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British Airways reassures buyers over NDC

British Airways has insisted that it will not bypass travel buyers when marketing to business travellers through new NDC-based channels.

Ian Luck, BA’s head of distribution, said the airline was not planning to use NDC as a way of approaching business travellers directly without first talking to their corporate travel department and TMC.

“We recognise that a corporate traveller is from a particular corporation,” Luck said during a panel session on NDC at the Business Travel Show in London.

“We can give you preferred benefits such as lounge access and access to seating, which is pretty crude. But in time, you could tell us that you want us to treat your top ten travellers differently.

“That will come through the corporate travel buyer or TMC. It’s not about talking to your travellers without talking to you.”

BA is planning to introduce new short-haul price points in the first half of 2018, which will only be accessible through NDC. The airline also introduced a £8 fee for GDS bookings in November 2017, which applies unless the TMC has an individual deal with BA and sister carrier Iberia to waive this fee.

Luck insisted that NDC was “good news for corporate customers” because it would allow more innovation when selling through B2B channels, although he admitted it was “still relatively early in the journey”.

“We are selling through NDC today,” he added. “We already have agents connected – typically at the smaller end of the market. Many agents are testing it with different technology suppliers. I’m confident we will have made significant progress by this time next year.”

Gianni Pisanello, vice-president of Amadeus’ NDC-X programme, said the latest version of NDC standards, being developed by IATA, were now “at a stage where it can be industrialised”.

“The 2018 version is one you can use on a grand scale,” said Pisanello. “We are moving from GDS to a travel platform aggregating all content wherever it comes from. We see this as an opportunity.”

Although Pisanello added that the introduction of more NDC-based channels would create an “increase in complexity” and make “comparison more difficult”.

David Oliver, procurement manager for Red Bull Company, was also positive about the development of NDC channels.

“It seems to be more collaborative in the way people are performing,” he told the session. “My worry had been that there were a lot of unknowns until it gets embedded. But there seems to some momentum to it this year. It looks good or buyers.”

Oliver called for NDC channels to allow “smart filtering” which could be carried out at a corporate level and stop travellers from having access to certain ancillary airline products, if necessary.

 

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