In this latest blog, we take a look back at last week’s CAPA Aviation summit in Singapore and review the highlights of the panel discussion on NDC – Distribution Game Changers – Adopt or Perish? Gavin Harris, Commercial Director at Skyscanner within our Airline Partnerships division was joined on the panel by Cyril Tetaz, Executive Vice President, Airlines, APAC, Amadeus, Chris Ramm, Vice President Asia Pacific, Air Partners at Travelport and Campbell Wilson, SVP Sales and Marketing at Singapore Airlines.
Legacy distribution systems have for decades presented airlines with the twin problems of high costs and product commoditisation. In efforts to address these issues, a handful of carriers in Europe, and now Asia Pacific, have invested heavily into establishing their own API channels with agents, while the concurrent push by IATA for airlines to implement the NDC standard has encouraged the industry to adopt a retail focused approach to distribution. The GDS will also need to evolve in order to remain relevant and to compete effectively against other intermediaries and aggregators such as metasearch companies (some of which now have direct booking capabilities), as well as digital behemoths such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook - to gain a slice of the pie.
But as airlines work on enhancing their retail offering and improving their merchandising capability via both direct and indirect channels, a resounding message from industry players is that airlines need to consider the importance of mobile and messaging platforms, which are slowly replacing the desktop as the preferred interface for researching and booking travel.
Is this increasingly fragmented and complex commercial and technological distribution landscape sustainable? How will business models evolve in response? Is there a need for a direct connect aggregator?
Should airlines build lots of direct connects or revert back to lean, centralised distribution channels?
Who is going to be offering services to bridge the gap between airlines/aggregators that are NDC compliant and those that aren’t? Will it be the GDS and IT providers, other airlines or speciality providers?
How are newer intermediaries adding value to airline distribution?
How do airlines enhance their digital shopfront? Are airlines over-emphasising the importance of airline.com over mobile messaging platforms and bot technologies?
Speaking on the issue of NDC and Customisation, Gavin commented on Skyscanner’s future NDC strategy and predictions, stating:
Our pipeline of partners with NDC is getting healthier, we're trying to scale the type of ancillaries that airlines can have. We realise you can't go to heavy on customisation.
Further issues explored during the panel discussion included:
NDC - Metasearch - Direct booking capability - How Skyscanner is accelerating new channel adaptation for Airlines
What will the crystalball for Metasearch looks like in 2 years time (Airline , Travel distribution - NDC)
Experiences of BA, Avianca, Singapore Airlines in NDC direct connect - lessons for other Airlines
Retailing, dynamic fare, speed to market, - Good Quality Traffic, High yield - what are marketing opportunity for Airlines - large & small - Can they afford it?
Mobile, messaging- Metasearch - Plans for an integrated solution for airlines?
In a bid to provide more of a consistent product offering across the entire travel distribution ecosystem, Skyscanner announced last month that it had joined NDC Exchange, a platform that enables content interoperability across the airline distribution ecosystem and is a trusted bridge between the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC) and traditional distribution methods. The addition of Skyscanner’s impressive reach to NDC Exchange adds value for all on the platform through a growing network effect. Each month, 80 million people use the Skyscanner website or its highly-rated mobile app, which has been downloaded over 70 million times. Skyscanner’s global reach can also be seen through its products that are offered in over 30 languages and 70 currencies.
Hugh Aitken, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships, Skyscanner will be speaking next at World Aviation Outlook Summit, Berlin on 27-28 November.