The New Distribution Capability is a technology standard with a straightforward premise: to modernize airline distribution in the agency channel.
To travel management companies, however, it's anything but straightforward.
The Beat this week published an in-depth research report based on a survey of 30 TMCs to learn how corporate travel agencies view the NDC standard and better understand how they approach adoption and enablement.
The standard's progenitor, the International Air Transport Association, says NDC is an overdue upgrade that empowers airlines to bridge the gap between how they sell through their own websites and how travel agencies distribute fares, bundles, rich content and ancillary products in their channels.
Most TMC respondents view NDC positively: Eighty percent agree that the NDC standard is a positive development in airline distribution.
On this note, many TMC respondents buy in to the notion that NDC will afford them a broader range of ancillary airline content, an enriched ability to access negotiated bundles and the power to sell a more expansive range of airfare content.
Yet, TMCs also meet NDC with a degree of caution, skepticism and apprehension, as a majority of respondents brace for carrier content fragmentation, technology disruption, workflow challenges and unfavorable changes to economic models.
When it comes to content access, every TMC surveyed plans to access NDC-style content through a global distribution system, though several also are building direct connections and piping in content from non-GDS aggregators.
Regardless of where they plan to source NDC content, most TMC respondents are working to enable airline distribution in accordance with the standard: An 83 percent majority have invested in technology, either by upgrading current systems or adopting new ones, to book, manage and/or service NDC-based airline content.
This year, The Beat invited dozens of TMCs to complete an online questionnaire to better understand how they approach NDC. Respondents include a mix of agencies from some of the largest mega and multinational TMCs to smaller national and regional operators. The Beat supplemented survey findings with executive interviews.
A PDF of the full study, including charts and analysis, is available here.
The Beat on July 10 will host a webinar to review findings from the research and discuss NDC with several TMC executives.