The post Sabre’s Beyond NDC Program: The Importance of Travel Servicing appeared first on TD (Travel Daily Media) Brand TD.
We’ve all been there – the dreaded announcement at the airport: “Your flight has been cancelled.” In that instant, the well-laid plans for our journey can come crashing down like a house of cards. However, advancements in the travel industry are paving the way to mitigate the uncertainty caused by disruptions. Sabre’s Beyond NDC program is one such innovation, emphasizing the servicing aspect of New Distribution Capability (NDC) to make travel management more efficient and less anxiety-inducing for travellers.
Beyond NDC and Simplified Travel
The Beyond NDC program is about more than just checking boxes on a requirements list—it’s about thinking bigger, thinking beyond. To Sabre, NDC isn’t a destination but an important leg of a journey toward personalized, real-time travel retailing.
Much of the excitement and conversation around NDC focuses on the potential to create new types of offers that include innovative content combined in unconventional ways. Yet shopping is only the tip of the NDC iceberg. By design, user displays obscure the world of mid and back-office applications and fulfillment and servicing workflows. Yet, the accurate functioning of these all-important trip management and servicing capabilities are often the determining factor in arriving on-time or scrambling to keep your schedule intact.
NDC Servicing, Defined
While servicing is a single word, it encompasses many topics. This reality often becomes lost in conversation. People speak in broad terms, discussing servicing as if there is a single switch to flip to make things work smoothly. Reality is not so straightforward.
There are multiple capabilities nested under the umbrella terms of ‘servicing.’ These include: cancel, void, refund, voluntary exchange, involuntary exchange, void and refund of a previously exchanged ticket, and…the list goes on.
These capabilities need to be developed for different types of passengers – think adults, children, infants, senior citizens, etc. Furthermore, development work also needs to be completed to support different party sizes—from single travelers to groups.
Finally, each airline interprets the NDC technical standards slightly differently. As a result, developing a servicing capability suite for one airline doesn’t necessarily mean that the code will translate and support another airline. Often, airline-specific development work comes into play. Rather than a single switch to flip, servicing becomes a multi-dimensional puzzle for NDC aggregators—such as the Sabre global distribution system (GDS)—to solve on behalf of travel agencies and other travel sellers.
Sabre’s Beyond NDC program recognizes that there is traveler loyalty and business value to be mined by innovating in the order management and servicing domain. During 2023, Sabre dramatically expanded its NDC servicing capabilities for the ever-growing list of airlines that currently distribute NDC content through the GDS. Accessing NDC content via application programming interfaces (APIs), or through the agency booking solution, Sabre Red 360, travel agencies can keep travelers moving by cancelling, voiding, refunding and exchanging NDC orders for single and multiple passenger itineraries that include adults, children, and infants, among other types of passengers. When airlines make a schedule change, travel agencies remain in-the-know due to Order Change Notification (OCN) functionality. OCN helps different links in the travel value chain – airlines, travel agencies, and travelers – stay in sync.
The Path to ONE Order
NDC also lays the groundwork for IATA’s ONE Order initiative. ONE Order aims to consolidate the way airlines handle fulfillment, delivery, and accounting processes. While ONE Order may not eliminate disruptions, it will streamline the way they are managed. By phasing out the ubiquitous passenger name record (PNR) and electronic miscellaneous documents (EMDs), ONE Order simplifies airline fulfillment. In their place, it introduces a more efficient system based on orders. Different content types can be associated with a single order, rather than multiple identifier codes. This transition, albeit gradual, will fundamentally transform the way airlines, agencies, and delivery providers communicate. Simpler processes should result in faster and more efficient processing times, leading to improved experiences for travelers on the move.
The trajectory of Sabre’s Beyond NDC program aligns with the ONE Order initiative. By adopting NDC and selling travel based on offers and orders, airlines and travel sellers are equipping themselves with tools that will allow them to grow revenue, improve experiences for travelers, and streamline operations.
While no one looks forward to flight disruptions, the spread of initiatives like NDC and ONE Order introduce technology to make the recovery process far less cumbersome. Travelers can expect fewer calls, fewer clicks, and, ultimately, less commotion when their plans go awry.
Sabre is currently live with 17 airline partners, most recently having launched LOT Polish Airlines. To learn more or get started with NDC, visit https://visit.sabre.com/go-beyond-ndc
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