NDC’s “Unknown Unknowns” Hamper Acceptance
by By Michèle McDonald

Borrowing a phrase from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a speaker at IATA’s World Passenger Symposium in Dublin cited the “unknown unknowns” as the biggest obstacle to acceptance, and ultimately adoption, of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC).

Anne Coughlan, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said, “If you don’t know what you don’t know, you can’t lift the veil on it, and you’ll have trouble getting partners to run with you.”

Meanwhile, the “known unknowns” are significant, she said.

“How big is the pie, and how much will it cost to get it?” she asked.

A “loveless triangle”
Coughlan spoke on a panel titled “Airline Product Differentiation: New Distribution Capability and the Loveless Triangle,” a reference to the airline/travel agent/GDS relationship.

During the session, moderator Gary Doernhoefer, a former IATA general counsel turned consultant, sought to find common ground among the representatives of all the parties who will play a role in NDC’s future.

Fergal Kelly, vice president of global technology solutions and services at Travelport, said that marrying up the two sides of every travel transaction – “how people want to sell and how people want to buy” – requires a level of trust.

“We need a much greater understanding of the value that various people bring to the dialogue,” he said.

“Even before you begin the technical work, you must address the issue of trust and the common vision. We don’t know the size of the overall benefit of NDC, so it requires a leap of faith.”

Uncomfortable changes
Doernhoefer acknowledged that NDC’s introduction did not inspire trust.

Any change makes some people uncomfortable, he said.

When airlines began talking about changing the way they sell their products and services, travel agents were caught in the middle of a drama involving “high-stakes litigation” and “the usual mercenary spokesmen,” Doernhoefer said.

“Then IATA entered the fray like conquering heroes,” he added. “They were met with less than widespread enthusiasm.”

But emotions have cooled since then, according to Doernhoefer.

What’s in it for the agent
The question now is, “What’s in it for the travel agent to sell this stuff?” he asked.

“Agents will sell anything, but they have to have the ability to do it and understand why they should do it. We will have to have a discussion of the risks and rewards.”

Jayson Westbury, chief executive officer of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, said agents want to have access to the rich content promised by NDC. He’s concerned that “the world will have moved on by the time we get it.”

Get on with it
The industry “should just get on with it,” said Westbury. “We have to find a way to get this party started.”

Jens Ritterhoff, director of distribution strategy and cost for Lufthansa, agreed that the pace of change is too slow.

“We need more rapid development,” he said. “If we underestimate the pace of change, someone else will pop up and do a fabulous job of it.”



  0
  0
Comment:
You must be logged in to leave a comment Login | Register
Tip of the Day

The travel agency space is there for the owning, for whatever brand to become THE brand in travel. No one has done it yet. It's an expensive proposition, but there's a chance for a really big payoff.
 
Steve Cohen
VP of insights at MMGY.

Daily Top List

Top Resorts in Asia & Australia

  1. One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
  2. One & Only Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  3. Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  4. Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand
  5. Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand

Source: Virtuoso

Top Stories
CSA Launches Identity Theft Service
CSA Launches Identity Theft Service

ID Theft Resolution Service will notify authorities of fraudulent activity.

United Loosens Ticket Change Rules For Travel Agents
United Loosens Ticket Change Rules For Travel Agents

Previously, many of the changes required the intervention of a United reservations agent.

More Travel Agent Tales From The Trenches
More Travel Agent Tales From The Trenches

Travel professionals manned the phones as Delta customers called in from around the world. 

Beyond Air Strategy, Business Mix Boosts Travelport Revenue
Beyond Air Strategy, Business Mix Boosts Travelport Revenue

CEO Gordon Wilson plans to “take this business to its next level of growth on an international basis.”

Sabre’s Klein Predicts Agents Will Deliver Growth Of Airline Ancillary Revenue
Sabre’s Klein Predicts Agents Will Deliver Growth Of Airline Ancillary Revenue

The next avenue of growth for airlines’ ancillary revenue will be the travel agency channel, according to Tom Klein, president and chief executive officer of Sabre Corp.

Amadeus’ Market Share Grows To Nearly 44%
Amadeus’ Market Share Grows To Nearly 44%

Amadeus’ share of travel agency air bookings increased by 1.3 percentage points, to 43.8%, in the second quarter.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Travel Market Report Spotlight: Celebrity Cocktails