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Is Africa embracing the NDC (New Distribution Capability)​ initiative?

At AviaDev 2016, Travel Commerce Solutions introduced the IATA NDC (New Distribution Capability) initiative to the African market.

This year, the team will be back to provide an update and explain how travel companies can improve ancillary revenues. Ahead of the event, I caught up with Manish Shrivastava, Co-founder of TCS (pictured below) to find out some more:

For those who aren't aware of Travel Commerce Solutions, can you introduce the business?

Our solutions help travel companies increase revenue through sales of ancillary products and bundles. They also improve customer experience with rich content and personalised offerings through direct and indirect distribution channels. In addition, they support in cost reduction by simplifying product information management, pricing, merchandising and order management.

At AviaDev Africa 2016, Travel Commerce Solutions conducted a workshop outlining the new IATA NDC (New Distribution Capability) initiative. Can you reintroduce the concept and explain the benefits of adoption?

When we introduce ONE Order, the next step in NDC, we will recap the concepts of NDC Offer Management and the benefits of Merchandising to the participants. The key benefits of implementing NDC for the airlines are: taking complete control of each offer being made to the customer / passenger; ability to dynamically price their products; uniform & consistent product information on all channels and improve revenue and customer satisfaction by using the ability to make personalised offers.

Has NDC been embraced in the African market?

In short, No. As per IATA’s official NDC website, the only African airline to be certified is Fly Egypt in a total of 83 airlines certified today. This clearly shows that African Airlines are slow in adopting NDC. Which should not necessarily be considered as something negative. As a strategy, the airlines could probably be in ‘wait and see’ mode.

Why do you think this is?

Apart from the strategic perspective, as mentioned above, we have observed a few other primary reasons for this slow uptake on NDC.

·       First and foremost is knowledge and understanding. NDC, in itself, is only a standard of communication between airline and distribution systems. To create and distribute offers, airlines require certain adaptation in their internal processes and IT systems. It is only then that the airlines can distribute their products in a better way to take full advantage of NDC. We believe people in the airline and travel industry are still learning about the complete scope of NDC implementation.

·       Secondly, there are not many products in the market that make it easy for these airlines to visualise the concept of NDC.

·       Thirdly and most importantly, visiting existing airline processes and systems that are in play over 50 odd years, is not very simple. Most industry professionals have become experts in a specific area of operation. This takes away the ability to see the bigger picture and also to understand the intricate interplay between multiple systems currently in operation. Simply, the cost implication of the unknown is a big deterrent.

Why do Travel Commerce Solutions feel that the African market holds so much potential?

As already supported by general industry trend and IATA’s forecast, we strongly believe that African market has a tremendous potential. Air travel is the most developed transportation sector and companies are investing in African aviation. There is also a definite potential to learn from the mistakes already made by other regions such as US and Europe. Airlines have already started to realise their place in the economy and its criticality. With open skies African airline market will get very competitive and only the airlines that embrace the new technology to keep costs low and improve revenues will survive the competition.

Finally, please provide an overview of the workshop session that will take place this year at AviaDev

Continuing from last year, we will take thru the airline journey from NDC to ONE Order. We will refresh the knowledge around concepts of NDC and Offer Management. Then we will take it further to Order Management which is a major change in the way airline industry does business today. It has quite some impact on internal airline processes starting from creation of a booking / reservation till the amount is settled and service delivered.

Using our product, that is IATA ONE Order (and NDC) compliant, we will show some examples on how an airline could practically implement NDC to their advantage. 

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