likely corporate travellers haven’t even heard of the big changes coming thanks to the New Distribution Capability (NDC). But there’s a few good reasons why travellers should be paying attention.
If you travel for business, more than likely you have felt the frustration of having to blend your personal preferences and needs with your working trip demands and corporate travel policy. How often have you wondered why it has to be so much more difficult and cumbersome than booking your leisure travel?!
NDC has the potential to turn that experience on it's head by giving you greater flexibility and customisation of your travel needs – more than ever before. It’s important to understand what benefits are coming, and importantly what you could be missing out on if your travel buyer and corporate travel policies don’t take full advantage of these changes.
NDC is a new set of technology standards (essentially an API framework), which were developed by IATA, to facilitate rich communication between airlines and travel agents or corporate booking tools that will ultimately impact travel buyers and travellers as well.
What this means, in essence, is that airlines will have the ability to provide a rich, personalised experience the way they do through their websites, but through third party channels. Airlines are looking eagerly towards NDC as a way to better merchandise their seats and offers in a way they haven't been able to through traditional distribution channels.
And it’s happening right now.
What is it that NDC does for Corporate Travel?
The modern traveller is smart, tech-savvy and looking for a personalised experience. What is important to corporate travellers is to get the same levels of choice, personalised service and consistency across channels and devices to compare and to choose the option of their liking – just as they would with personal travel.
This is where NDC comes in. It makes booking corporate travel online as rich an experience as it is booking leisure travel on the airline websites. It allows the airlines to present a significantly higher level of information and content in the product booking, presentation and buying process. And it allows for greater visualisation and personalisation of product offerings, to help travellers choose the right products for them.
Importantly, it brings the richness of seat select and airline extras that are relevant to their frequent flyer status seamlessly into the online booking process. No longer do travellers need to make a booking, then login to their airline frequent flyer account for seat selection or upgrades – one of the biggest bugbears of corporate travel.
NDC makes flexible corporate travel policies possible
Traveller-centric policies, accommodating ‘bleisure’ and traveller well-being will become even more prevalent with the changes coming with NDC.
As more corporate travellers want to take advantage of business travel by adding on personal upgrades, side trips or have family accompanying them, improved travel policies will become paramount.
Businesses will realise the importance of using travel policies as a tool for not only retaining but attracting staff, and corporate travellers will expect travel managers and HR to work more closely with their needs to prioritise well-being and additional bleisure options.
Key benefits of increased flexibility for corporate travellers includes:
- Offers that are tailored to preferences
- Faster travel bookings through corporate travel channels
- A visual representation of travel plans and schedules
- The ability to compare packaged fares more easily
- An easier way to incorporate loyalty features such as premium seat select
What Does This Mean for the Traveller?
Firstly, it makes their life much easier. Travellers can select and purchase extras such as premium seating, baggage and priority boarding in the online booking tool instead of the cumbersome experience of having to buy the ticket and then login to the airline site with their frequent flyer details.
When the traveller uses the Zeno online booking tool to book with an NDC connected airline, the transaction becomes a one-step process to secure all the benefits available within the travel policy, and at the point of purchase, the traveller does not have to be concerned with making purchases that may be outside the travel policy prices negotiated by the travel manager. With a link from the booking tool to the automated expense tool the traveller can book a complete travel booking and airline portion of the expense report all in one easy transaction.
Also, the traveller does not have to be concerned with making purchases that may be outside the travel policy – and they can be assured the price is the best available for the bundle of purchased services.
NDC simply gives the traveller more transparency into the options which have always been available whenever they have booked a flight with increased options regarding seats, class, priority and ancillaries like; extra luggage being made available in any booking channel. This rich content is set to become even more diverse, with travellers given access to more images and information of course, but also videos, traveller reviews and even VR all becoming a reality in airline retailing.
Not only are fares displayed, but also bundles of services – all personalised according to the traveller and the trip.
Just as the improved shopping experience on Amazon results in the tendency to spend more, the same potential now applies when booking travel. No wonder NDC has become a primary cause of concern amongst travel managers.
There are ways to overcome this however. NDC-enabled booking tools give travel managers the power to apply policy controls around extras, giving them visibility and control over spend that was previously happening direct with the airline on the traveller's credit card outside managed channels. Travel buyers can also develop strategic partnerships with airlines to customise packages for their travellers, such as extra baggage for field workers or valet parking for executive travellers that are made available seamlessly to your travellers.
NDC ultimately gives airlines the flexibility to retail their offering without the shackles of legacy distribution systems, gives travel managers greater control and visibility over air travel spend, and gives travellers a personalised, more friction-less travel experience.