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NDC: Tipping the scale of NDC adoption

October 21, 2021

EM

By Erik Magnuson
VP Product Management, Mobility & Payments

In my last blog Four Ways to avoid an NDC winter I discussed how overcoming the credibility gap between the early adopters and early majority was a critical stage in our NDC journey. For the final blog in this series, I discuss how focusing on product related factors can influence adoption as well. Unlike the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner is told ‘If you build it, he will come’, if we want NDC to hit some home runs, we need to do more than simply build. We must also focus our attention on the factors that will drive adoption.

There are several product related factors that influence adoption which can all be assessed by asking five simple questions:

1.    Does the new product offer clear benefits over the incumbent?

2.    Is the new product consistent with the customers’ existing experience?

3.    Is the product easy to understand?

4.    Is the new product easy to try?

5.    Can customers see others using the new product?

The more questions you can answer yes to, the easier the path to mass adoption.

How would we answer these questions for NDC and NDC enabled content?

The answer to the first question is clearly “yes”. The new NDC standard and resulting technologies offer a clear advantage over the existing standards and technology in terms of flexibility, interoperability and speed to market.

However, even with NDC’s promise of richer, more relevant content, convenience, and choice, it’s difficult to answer ‘yes’ to the remaining four questions. After all, NDC will:

  • significantly alter the shopping experience for travelers,
  • provide new rich and diverse content while simultaneously creating more complexity, making things such as comparison shopping difficult,
  • be difficult to “try” due to Integration requirements with existing infrastructure, business processes, tools, reporting and workflows,
  • require more case studies and evidence beyond small scale pilots.

All these challenges have the potential to slow adoption but we can tip the scale in our favor if we filter NDC product priority and initiatives through the lens of these 5 simple questions and focus on turning all the answers to “yes”.

Tipping the adoption scale with product focused change

Here are some of the things I believe can make a difference:

  • Delivering consistency with the travelers existing experience - NDC is focused on improving the customer experience so this is not about ensuring NDC-enabled content looks like traditional content. It is about highlighting the key servicing and capability gaps filled by NDC. By identifying and focusing on the opportunities to improve current capabilities and closing the gaps for business travelers, we can showcase incremental benefits and deliver an enhanced traveler experience.
  • Making NDC content easier to understand – The ability for the industry to deliver a user-friendly display and focusing on 2-3 products with high traveler demand at a time will reduce the learning curve for travelers and help manage complex requirements.
  • Making it easier to try and experience NDC-enabled content - By removing airline variations and standardizing the implementation of the NDC standard, we can simplify the integration of existing booking, productivity, billing and support systems,
  • Making it easier to see and observe others benefiting from NDC enabled content – Continuing industry efforts to demonstrate progress but change our focus from small scale pilots to full end-to-end integrations.

These five simple points can give key industry stakeholders a common framework to address adoption challenges across the industry and collaboratively prioritize efforts to improve adoption.

Combining this perspective with overcoming the credibility gaps for the early majority I covered in my earlier blog could be the accelerant we need to move to mass adoption.  Of course, we can only do this with a collaborative approach that aligns our goals on delivering end-to-end value to our clients and their travelers, which ultimately, is the purpose of NDC.

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