Ian Heywood – NDC brings opportunities for agents to prove their worth to airlines Ian Heywood – NDC brings opportunities for agents to prove their worth to airlines

Proactive agents can ‘gain advantages’ through NDC

Proactive and innovative agents stand to benefit as much as airlines do from increased flexibility that the New Distribution Capability (NDC) will bring to the travel industry, according to a speaker at Travelport Live in Bangkok this week.

 

Ian Heywood, global head of product and marketing air commerce with Travelport, says agents should be talking to airlines right now about what they can bring to the table in the new API (application programming interface) environment. ‘Agents need to learn from their customers what they need to do to make them more effective in the marketplace. This will enable them to demonstrate their value to an airline or group of airlines. If an agent can say to an airline ‘I can bring you a solution but this is what I need in return – free internet or lounge passes for all my clients for example – that gives them a powerful competitive advantage.’

He says airlines are clearly seeking more control by adopting an API distribution system, with improved sales capability and increased revenue. But he says the benefits won’t be all one way. ‘Through the NDC, airlines will have more capability to personalise and differentiate their offers. It provides extra commercial model flexibility between the agents and the airlines – an airline may offer a fare to one agent that is not offered to another to reflect the different relationship. ‘And I predict agents will have to prove their worth to airlines and perhaps be more loyal to a certain group of airlines.’

 

NDC – get aboard or be left behind, agents told

NDC (New Distribution Capability) is coming and any agents who do not ‘get aboard’ will be left behind, says Ian Heywood, global head of product and marketing air commerce. ‘Travelport has taken that approach and we see opportunities. But we also realise it will take time and it has to work properly – we are realistic.’

 

Heywood says he and his colleagues are talking to more agents all the time, and at a more senior level. ‘Initially some agents were asking ‘how do we stop this from happening?’ But you can’t stop it, this is coming and if you are involved directly you can help shape the future.’ Heywood says that instead of being a threat to agents, NDC gives new opportunities. ‘The airlines are more than willing to work with their agency partners on this.’

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