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ed as the Business Travel Association last week. Ian Taylor reports from Noordwijk, the Netherlands BUSINESS NEWS


Iata admits it was slow to consult buyers on NDC


Iata has conceded it “underestimated the complexity” of developing New Distribution Capability technology for airlines. Te association foresees NDC


enabling Amazon-style retailing for airlines via agents and travel management companies (TMCs). Companies require individual


airline agreements to sign up to develop and use NDC. In return, they gain access to ‘full-content’ fares and avoid the GDS booking fees imposed by British Airways, Iberia, Luſthansa, Swiss and Air France-KLM. Aleks Popovich, Iata senior vice-


president for financial and distribution services, conceded the airline association had failed to consult the industry or to foresee the difficulties of developing the technology when it launched NDC in 2012. He suggested Iata had learnt the lessons, although corporate travel managers and leaders expressed frustration. Popovich told the UK Business


Travel Association (BTA) conference in the Netherlands: “We did underestimate the complexity of


Travel managers vexed by access to content on NDC


Leading travel buyers expressed frustration with Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) and the way it is being developed, insisting “people are not happy”. Stephanie Smook, regional


director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, told the


travelweekly.co.uk


Stephanie Smook


BTA conference: “Buyers are very frustrated. Tey don’t get answers. “Te airlines say they are talking


to the corporates, but they can’t say who they are talking to. Te


Aleks Popovich


NDC. If we were doing it again, I would include the corporate customer, the corporate buyer [in discussions]. We were slow on that.” He recalled atending a meeting


of the Global Business Travel Association and admited: “It was a revelation to me.” But Popovich insisted: “We have listened. Te travel agent relationship is key to the success of NDC. A lot of people don’t believe it, but airlines need agents at least in away [overseas] markets.” He denied airlines’ desire to cut


distribution costs was driving NDC development, arguing: “Airlines want to show all their product through all


channels. Tey need to find a way to persuade customers to spend more.” Popovich told the BTA,


previously the GTMC: “We are focused now on [developing] NDC at scale. We are seeing dynamic offers with a number of airlines. We have 21 airlines on our [NDC] leader board [and] by the end of next year we’re confident 20% of [these airlines’] indirect sales will be via NDC.” But Suzanne Horner, chief


executive of Gray Dawes and new chair of the BTA, said: “NDC was not a collaborate process at the beginning. Tere was no real thought about the end-to-end process.”


[industry] partners point fingers at each other. Travel management companies (TMCs) say it is the GDSs [to blame]; GDSs say it is the airlines. We are going backwards. “Tere is not a lot of confidence.


A survey of travel managers found 85% did not feel they had the right information [on NDC].” Jo-Anne Lloyd, partner at


corporate travel consultancy Nina & Pinta, said: “Travel buyers saw NDC as a supply-chain conversation, but it is hiting them where it hurts. Travel managers can’t get access to content.


Your Parking Space wins BTA’s entrepreneur gong


Car park platform business Your Parking Space won the Business Travel Association (BTA) entrepreneur in business travel award last week. Te web platform and mobile


app enables car drivers to locate parking space providers, facilitates payments and can be integrated with booking platforms. It was one of five finalists


to present to the BTA overseas conference in Noordwijk last week, with the winner chosen by a vote of BTA members and partners. Te other finalists were


Lumo, a flight-delay prediction service; Wizme, a venue-booking platform; Caravelo, which offers airline retailing via corporate chat channels; and Ruuby, a digital beauty-therapy service.


From left: Ian Taylor, Travel Weekly; Harrison Woods, Your Parking Space; and Adrian Parkes, BTA


“One travel manager is having


to instruct travellers to buy outside [travel] policy to get content.” Leading European airlines –


including British Airways, Iberia, Luſthansa, Swiss and Air France- KLM – have restricted fares available via (GDSs) and made offers available only to TMCs signed up to develop NDC technology. Tey have also imposed fees on GDS bookings. Lloyd said: “Corporates just want


access to content [and] want their TMC to manage their spend, not necessarily the GDS to manage it.”


11 JULY 2019 63


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