By Alice Ferrari, CEO, Kyte

Last week Kyte was in Lisbon attending the UATP annual conference on Airline Distribution. I was invited to speak on a panel o discuss NDC’s roll out in the industry together with Steve Domin, CEO of Duffel, Jorge Diaz, CEO of Air Gateway, David Gunnarsson, CEO of Dohop and Charlotte Dumesnil, Director of Sales, Distribution and Alliances from Vueling.

New Distribution Capability is an API protocol that airlines are adopting to take control over their third party distribution and reduce their reliance on legacy intermediary technology, mainly provided by Global Distribution Systems or GDSs.

When asked whether legacy technology is effective in the way airlines market their products, I responded by saying that today everyone is capable of booking a flight, adding a bag and in most cases choosing a seat, no question about that. However, if we look back over the last 20 years not much has changed in the flight booking experience whilst consumer behaviour has evolved extensively and people expect multiple options and flexibility at their fingertips. Without the appropriate tools, airlines are missing out on: (1) Building better engagement with their customers, (2) Improving the booking experience and indirectly the actual flight journey, (3) Creating more and better revenue streams.

Existing airline distribution and retail systems, including NDC are built on technology for a world where the role of the internet was merely to provide information in a passive way and to offer basic functionalities. Data personalisation was extremely limited or non-existent and retailers had little or no ability to influence consumer decisions and curate what they see.

The entire online retailing ecosystem is based on the collection of huge quantities of information about users as well as the ability to curate the content that is fed to them rather than randomly presenting information. Furthermore, there is a rising importance of good quality APIs in order to take advantage of the API driven economy and play a leading role in driving revenue through partnerships.

Whilst NDC is a great step forward for the industry, the current state of these APIs still causes a lot of friction and heavily limits partnership opportunities due to the technical burden and costs associated with it.

Keeping up with the demands of modern consumers requires flexibility, more independent channels and to achieve this airlines will be making heavy investments in their tech stacks. NDC is deemed to be the first step, a change in behaviour for airlines that have been looking to move away from the traditional way of using GDSs to sell their content to travel agencies.

Now arguably that first step has been taken and it’s time to take the second step, the third… or even the full tour. NDC is a concept and needs to be adapted to modern technology to ensure it evolves with today’s needs making it easier to adopt and update.

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