Distribution Standard NDC: Change creates new opportunities
Vienna/Frankfurt, Germany, 21st March 2019. – Three letters are set to transform the long established way in which the travel industry sell their products: NDC. The abbre-viation stands for New Distribution Capability and thus represents a new IATA (Inter-national Air Transport Association) backed data protocol standard, which primarily many airlines will be focusing on in the future to sell their products. The effect for the travel industry, especially for travel agencies, TMCs and corporate customers was discussed with key players of the industry at a “Distribution Summit” organised by Lufthansa City Center International (LCCI) in Vienna. The result: This is the future and should be embraced as the new method of travel retailing. The data standard offers a wide variety of opportunities for a more flexible and customer focused approach. Up to now, the challenge for travel sellers has been to find the one booking platform cap-able of presenting this new content and uniting the wide range of offers. LCCI emb-races this change and is striking forward to offer their own distribution platform - Lucy.
This fundamental change in the travel distribution landscape cannot be avoided. Airlines, Hotels and Car rental companies are increasingly switching to direct connect solutions rather than traditional distribution channels. IT solutions provided by the established GDS (Global Distribution Systems) have been considered the norm for many years – the new NDC challengers are sophisticated, affordable and internet compatible. For leisure and corporate travelers, this development is not only beneficial as it requires a search for the available content on multiple platforms and sources.
Lufthansa City Center International brought key players of the industry to one table to jointly discuss their distribution strategies and increase transparency. Altogether, almost 150 attendees participated in the two-day congress, including 85 Lufthansa City Center members from 33 countries.
LCCI Managing Director Uwe Müller welcomed, among others, David Rutnam, responsib-le for NDC at IATA. Further speakers on stage were Marcus H. Frank, Vice President Revenue Management Lufthansa Group Hub Airlines and Bernhard Brauneder, General Manager at Amadeus. In addition, Keith Wallis, Senior Director Distribution and Payments at Air Canada, Alon Meisels, CEO and founder of Atriis Technologies, Michel de Blust from the European travel agency association ECTAA as well as Felix Shpilman, CEO of the hotel aggregator Ratehawk spoke at the conference.
All keynote speakers agreed that NDC offers brand new sales opportunities due to a sophisticated product and price placement. The attending airline representatives de-monstrated the benefits of a modern and developed travel distribution landscape – invol-ving travel agencies and TMCs. “Customer demands are changing. This is why we need new technologies”, said Marcus H. Frank. A diverse and sophisticated content offers a wider variety of sales opportunities as well as the chance to better serve the individual customer needs.
“The global travel market grows continuously“, explained Uwe Müller. We as a travel agency distribution network have to ensure that we gain a bigger portion of this growth for our business. We can only succeed by leading this current movement of change ahead of others in the market and by making use of the opportunities that new technolo-gy provides.
Müller here promoted the LCCI-own distribution platform Lucy. The technology is based on a travel agency distribution platform developed by Israel-based Atriis and unites the traditional GDS content with that of the new NDC tariffs of airlines, plus it is enhanced by further direct connect solutions to hotel and car rental companies. Further suppliers are in the pipeline to be connected. “Lucy enables us to serve the customers independently with the best offer according to the individual’s needs and desires.”
Lucy is a platform that is offered by the LCC Group solely for international markets. In Germany, due to entirely different requirements, LCC franchisees implement BridgeIT, another internal development. With both systems LCC has staken over a leading position and achieves a united display that combines direct connect offers from suppliers in one digital platform for its franchisees. The international platform is offered by LCCI in the categories Lucy full enterprise, Lucy light plus and Lucy light as well as a Corporate Onli-ne Booking Engine. Lucy can additionally be connected to Midoco (a market leading mid office/ERP system), which enables further interfaces to mid- and back office systems to simplify the workflow.
Into the future, LCCI committed to further expanding their Lucy training and support program to streamline the acceptance and wide ranging benefits of this new technology.