Technology and the rise of the Internet has enabled consumers to research and book their own travel arrangements. Driven by improved web interfaces and quick online transactions, the travel industry has become highly price sensitive, with consumers hunting for the best price. Technology also enables travel suppliers to be creative in their product offering, using technology to bring new products to market and to gather data about traveler patterns and interests.
Where do travel agents fit into the world of online travel shopping and the do-it-yourself travel booking era?
Although technology has enabled consumers to book their own travel, it can take hours to navigate through countless travel products and offers-often leaving consumers overwhelmed and confused by the vast number of choices. Here, travel agents provide added value in the form of expert knowledge in niche destinations and forms of travel while offering personalized attention and service.
Yet, consumers expect to buy air travel the same way they buy other merchandise, with a quick ability to choose a product's features according to their needs and wants. Travel Agents are hindered by limited access to airline products and travel purchase personalization as they heavily rely on the indirect distribution channel. Similarly, travel agents have limited access to product information for competitive differentiation, unless the travel agent is willing to toggle back and forth between direct and indirect distribution systems to compare products.
In an effort to improve airline retailing and personalized shopping in distribution channels used by travel agents, IATA leads the New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative. NDC enables airlines to display their products with rich visuals and more detailed information in travel agent shopping channels. It also enables travel agents to solicit product and price offers on behalf of their customers.
Learn how to leverage technology to offer more value to your travel customers
IATA's new Distribution and Airline Retailing with NDC course
enables you to serve your customers better. This e-learning course differentiates between traditional agency booking channels that resell airline products to leisure and corporate travelers with the potential of NDC-enabled agency shopping channels. Also, it illustrates how airlines wish to distribute their products and services through channels used by travel agents by implementing NDC standards. Most importantly, it dispels common myths associated with NDC, such as that NDC is a GDS replacement or a direct connect booking system.