TMCs ‘relaxed’ about NDC

Corporate travel leaders are increasingly “relaxed” about the introduction of Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard now they “can see where things are heading”.

That is the view of Adrian Parkes, chief executive of the UK’s Guild of Travel Management Companies, who told Travel Weekly: “The GDSs will be in a position to consume NDC content next year once the commercials are agreed.

“This year has been about getting the [NDC] plumbing [in place]. A lot of TMCs have developed or are well-advanced in using third-party technology.

“A lot of the building blocks have been put in place. We can see where things are heading now. Next year will be transitional.”

Parkes said the key to the next stage of development “will be the ability to do things at scale. It is about being able to cope with multiple changes and requests.

“The APIs [application programme interfaces] the airlines develop will [need to] be able to handle traffic at an industrial scale.”

APIs facilitate the transfer of data between software programmes and will be the means by which agents and travel management companies (TMCs) access fare offers from airlines using NDC technology rather than checking fares filed with the GDSs in the traditional way.

Parkes insisted: “We are relaxed about where we are currently.” But he added: “There is still a lot to happen to display multi-source content correctly.”

The GTMC chief also argued the corporate travel sector’s prospects for 2019 remain “positive” despite the uncertainty around Brexit.

He said: “The biggest problem is the uncertainty. It is difficult to manage. Businesses want certainty whether they agree with Brexit or not. We would prefer certainty and a sensibly managed transition.”

Parkes noted “the potential impact on currency, on consumer spending and on corporate travel budgets” of a no-deal exit from the EU, but he said: “We see growth in air, hotel and rail numbers. The top-line indicators on volume and revenues are very positive.”

He added: “There is also great investment in the sector, [including] from outside the UK. It’s a really healthy sector.”

Parkes believes the fall-out from Brexit could highlight the value of TMCs, saying: “The TMC sector is there to assist corporate clients, to make sure they are buying as well as they can.”

He said: “I don’t think the disruption or uncertainty will go away, but there are some real positives.

“Once we get through the Brexit period and know where we are, we’ll grow, including from a consulting point of view. There are also a lot of outsourcing and conference and events opportunities for TMCs.”

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