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ANCILLARIES


2019 IS BROADLY BELIEVED TO BE THE YEAR THAT WE’LL START TO SEE THE INDUSTRIALISATION OF NDC


Finally, embed ancillaries within your travel


programme wherever possible. As ACTE points out: “Travel policy is the most powerful lever available to travel managers.” Keeping the policy up to date in line with changes in the distribution environment is vital – not just in terms of which carriers can be used, or which ancillary services can be reimbursed, but also looking at the range of channels that can be used for booking flights. “If you find that travellers are regularly going off


policy, then perhaps that’s telling you that the policy needs to be updated.”


CHANGING THE GAME So why are ancillaries on the rise? For a long time, airlines have aimed to bring the same sort of flexibility as seen with TMCs – as well as those valuable opportunities to sell more services, and to personalise offers through data capture – to corporate clients. This is also the driving force behind the New Distribution Capability (NDC) technical standard put forward by IATA. NDC is a data transmission standard, on which APIs are built.


The goal of NDC is to supersede the legacy technology


Second, buyers should talk to their expenses software and credit card providers about whether there are ways to pull out these expenses more easily (travel management software provider Travelogix, for example, last year introduced a function specifically aimed at dealing with ancillary costs). As ACTE points out, your finance department may


also be able to help track these costs more effectively. Third, it’s important to make sure your partners are actively adapting to the changing environment, too. If you work with a TMC, says Paul Tilstone of consultancy Festive Road, then ask how they are tackling “the immediate problem of content coming through APIs [application programming interfaces] and not GDSs. Are they creating a workaround?”


Also, he continues, now is the right time to find out how your TMC “intends to ensure that you are going to get all the content in the future. Are they taking their own initiative on tech, or are they relying on third parties to provide this content for them?” In fact, much pressure resides with the TMCs, and


David Chappell, IT director at Fello, agrees that they have to move with the times. “We need to recognise that, ultimately, we are technology companies that sell travel. You have to embrace that. Yes, from a front-end perspective, we are travel specialists, but it all stands on tech these days. You have to offer corporates the right content and make sure you are reporting in the right way.” So check that your TMC has a plan in place and that it is responding to these changes.


134 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019


behind the dominant GDS, in order to be able to offer more “content” in a more user-friendly manner – to make the corporate travel booking experience more like the retail one, in effect. As Andreas Koester, senior director sales UK, Ireland and Iceland at Lufthansa Group, puts it, it’s all about “innovating and being flexible to identify and meet the customer’s expectations at any time”. Ancillaries can be used to specify what exactly a customer wants to be offered not just onboard, but during the entire journey, from the moment they leave their house to the time they arrive at their destination.” The problem, of course, is that this is an end goal. And, as anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed, the industry remains some distance away from that end goal. As Fello’s Chappell puts it: “Travel management as an industry suffers from what I call ‘industrial lag’ – it’s probably ten years behind retail, maybe further.” Yet progress is being made. “Last year, it seemed like for the first time there was a lot of momentum and commitment, from airlines to GDSs to self-booking tool providers,” says Tilstone, whose consultancy Festive Road also works with IATA to ensure airlines take account of the views of both travel buyers and TMCs. “It’s broadly believed 2019 is the year that we’ll start to see the beginning of the industrialisation of NDC,” he says. Anna Kofoed, executive vice-president of travel content sourcing at Amadeus, summed it up well when she described Amadeus’s ambitions for this brave new world in a recent blog post. “We are evolving our Amadeus Travel Platform to aggregate all relevant


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