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Air Distribution Simplified

Understanding the future of air distribution

THE TRANSFORMATION OF AIRLINE RETAILING

In our modern economy experiences create more value than goods and services, making experience a key competitive differentiator, especially in the $8+ trillion global travel industry. It’s a chief motivator of the airlines who have invested billions in cabin, airport, lounge and digital upgrades to improve the traveler experience.

Yet, while at the forefront for many years, the legacy indirect distribution technology and standards have not allowed airlines the flexibility to differentiate products and experiences the same way they can via their websites, direct to customer. This created an imbalanced traveler experience.

To address this, the airlines embarked on an ambitious journey to transform airline retailing and modernize the now outdated technology and standards that served the industry well over the years, into a true digital retailing experience.

The enhancements promise to deliver richer, more relevant content through value-based pricing, convenience, and choice for travelers, across all distribution channels. There are three key components that are required to make this rich content come to life – distribution, content and display.

STAY INFORMED

Air distribution is changing rapidly, read the latest news, announcements and blogs.

BLOGS & ARTICLES

30 June 2021 - Business Travel Magazine: Extra Time
26 May 2021 -
A new store in town: building a consumer-grade platform to serve the business traveler of the future
11 May 2021 - Ready for Take-Off: How the Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the value of NDC

NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

3 May 2021 - Sabre launches New Airline Storefront
23 Feb 2021 - CWT issues first GDS-sourced NDC ticket via an OBT

MORE NEWS FROM CWT

Our approach

CWT has been an early adopter, advocate and influencer in the New Distribution Capability (NDC) journey to today. We are on the threshold of transformational change in the industry, and we have a clear vision for the future.

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DISTRIBUTION

Enabling distribution channels access to enhanced content.

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CONTENT

Providing content with demonstrative value to the traveler.

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DISPLAY

Being able to display content in a way that’s efficient and engaging.

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OUR APPROACH

Delivering a truly digital retailing experience begins with NDC as the foundation. But while NDC is simply a standard for exchange of data between airlines and indirect distribution partners, it is not simply a technology upgrade with relevance only to the IT department.

NDC enabled content will fundamentally change air distribution. It requires transformational change to deliver its promise of richer content, convenience, and choice. AT CWT we are delivering against this challenge through our people, processes and technology, and supporting industry momentum through leadership, advocacy and influence.

We are focused on advocating for and building a multi-channel solution that makes it easier to understand and purchase rich content across all airlines. Our platform strategy allows us to remove air content distribution barriers for clients and suppliers, and by supporting collaboration across the industry we are helping drive new innovative approaches and evolve the NDC offering. We have a clear vision and use our influence to advocate for the unique needs of business travelers. 

UNDERSTANDING THE FUTURE OF DISTRIBUTION - NDC

NDC itself is simply a standard for exchange of data between airlines and indirect distribution partners based on modern technology, giving the airlines the capability to provide richer content, ancillaries, personalization and dynamic offers through an NDC-enabled channel. Effectively, gaining better control over their product in indirect channels such as Travel Management Companies (TMCs), Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), Aggregators and Online Travel Agents (OTAs), improving merchandising capabilities and lowering distribution costs.

It provides indirect distribution channels the building blocks to match the capabilities of an airline’s website and allows them to improve the experience for both travel buyers and sellers.

CURRENT STATE OF PLAY - END Q2 2021

NDC started to gain momentum in 2019 with over 150 industry participants (airlines, aggregators, IT providers), achieving some level of certification.

During the pandemic, the GDS community continued to invest in NDC and mature the depth and breadth of NDC enabled airlines and corresponding capabilities. Non-GDS aggregators continued to make impressive progress on the number of airlines served, as well as servicing capabilities.

The TMC community continues to collaborate with the airlines, GDSs and non-GDS aggregators to mature their NDC solutions and address the unique requirements of a TMC. This collaboration includes integration with productivity tools as well as mid and back-office services, both critical to servicing corporate clients.

For TMCs, incorporating GDS sourced NDC enabled content into the counselor desktop and Online Booking Tool (OBT) is key to being able to service this content long-term. Scalable solutions through the GDS are on the horizon and CWT was the first TMC to issue a GDS-sourced NDC ticket via an OBT in February 2021. We continue to work closely with our industry partners to influence the direction and success of NDC and bring this content to customers, efficiently and at scale.  

UNDERSTANDING THE FUTURE OF CONTENT

Traveler-driven content is the key to driving NDC adoption.

Early in the NDC journey the content enhancements being considered revolved around access to new bundling opportunities and ancillaries, such as early boarding, preferred seating, special meals, and adding personalized content. This has now evolved, with the airlines beginning to define products and capabilities based on traveler desires.

After all, only the traveler can really certify the value of NDC-enabled content based on its ability to address the cost, convenience, choice, and service objectives that are lacking in the current distribution model. Taking this approach will naturally result in the kind of demand that will lead to the mass adoption necessary to make NDC succeed - not only for the industry, but also (and most importantly), for the benefit of business travelers.

To that end, airlines are focused on three broad categories to improve experience and profitability – merchandising, dynamic bundling and dynamic pricing.

CURRENT STATE OF PLAY - END Q2 2021

The success of NDC will be driven by the airlines ability to define and release products that fit the unique needs and servicing capabilities of the business traveler. Currently airlines are at different levels of business travel readiness - where they have content that is relevant for business travelers, and it has the capabilities for servicing business traveler needs.

For those that have reached business travel ready, delivering NDC available content through a non-GDS aggregator is an immediately available solution. Based on airline and market maturity, CWT has delivered thousands of transactions to our early adopters through our own non-GDS aggregator partner, Travelfusion. Broader adoption will remain limited until the product matures and until then, gaps remain in both the servicing and cost of transaction to implement NDC for any organization.

CWT is working with our airline and GDS partners to pilot new content capabilities of NDC through the GDS. Incorporating GDS sourced NDC content into the counselor desktop and OBT is key to being able to reach broader adoption and service this content across your program long-term.  

UNDERSTANDING THE FUTURE OF DISPLAY

NDC addresses the airlines' desire to make rich content available via any channel but does not address the challenge of displaying that rich content at the point of sale. A critical enabler of NDC content will be the ability to provide an enhanced display for consultants and travelers.

For business travelers, the ability to manage complex requirements, such as voluntary and involuntary flight changes, ancillary add-ons and complex fare options, through a user-friendly display will be critical to building confidence in NDC and enabling informed purchasing decisions.


CURRENT STATE OF PLAY – END Q2 2021

The Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO) worked to develop the Next Generation StorefrontTM (NGS) standard in 2019. It’s goal, to set a standard for how OBTs, GDSs, aggregators and OTAs sort and group airline product data in their retailing displays, allowing travelers to compare airline products consistently across multiple distribution channels. CWT was a key advisor, influencer and advocate to APTCO on the data standard and algorithm, testing the standard across airlines, GDSs and OBTs and the advancements made have been critical to the evolution of other NGS-like displays.

In April 2021, ATPCO announced they would shelve the algorithm and move away from dictating display placement, instead focusing on the underlying attribute data. At the same time, Sabre announced its New Airline Storefront (NAS). The foundational capabilities of NAS allow NDC content to be organized in a way that is consumable by business travelers, enhancing the shopping experience with customer choice. CWT worked in close collaboration with Sabre and Delta on NAS, leveraging our experience and learnings from the previous effort with ATPCO on NGS.

The development achieved through NGS and now NAS are important steps forward to addressing the challenge of an enhanced display for both consultants and travelers. 

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