July 17, 2019

Smart Tech + NDC Drive Hyper-Relevant Booking for Business Travelers

Think back to when you were in second grade — Do you remember how amazing your friendships were? If you had a best pal, no doubt you were inseparable and maybe even knew what the other was thinking with an almost spooky intuitiveness. You liked the same things. You knew and trusted each other’s opinions. You could finish each other’s sentences.

We at TripActions believe we now have the means to recreate that same wonderous feeling of understanding and complete confidence to meet our customers’ business travelers’ preferences and needs. And we predict that when combined with machine learning-driven technology, the vast choice we provide to our travelers — enhanced further by the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard we now offer in partnership with United Airlines — will actually help bring this about. Here’s how.

The ultimate goal: A more relevant booking experience for today’s business traveler.

In 2016, Accenture brilliantly coined the term “hyper-relevance”. They defined it as not focusing “…solely on a customer’s preferences, or on relatively fixed attributes such as their gender or age.” Instead, they said it required considering “…the evolving context in which customers make decisions and purchase products and services.”

Easy to say, not so easy to deliver on. Especially when you consider that up to that time, many so called “personalized experiences” online were little more than unwanted products being pushed on consumers. People had a bad taste about it because they were upsold based on assumptions rather than their true intentions or past behaviors. Desperate companies tried to improve the experience by asking customers to volunteer more and more personal information, but consumers balked, not wanting to let corporations in on their privacy.

Thankfully, customer-centric powerhouses such as Amazon and Disney have helped narrow the rift between privacy and trust. Tech-dependent consumers now expect seamless conduits like Siri and Alexa to “know” them, and even predict their needs. Luckily, when combined with the right inventory selection, today’s intelligent technology can surface any individual consumer’s preferred choice almost instantly. As a customer-centric organization that understands business travelers are also consumers, TripActions aims to bring that smarter shopping experience to corporate travel.

NDC-enhanced choice combined with machine learning opens the doors to an even greater traveler experience.

Our forward-thinking R&D team at TripActions is focusing on NDC as an extension of our promise to offer all available inventory to our business travelers. The more choice we offer on our platform, the deeper our machine learning-enabled technology can go in understanding what each individual traveler wants — and the more hyper-personalized the TripActions experience becomes.

To make sure everyone is up to speed, New Distribution Capability — or NDC — was introduced by IATA in 2012 to great fanfare. It was hoped that this XML standard would enable travel service providers to serve airline content and ancillaries directly to end-customers. Sounds cool. Unfortunately, since then, adoption has been slow, due to the challenges of aligning an entire ecosystem around a set of brand new standards.

Thankfully, that time of hesitation has come to an end.

There is a ground-swell of activity around NDC right now across key players, led by us here at TripActions. The airlines are more aggressively joining the pack. There are now 21 major air carriers on the official IATA Leaderboard and more coming. They are all committed to “having 20% of sales powered by an NDC API by 2020.”. That means delivering the same offerings found on their websites to aggregators and GDS’s, alike.

The GDS’s are hotly pursuing their own flavors of NDC with all three of the major players recently celebrating obtaining Level 3 Certification: the ability to make offers and fulfill orders.

Getting ready for “second grade best friend” quality experiences.

Travel management platforms — led by us at TripActions -— are being driven by the promise of providing the most transparent flight booking experience and the ultimate range of choice to end-users. NDC has to be part of that equation to ensure continuity with what the average traveler can get on their own dealing one-to-one with airlines, and when powered by machine learning-driven technology, it surfaces even more relevant options to deliver that same trust and familiarity you could count on with that second grade best friend.

For more on how NDC and other innovative booking advancements are changing the corporate travel management game, check out our on-demand webinar co-hosted by United Airlines, Flight Booking 2.0: The Next Generation Business Travel Experience..