New research by the Business Travel Show reveals that just 26 per cent of buyers regard New Distribution Capability (NDC) as a ‘good thing’ compared to 35 per cent in 2017/18.

The survey of corporate travel buyers showed a surge in the number who still feel uninformed about NDC despite 2019 set to be a pivotal year for the new distribution standard.

The number of buyers who said they don’t know whether new airline distribution strategies are a good thing jumped from 39 per cent in last year’s survey to 59 per cent this year, showing there is still confusion about the proposed benefits of NDC.

In addition, when asked how their opinion of NDC has changed over the last 12 months, 41 per cent admitted they don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision.

The Business Travel Show says the impact on pricing may be one of the main drivers behind whether buyers perceive NDC to be a good or bad thing; when asked what impact they had seen from the introduction of new airline distribution, 27 per cent said prices had increased compared to 18 per cent last year.

Furthermore, 7 per cent of buyers switched carriers in the last year (up from 6 per cent in 2017), but a third remain unaware of NDC’s impact – a big jump from 22 per cent in the previous survey.

Even more worryingly, only 16 per cent reported seeing more transparency in pricing from airlines – down from 18 per cent last year. Only 5 per cent said they hadn’t seen any effect from the introduction of NDC compared to 13 per cent last year.

Commenting on the positive impact of NDC, Sarosh Waghmar, CEO of WTMC, said: “NDC will finally offer personalisation and pricing transparency. This will be one of the biggest outcomes for business travellers and travel managers that will lead to a better experience and savings.”

However, Helder Mendes, travel supplier relations manager for NetJets Europe, said: “I’m still quite concerned about NDC. It’s too early in its lifespan to produce any visible results. However, if airlines are able to manipulate through NDC as they claim, corporate buyers may be able to purchase precisely what they need rather than purchasing what airlines have been pushing corporate accounts to purchase. Meaning, if my company needs air tickets at a decent rate, including pre-assigned seat, one piece of hold luggage, one carry-on plus one personal item, fast track and semi-flexible tickets, we may get precisely that instead of having to buy full flex or premium fares. But we are yet to see if this is what’s going to happen.”

Both Waghmar and Mendes are taking part in a panel at the Business Travel Show on 20 February from 1430-1530 titled “NDC – will travel buyers win or lose?”

Other sessions focused on changes in distribution include “NDC – What, why, how and the journey to 2020” on 20 February from 1600-1700.

To view the full conference programme, click here

Business Travel Show takes place at Olympia London from 20-21 February. Register for a free visitor pass at businesstravelshow.com/register

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