August 27, 2013

How will IATA’s NDC affect travel agents?


IATA describes NDC as a “communications protocol” but in ASTA’s view it’s a new business model - one that would have immense and far-reaching effects on how consumers buy air travel and how travel agents do business.

According to IATA, NDC is a “messaging standard that will enable retailing opportunities through the indirect – GDS/travel agent – channel.” In other words, IATA expects NDC to close the gap between direct channels, the airline websites, and indirect channels, GDSs and travel agents.

IATA also says NDC will facilitate customized shopping, making it easier for consumers to purchase the growing number of airline ancillaries, such as priority boarding, onboard wi-fi and access to airport lounges.ASTA disagrees. NDC would, in fact, reduce transparency by bundling airfares along with ancillaries in packaged offers that are tailored to each consumer based on personal information that has been provided either through an airline website or through a travel agent.

Today when consumers shop for travel they can “search anonymously through an agent” or go online themselves and search as many websites as they want. Within the NDC framework consumers would have to identify themselves – and agents would have to identify clients - before they start a search. According to ASTA, consumers would be asked questions that raise serious privacy issues, among them name, age, contact details, nationality and travel history.

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