Carts, Horses & NDC

By Alexander v. Bernstorff


When I listened to Tye Radcliffe and Jim Davidson during last week’s excellently organised „New Generation of Airline Passenger Systems“ I was satisfied to hear two gentlemen who “get it” explaining the lack of control in airline’s offer management and its impact on consumer’s painful search patterns because there is no single point of truth.

Nothing special, so far.

I can also not see that the discussions around NDC took a different turn because of Jim’s statement. What is NDC for if airlines have no means to increase the relevance of their offers in direct and indirect channels? If this is called the cart before the horse, then I would agree.

Let’s take a look at the consumer.

Consumers generally prefer a way of shopping that airlines (not all of them, unfortunately) are offering them on their own websites over a more complex and less relevant shopping experience in indirect distribution channels. My former NDC fellow Ken McLeod stated that whenever he knows what he wants (more or less), he is booking his own flight tickets on the respective carrier’s website. That’s a notable statement of a representative of the travel agency community.

So what’s the problem?

The first problem is that most airlines are lacking systems that allow them to fully control WHAT to offer to WHOM and WHEN. The result is a world where consumers are being flushed with airfares – and will rarely receive truly relevant offers. That’s the horse. And because relevance is key, the horse comes first. That’s what Jim was saying in London.

The second problem is the WHERE. Airlines are typically trying to deal with the first problem by enhancing their e-commerce engines (which, for many, is a quite frustrating exercise). If they do well, they can increase relevance within their direct channel. NDC is aiming at bringing that to the indirect channel, which is still the predominant place for doing business for most airlines.

And logically, and that’s what Tye was saying, if both channels receive offers from the same offer management system, this will lead to less frustrating search activity of the consumer.

InteRES is working on an Offer- & Order Management System that works on the basis of pure NDC AirShopping RQ/RS and we’d be keen to show you the enormous potentials our concepts around NDC and retailing will open up to your airline. So our horse comes with its own NDC cart, but the horse is still before the cart. Ever.

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