In April, ARC and ATPCO hosted more than 700 industry professionals for a joint conference, Elevate + TravelConnect, which gave attendees the opportunity to network and learn from industry experts about the latest drivers of innovation in air travel.

The event spotlighted the industry’s progress with NDC, with several sessions focused on the real-world learnings from accelerated NDC implementation. This year is proving to be pivotal for modern airline distribution, and ARC is ready to help airlines, technology providers and travel agencies unlock the power of NDC.

The Second In-Person NDC Advancement Working Group Meeting

Building off the success of our first in-person meeting, ARC convened the NDC Advancement Working Group at the event, which brought together stakeholders from across the ecosystem to create best practices around noncompetitive challenges related to NDC.

As with our first meeting, the conversation was lively, with all the group’s attendees fully utilizing our time together to discuss how we can make NDC adoption more accessible.

The meeting focused on the need for clearer and consistent industry definitions around exchanges, re-shopping processes, ticketing time limits, debit memos and waiver rules. We talked at length about the issues being experienced by travel agencies and airlines around these items. An important part of these meetings is when we discuss what would be the ideal future state for these issues, which allows our group participants from across the distribution ecosystem to voice their proposed solutions and best practices, which are then further discussed.

We look forward to sharing more from this meeting in the coming weeks.

Expertise from Around the Industry

After the NDC Advancement Working Group meeting ended, it was time to hear from other experts about NDC. In a session moderated by The Beat’s Jay Boehmer, Delta Air Lines’ managing director of sales technology and global sales support Sara Reid and AmTrav's CEO and co-founder Jeff Klee shared their perspectives on the state of airline distribution and where the industry is headed when it comes to NDC adoption.

Reid noted that the industry has pushed EDIFACT to the limit of its capabilities and that airlines are looking to NDC to help innovate their product lines. She hinted at a Delta announcement around their NDC partnerships which came to fruition the following week. Klee was complimentary of the airlines pushing NDC adoption forward and how the schema benefits the newest generation of business travelers who look for more flexibility when booking travel via mobile devices.

In Thursday’s first mainstage session, ZS Associates’ Kunal Shah gave a keynote presentation on how NDC increases offer personalization and can serve as a revenue generator. As Shah explained, enriched traveler data generated by NDC enables airlines and travel agencies to market content that increasingly resonates with travelers. This also enables suppliers to sell bundles and ancillary services, along with building customer loyalty, according to Shah.

In one of the final NDC-focused breakout sessions, I hosted a panel discussion focused on how TMCs can unlock the value of NDC. During our panel time, the point was made that TMCs need to think about the limitations of EDIFACT and how NDC solves them as opposed to thinking about what challenges adopting NDC might create. The industry no longer needs to accept what EDIFACT can’t do with NDC adoption accelerating. As one of my panelists remarked, not adopting NDC is no longer an option, but there will always be a place for the GDSs.

Looking Ahead

In-person events like Elevate + TravelConnect present a tremendous opportunity to dive deep into the issues and trends impacting our partners and industry. We took full advantage of our time in Washington, D.C. and left the event with key learnings and concrete next steps to making widescale NDC adoption more realistic.

I am excited for what the future holds with our NDC Advancement Working Group and upcoming industry meetings.