Sabre Corporation has announced four industry partners that will join its Beyond NDC programme to lead in the evolution of New Distribution Capability.
Beyond NDC is a collaborative innovation initiative chartered by Sabre to drive the development, integration and testing of end-to-end capabilities to process NDC-enabled offers and orders.
Each of the four launch partners – American Airlines, American Express Global Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Flight Centre Travel Group – will participate with Sabre in the solution design process and leverage beta testing capabilities. Sabre says additional partners will be announced throughout the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
Sabre made a commitment to “lead an industry evolution”, and in May it outlined its roadmap to offer NDC solutions by the end of this year.
At the Sabre Technology Exchange in London, Kathy Morgan, vice president of NDC, said that while the distribution model still had a long way to go and challenges to overcome before it could be fully rolled out to scale, she was sure that collaboration within the industry could drive the evolution of distribution.
Sabre and its Beyond NDC partners will work to build end-to-end retailing capabilities. They will also collaborate to ensure the needs of all participants in the travel ecosystem and that the benefits are seamlessly delivered to the traveller, according to Sabre.
During a press call to go into further detail about the partnerships, Morgan said everyone involved hopes to have APIs ready by the end of this year to begin beta testing with customer participants early in 2019.
“We have a lot to learn as an industry,” Morgan added. “I would say that throughout 2019 you will see the capabilities begin to scale up, as well as the integration of these capabilities in our own and other points of sale.”
Asked whether there were any commitments to take NDC even further than testing applications, Morgan said the current focus of Beyond NDC is to ensure the GDS “gets the solutions right so we help airlines drive more revenue, differentiate their products and ensure that the agencies have access to that content in an efficient way”.
“We are actively working with many airlines concurrently and we will be making further announcements over the coming weeks and months as we bring more partners into the Beyond NDC programme. My focus is about bring this NDC capability to life at scale. You can only do that when you have multiple partners, both on the airline and agency or TMC side, so our goal is to continue to expand this programme with all the participants who are ready. It’s important to recognise that there are a lot of airlines who are not progressing on their NDC strategy at this point, and that’s okay too because we have a lot of capabilities and opportunities to continue working with them.”
Dave Shirk, president of travel solutions at Sabre, said: “By partnering with the world’s largest airline and several of the world’s leading travel management companies, we will bring to market NDC-enabled solutions that go beyond shopping and booking to integrate with the retailing, distribution and fulfilment systems that support the travel ecosystem. Launching this programme with such heavyweights illustrates that we are looking past the near-term goals of NDC to define the future of intelligent airline retailing at scale in both direct and indirect channels.”
Alison Taylor, senior vice president of global sales and distribution at American Airlines, commented: “We’re committed to partnering with Sabre and other travel industry leaders to bring NDC benefits to our customers. Together we will develop capabilities that deliver an improved and personalised traveller experience.”
Mike Qualantone, executive vice president of global supplier relations at American Express Global Business Travel, added: “As the industry evolves, we will continue to work with Sabre and other partners to drive value for our clients by delivering scalable solutions that provide cost-efficient access to content and improve upon servicing capabilities.”
Vince Chirico, senior vice president of global network and technology partners at CWT, said: “We’re pleased to be part of this NDC pilot programme and look forward to working with our industry partners to help shape the future of business travel. Bringing NDC to the market together with the GDSs brings speed to market and the potential to transform the traveller experience through enhanced choice for our corporate traveller customers.”
Greg Parker, executive general manager of Flight Centre Travel Group’s air business, added: “Having had the opportunity to collaborate on the development of the new Sabre Red Workspace, we feel very confident in Sabre’s ability to deliver an innovative solution at scale. This collaboration will help deliver next generation solutions which drive consistency in the end-to-end process. We believe this will herald the start of an exciting new era for our company and for customers of our leisure and corporate businesses, which include our flagship FCM and Corporate Traveller brands.”