The majority of agents believe Iata’s New Distribution Capability can help them be more competitive and customer-focused while making selling airline ancillary products more efficient.
The claim comes from the results of a joint study between the airline trade body and select members of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance.
However, no agents from the UK or Ireland were involved in the research into NDC, an XML-based data transmission standard that Iata says will enhance communications between airlines and agents.
Iata partnered with associations representing agencies based in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the US that are members of WTAAA.
The study included 22 qualitative interviews with travel agents around the world and surveys from about 1,000 agents.
It found that:
• On average 76% of travel agencies book airline ancillary products and services with most using airline websites to do so
• Agents are concerned about the loss of productivity associated with moving back and forth between their standard screen displays and airline websites in order to book ancillary options
• Agents recognise that airline websites offer the most complete selection of airline product and service options and they believe they are at a competitive disadvantage owing to this disparity
•Travel agents expect to be compensated for selling ancillary products and services
•The development of branded fares, sometimes referred to as fare families, has created some confusion in the travel agency community. Around one in four travel agencies are uncertain whether they book fare families or branded fares
•A plurality of agents (43%) take a deliberately slow pace in adopting new technology
•Agencies will likely rely on GDSs most for support in adopting NDC
Iata senior vice president financial and distribution services, Aleks Popovich, said: “The study bears out that the travel agent channel as currently situated is not able to efficiently meet all the needs of air travellers. NDC will address this gap by enabling efficient access to content that currently is available only on airline websites.”
Jayson Westbury, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and spokesman for the participating agency associations, said: “The NDC discussion has been around the global travel industry for many years.
“This study has brought to light some important and interesting insights from the travel agency perspective and is welcomed by those agency associations that have been involved.”