The travel industry is used to difficult times. Occasionally, unforeseen and natural disasters require us to pause travel – at least locally or regionally – for short periods of time. Few could foresee the scale of the COVID-19 crisis and the rapid and global impact this would have on the travel industry. As we experience it, the questions within the industry are, what will we learn from this ?, how can we use this event to hone our technology so that we can move forward and strengthen traveler confidence as well as be prepared to face future events together as an industry?
Over the past few years, NDC has been a key strategic priority for Amadeus and many of our customers, and continues to be, especially during this difficult situation. Now more than ever, it is clear that we need to have a forward-looking strategy with a realistic and robust product map and strong industry-wide collaboration to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
So with that in mind, what future prospects does NDC have as we face COVID-19 and prepare for what’s to come?
The first thing we have learned is that customer service must be a priority. When global air travel becomes an option again, travelers will surely be more sensitive to how their flight bookings will be handled, and we must take this into account as we continue to develop NDC standards. Selling a ticket through NDC technology is not enough – we need to develop solutions that facilitate the process when flights are canceled, changed or modified (perhaps several times as the scenario changes and information emerges) in a simple way and easy.
An example of this is the bonuses that many of the airlines are offering their passengers for flights canceled during COVID-19. Until recently, the flow of these bonds had not been developed within the NDC standard. Given the circumstances, it is clear that this is an important function. IATA recently defined the coupon process for NDC, so it can now be implemented in the next standards update.
Additionally, it is increasingly clear that fast and efficient communications are critical in times of uncertainty and difficulties. Fortunately, this is an area where the NDC standard can improve customer service. With NDC, airlines can send instant and dynamic notifications to customers at the touch of a button. Imagine the ability to instantly share alerts with content including photos and videos, displaying last-minute information to passengers – for example, when the plane was last cleaned. With NDC, this reality is in sight.
Particularly during a crisis, content may include information on the situation at certain destinations, specific risks, and protection and prevention measures. In times like these, it is a role worth investing in and well defined at the industry level.
One of the nearly unfulfilled promises of the NDC standard is that it enables airlines to offer new forms of content and packages to travelers. This is a fortress that will become even more valuable in the future. The time has come for the travel industry to ask how these unique and personalized offers can be, and how they can help passengers feel safe; Perhaps access to waiting rooms is even more valuable, or passengers will likely want the priority boarding guarantee with staggered boarding times, or extra space between themselves and other passengers.
Restoring traveler confidence will be one of the key reasons for our industry to function again. Amadeus ‘NDC [X] program can help airlines achieve this by offering dynamic, reliable and relevant information to travelers’ concerns, while also enabling them to more clearly describe the offer – it’s about establishing communication and selling Retail accurate.
Industry standardization is a fundamental part of this. COVID-19 has shown us that in times of trouble, travel companies face an extraordinarily high volume of transactions that require a complex set of assistance requirements. The NDC standard needs to evolve beyond that to ensure that the variety of service flows can be implemented in a common and consistent way throughout the industry. Ensuring consistency of API interpretation and implementation will mean that, in the future, we will be able to handle these types of spikes efficiently through NDC technology.
We have always known that NDC’s success would be measured by the level of sustainable adoption across the entire travel distribution value chain. Now more than ever, we know this to be true: NDC will only be successful if it can deliver optimal performance throughout the entire consumer experience.
What the COVID-19 has reinforced is the continuing need to collaborate with the entire industry to develop automated and scalable end-to-end solutions that can be integrated to ensure travelers receive efficient service from the time of booking until they arrive at their destination and they return home.
Amadeus will continue to work with our NDC [X] partners and allocating online resources with our clients’ strategic priorities to drive NDC. NDC is not the end of the game. NDC is just one, albeit important facilitator, in the broader vision of travel retail for the entire travel distribution value chain. As we continue to deliver NDC solutions in the short term, we must keep our focus on future-proof and scalable long-term solutions.
We are closely following the COVID-19 situation and will continue to work with our NDC [X] partners to adapt to the travel environment. Travelers will have different expectations, priorities and concerns in the future. So, working together, we will be able to develop solutions for the future that can safely lead us through any challenge.