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Archive for the ‘NDC’ Category

Are You Shopping for a Shopping Engine?

Checklist for NDC “Single Source of Truth” Pricing

One of the visions for IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) is the airline as the “single source of truth”. However, for an airline to control and create its own dynamically-priced offers across every channel requires new levels of performance, scalability, and flexibility not supported by conventional PSS or third party pricing engines.

Airline IT and Revenue Management executives at airlines around the world are scratching their heads as they consider what needs to be done to deliver on NDC, omni-channel dynamic pricing, and personalization. The problem? Most of the time, the airline’s incumbent shop/price provider (which may or may not be the airline’s PSS) cannot scale to accommodate high-volume search, and is limited to ATPCo-filed fares and ancillaries, and has no solution for real-time creation of an offer.

If this sounds familiar to you, then there is no better time than the present to explore the benefits of next generation shopping technology! But before investing in the time and expense of an RFP, consider this checklist as you embark on your search.

Checklist for Your Airline’s NDC-Aligned Shopping Engine

  • Handles extremely extremely high volumes of search requests with millisecond response time, and with unlimited scalability.
  • Supports large data sets, and calendar shopping without performance degradation or cost-prohibitive charges
  • Supports NDC shopping including Affinity and Attribute shopping
  • Includes a rules engine that integrates with any number of airline data sources to influence the offer (e.g. CRM, Frequent Traveler, Loyalty, Revenue Management)
  • Gives airlines unlimited control to configure business rules, with any level of desired granularity (by market, channel, seasonality, equipment, traveler profile/FF, or even individual travelers)
  • Supports ATPCO and non-ATPCO filed fares (i.e. fares created directly by the airline and/or based on bid price)
  • Supports dynamic pricing without reliance on cache or costly PSS hits
  • Provides optional engines for off-PSS Availability Calculation and Schedule-Building
  • Runs on commodity hardware with unlimited scalability
  • Includes an NDC API for delivery of the priced offer to any channel
  • Is PSS-agnostic and fully under the airline’s control

In the interest of full transparency, Farelogix’ new FLX Shop & Price engine just happens to support all of these requirements, and we would be delighted to talk with you about it. Contact sales@farelogix.com and we can answer any questions you may have.

Or, you might want to consider attending the industry’s first Control-Your-Offer Symposium, taking place in Miami April 5-6, where you can see NDC shopping and merchandising in action.

No matter what solution you choose, we wish you luck on your shopping trip!

ndc-monster-jpg

It’s hard to believe another Halloween has come and gone. It’s a time of year that the team at Farelogix looks forward to, with just about everyone showing up to work in their most creative costumes. But come November, it’s time to stop telling the same old ghost stories, and put the costumes, scary movies, and decorations away. I also give up on my attempt to lose the 10 pounds I put on chomping away at Halloween candy “for the kids”.

However, Halloween 2016 has had me thinking a lot about NDC. Since its inception just a few years ago, NDC has become a popular target for myths, scary stories, and some good old-fashioned fear mongering. “NDC is impossible!” “NDC will never work!” “NDC will end the world of travel agency distribution!” “NDC. Boo!”

I’ve even seen blog posts and articles where pro-NDC comments I have made have been twisted, morphed, and transformed into pessimistic anti-NDC rants and untruths. How crazy is that?

The time to be fearful of or worried about NDC is long gone, for a couple of reasons. First, there’s nothing to fear about a new technology standard that enables airlines to be the “single source of truth” for all their sales channels (for the first time in our industry, I might add!), thanks to a robust XML API technology that is in favor with more than twenty airlines that I know and plenty more in the queue. Second, and most importantly, NDC is – in production with live orders – already happening. It is in production with many of the world’s leading airlines and lots more have plans to follow. In other words, the NDC train has left the station, and it is now time for us, as an industry, to be full-on in execution mode. Perhaps it’s this last point that explains the recent flurry of NDC phobias and falsehoods; after all, don’t they say people tend to get nervous when planning is over and it is time for action? Well, we promise there is no monster under the bed, so let’s stop with the scary stories and instead focus on taking action.

And yes, there is plenty of action to take: Airlines are beginning to take control of technology that enables them to create and deliver their offers; GDSs need to up their game when it comes to integrating an airline’s NDC API and displaying and transacting on all this wonderful new content; corporate booking tools need to stop worrying about what the GDSs think and retool their booking apps to connect to, and display, all this wonderful new content being negotiated between airline and corporation; and the PSSs need to let their airline customers stop using their community-based applications and help their airline customers integrate the best-of-breed offer creation tools. Yep, plenty to do, but nothing too scary. (Well, unless you really just enjoy telling ghost stories…)

If you’re ready to put the scary talk behind you and look ahead at NDC-aligned technology that can help you put your airline in control of its offers, we lay out all the details here. You can also ask us any question you may have to allay your fears!

It’s beeOptical fibern a long time coming, but it’s incredibly rewarding to finally see NDC connectivity to the Sabre GDS enabling airline product differentiation, personalization, and improved profitability.

If you missed the news, I’ll recap it for you. American Airlines recently announced its GDS integration to Sabre using the airlines’ NDC-style API. It’s no secret that Farelogix built and powers the AA direct connect API, and that we are incredibly proud of the work that has been done with the airline to date. Connecting a full-service airline’s API to a GDS is no easy feat – at least doing it the first time – but all three companies (Sabre, AA, and Farelogix) worked hard and cooperatively to make this happen. But, believe it or not, that’s not the real story here.

The real story is what this connectivity to Sabre means for an industry that has basically been “stuck” in third party distribution limbo for years. This announcement just changed the status quo for everyone, and it’s a win-win situation for all. No one loses.

Airlines win by being able to offer differentiated content, which can increase loyalty and generate new revenue. The TMCs/OTAs win by having the most up-to-date and relevant airline content, helping to secure their value proposition to their customers. The GDSs win by being able to deliver (and ultimately display and sell) new airline services to their users (i.e., airlines, TMCs, and corporate booking tools). Consumers and corporate travelers win by getting access to the airline content and product choices they have been clamoring for, with minimal process change.

Given our history with Sabre, I was skeptical about ever seeing this level of win-win situation in airline distribution in my lifetime. But there it is, staring us right in the face. And although there is still much more work that has to be done to bring the entire industry in line with NDC, for once we are all moving forward in the right direction. New airline connectivity to GDSs is here, and it is reloading the value proposition for what was always viewed as a tired, outdated, and over-priced distribution channel. Plus, any future GDS integrations with our other airline customers will be almost automatic since 90 percent of the integration work is reusable with any GDS, thanks to an NDC-aligned integration standard.

How great is that? And in my lifetime too!

We recently announced the launch of NDC-Xpress, a technology solution that enables airlines to implement New Distribution Capability (NDC) with minimal risk and unprecedented speed to market. Building on the core technologies of the flagship FLX Airline Commerce Gateway, NDC-Xpress delivers airline-controlled merchandising, pricing, and API distribution in a SaaS model, with implementation delivered in less than six months using the latest NDC schemas (Version 1.1).

NDC-Xpress logoNDC-Xpress enables airlines to immediately begin generating new revenue streams from the sale of value-added services in the agency channel. In addition, significant cost savings may be realized through the delivery of content across multiple indirect channel outlets (i.e., GDSs and other third party aggregators) via a single, standardized XML API inclusive of a common and supported implementation structure.

“The focus of NDC-Xpress is speed to market for the long overdue delivery of airline ancillaries, merchandising, rich content, and value-added services in the agency channel,” said Jim Davidson, President and CEO at Farelogix. “With the final approval of IATA’s Resolution 787 (NDC) by the US Department of Transportation and the competitive push for airlines to offer dynamic and differentiated content across channels – beyond airline.com – the timing could not be better for Farelogix to deliver a solution that brings NDC to life, quickly and to the benefit of all parties.” Read the rest of this entry »

Now that DOT has cleared the storm clouds over NDC, airline conference rooms around the globe are being booked for meetings about NDC.  These meetings range from a simple, internal exploratory discussions on the NDC topic to serious “next steps” planning sessions on whether the airline will buy or build its own NDC API, while also prioritizing which GDSs and aggregators are ready to accept the airline’s NDC XML API when it’s ready.

© agsandrew - Fotolia.com

© agsandrew – Fotolia.com

Now before we get into whether to NDC or not NDC, I think a few clarifying facts and terms are in order. Along with the term “NDC,” one will quickly have to deal with terms and concepts like “NDC Solution Providers,” “Aggregators,” and “NDC Schema.”  So let’s start with some basic definitions.

NDC Solution Providers are generally technology companies, including those operating a PSS (Passenger Service System), that have both the capability and interest in building out airline NDC XML API connectors inclusive of comprehensive integration with the airline host and other systems, such as merchandising and pricing.  (In case you were wondering, Farelogix fits into this category). I like to call this group the Makers.

NDC-Capable Aggregators are generally distribution-related companies or travel technology companies that possess the capability to accept and integrate an airline’s NDC XML API with other airline content from one or more sources.  Obviously the GDS companies are the biggest of these aggregators, but there are a growing number of others making a name for themselves in this space.  I call these folks the Takers.

NDC Schema is the actual technical connectivity roadmap that is being standardized by IATA and airline/3rd party workgroups.  NDC Schema version 1.1 is anticipated to be finalized and published in Q4 of this year.

This version 1.1 schema will officially be the first technical “rules of engagement,” if you will, for those NDC Solution Providers and NDC-Capable Aggregators.  The Solution Providers (the Makers) will build out the airline connectivity, most likely starting with the NDC-shop, as this defines the offer/pricing creation at the airline level – the essence of NDC. The NDC Solution Providers will follow the NDC Schema so that the NDC-Capable Aggregators (the Takers) will have a reliable and consistent set of connectivity messages.  In other words, if an NDC-Capable Aggregator connects to two or more airline NDC XML APIs (even if for shop only) where those airline XML APIs were built by different NDC Solution Providers, they will send and receive consistent and expected data.  This makes the life for an NDC-Capable Aggregator a heck of a lot easier and enables them to scale and perform multiple airline connectivity for their customers in the most efficient manner.

Up Next… the real questions around “To NDC, or Not To NDC” because you know we just love to Ask the Question!

The DOT’s approval of IATA Resolution 787 (NDC) marks an important milestone for the industry, as it removes any last remaining uncertainty that the nature of airline distribution is evolving for the good of all supply chain constituents. By embracing a modernized messaging standard, airlines are enabled to distribute new products and services efficiently and effectively to travel agencies and corporations, in much the same manner as they do on their websites today, using a standardized API. This is essential to closing the distribution gap between airline.com and the indirect channel.

In the years that this has been debated, innovation has continued to propel forward. Airlines are already investing in powerful new merchandising and distribution engines that enable them to create a wider range of offers, bundles, and services that are proving popular with consumers. GDS companies such as Travelport are already integrating with NDC-like XML APIs from Air Canada, American Airlines and WestJet. OTAs such as Priceline are selling premium seats using the same technology approach. Change is already happening.

We believe DOT’s approval of Resolution 787 will fuel even more innovation among players in the supply chain who are competing to creatively adopt and implement NDC and differentiate themselves in the process. On the airline side, those carriers that have been on the fence about investing in their own merchandising, distribution and APIs may now move forward. On the agency side, the pressure is on for GDS companies, TMCs and OTAs to enhance their user interfaces to ensure they can competitively consume new types of airline content delivered via the XML API, including rich media, bundles, personalized offers, and more. This is the new footrace to determine who will lead the way in terms of delivering on NDC.

Don’t freak out yet, just keep calm and read on.

It’s been a few weeks now since our jaunts to Singapore and Barcelona where we, along with the folks from Airline Information, LEK Consulting, and a handful of great presenters, conducted half-day NDC in Action Symposiums to an audience packed with airlines, GDSs, TMCs, and other technology providers. These symposiums were not about whether NDC is good or not (because all the relevant players agree that it is), but rather focused on Merchandising Strategy, User Experience, and Mid-Sized (not Big) Data, along with performing some real-life demonstrations of “NDC in Action” to show the benefits available to airlines, travel agencies, and consumers.

© learchitecto - Fotolia.com

© learchitecto – Fotolia.com

But back to the question at hand: did LCCs invent NDC? Well, I think the basic premise of NDC lies directly with Low Cost Carriers like as EasyJet and others. These early renegades, when building an airline from scratch, took advantage of some technological innovation (primarily XML) to build their own individual airline APIs (Application Programming Interface), then publish those APIs to internal and external distribution touchpoints like their websites, mobile apps, the GDSs, OTAs, etc. It was pretty novel back then, but looking back it was very logical. They are low-cost airlines, with low-cost mentalities, working with low-cost systems. They are not tied into all the legacy complexities around a big PSS, EDIFACT, and the GDSs. Theirs is a simple and pure concept: distribute their content through their websites and other customer touchpoints using a single integration XML API. Read the rest of this entry »

In case you missed last week, IATA’s Alexander Popovich wrote a great piece in Tnooz explaining some of the fears and angst surrounding NDC. Definitely worth the read!

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NB: This is a viewpoint by, Aleks Popovich, senior vice president for financial and distribution at the International Air Transport Association.

Providing customers with more information and choice, enabling agents to sell a wider range of products and opening up a new realm of services more closely tailored to customers’ needs.

This should be a welcome development in the travel industry.

However, IATA is well aware that many in the travel agency community are concerned about IATA’s Resolution 787, the foundation document for the New Distribution Capability (NDC) project.

Yet despite the filing of 400+ comments and motions for or against Resolution 787 with the US Department of Transportation, there has been almost no attention paid to what is really driving travel agent angst over the NDC project: fear of the unknown.

Read the rest of the article at Tnooz.

© jkphoto69 - Fotolia.com

© jkphoto69 – Fotolia.com

I just got back from GBTA, where it was really nice to see some old friends and meet some new ones. Hearing Jewel’s story at lunch was absolutely fantastic, and she can still belt out the songs. The sessions I attended were fairly informative, but I will say it was interesting to see that all of the push back and anger that was once directed towards Direct Connect has found some additional new friends with Open Bookings and IATA’s NDC.

And on the topic of NDC, could Sabre and BTC be any more off the mark? Sabre was either intentionally misleading GBTA attendees or they have been reading their own NDC propaganda for so long that they actually believe it. In either case, the misinformation campaign against NDC was alive and well throughout the conference: Travelers will have to provide all their personal information! Bookings will all be made outside of the GDS! Trip servicing will be impossible! And by the way, BTC did go way too far in making their subtle yet pointed connection to NDC and terrorism. Haven’t we learned yet that fear mongering is just kind of shameful and bad for everyone?

Anyway, during one general session moderated by Philip Wolf (the PhoCusWright legend), he asked the audience—measured informally through applause—whether NDC will be good, indifferent, or bad for the industry. You can imagine after two days of various people pontificating on “the ills” of NDC, the overwhelming applause was for bad for the industry. At that point Philip stated that he conducted a similar poll back in 1995 about whether the Internet would be used for travel and got a similar response… Okay, so GBTA is not a good leading indicator of industry trends or technology. Read the rest of this entry »