Let’s start this year with something a bit more practical than ‘best wishes’. With fuel prices on the rise, political and economic uncertainty, additional airline consolidation, we are likely to see IT innovation investments from airlines become under scrutiny and airline CEOs to be very pragmatic to make sure that every dollar invested in IT generates a positive return in a matter of months.
NDC might be visionary with revolutionary concepts such as One Order, but the expected benefits may be years away before technology, airlines’ organizations and the distribution ecosystem adapt.
So how can an NDC program turn into a money making machine in a few months? Here is a 4-point checklist to get there:
- ‘NDC’ is a set of API and messages. Let’s face it, by itself a new messaging standard does not solve anything. You need to get the right applications that address airlines business priorities through their algorithms, functionality and scalability.
- In the NDC family, ‘Sales Offer’ is the money maker and this is where you need to start. This is the component that converts lookers into bookers and maximizes the revenue per customer through merchandising tactics.
- It is a multi-dimensional problem: Airlines need to design and execute a retailing mode but with variations across their channels such as agencies, metasearch, tour-operators, mobile users, all of which have different requirements in term of volumes, response time, accuracy and look-to-books.
- Agility is a must. An airline may have a long-term vision for NDC but benefits must be achieved in months, regardless of the existing legacy infrastructure.
The checklist should not exclude the flexible technology to put points 1 to 4 in action. A Sales Offer creation and distribution platform would deliver immediate benefits when it combines performance with state-of-art functionalities and key characteristics like:
- Consistency across all channels: shopping and pricing, fare families, dynamic pricing and merchandising distributed in a consistent way across digital and traditional channels, NDC compliant or not.
- Solve channel specific issues:g. for metasearch and Tour Operators. Many airlines start their NDC implementation with the metasearch channel because it is the main alternative to expensive paid advertising as long as the sales offer platform delivers volume and quality at competitive costs. Our platform swallows typical look-to-books like 5000, 10000 or more to 1 like a breeze with a cost-effective model.
- Control with hundreds of business rules and more specifically rules to manage each channel independently, as the needs of a traditional agency are different from those of the online channel and not all metasearch engines are the same.
- Make it simple with plug & play applications: because airlines cannot wait for their legacy PSS/IBE provider to upgrade, the SaaS platform with multiple APIs can be connected to existing systems and operational in a matter of weeks making time to market extremely fast. And it works for whatever PSS is used for booking.
- Last but not the least, maximize revenues per customer with merchandising.
With more than 40% of passengers (*) ready to pay additional services vs. their initial travel budget, airlines have plenty of opportunities to access the passenger ‘second wallet’ and increase their profit per passenger.
So, how much did you check off your list?
(* IATA / Atmosphere)