Senior corporate travel figures clashed over the value of airline association Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) at last week’s Business Travel Show in London.
Paul Tilstone, consultant and corporate envoy on NDC for Iata, said: “How successful would a restaurant be if the menu didn’t represent what’s on offer and the waiter can’t really tell you?
“NDC is four years old, but the kick-off standard was delivered just four months ago. We’re at the beginning. It’s the first step to personalisation and richer content.
“The system at the moment is just not good enough. Personalisation and richer content through the NDC standard offers a potential solution.
“It will facilitate the purchase of ancillaries, make shopping more personalised and produce better insight into products.”
But Champa Magesh, Amadeus UK and Ireland managing director, said: “Let’s not make NDC more than it is. The world hasn’t waited for NDC. Rich content is already here.
“I take exception to the idea that one standard is the only way to do it. There are multiple standards and many ways to get to the same point. It’s a free market in technology.
“Amadeus powers most of the airline dotcoms. This is not a standard-dependent discussion.”
Moshe Rafiah, chief executive of technology firm Travelfusion, which is involved in NDC trials, said: “NDC is basically about giving airlines control of distribution.
“Airlines want to bring what they are able to do direct to indirect channels. [But] progress is painfully slow. This is not going to roll out in a significant way unless we see a significant speed-up.”
Mark Cuschieri, chairman of the Institute of Travel and Meetings, said: “We’re supportive of NDC. We want informed choice at the point of sale. We want transparency.
“Anything that can enrich content has to be a good thing. NDC could be beneficial.”
But he added: “It’s not happening fast enough, [and] where personalisation differentiates on price it raises concerns.”