Q&A: NDC progress between Qantas and Sabre

Two businessmen

NDC. Changing the way we shop and book air travel. FCM has been at the forefront of NDC pilots with tech providers and airlines, Sabre and Qantas among them (read more here).

With such early involvement and strong partner relationships, FCM is able to have a powerful voice in shaping how NDC is delivered. By actively testing with airlines and GDSs we can provide feedback and spot discrepancies. That way we can incorporate what is important to our customers and make sure our teams can still manage bookings seamlessly.

While FCM is involved in many global NDC pilots, the projects with Sabre and Qantas are major steps forward for the Australian market. That’s why we wanted to share this recent Q&A between the two companies with you. Take to the stage: Andrew Krush, Partnership Manager at Sabre and Nathan Smeulders, Senior Manager, Distribution at Qantas.

Andrew: What sort of NDC offers and bundled content is Qantas looking forward to delivering?

Nathan: NDC opens up the opportunity for loyal customers to get their own unique offer, which is really exciting. Travel consultants at TMCs will have the ability to shop with a customer's frequent flyer number, then we can validate that number and respond with a unique offer.

Over the next 3-6 months Qantas will look to introduce new types of offers, like bonus frequent flyer points or bonus status credits.

Andrew: What role can NDC play in helping to support a return to travel?

Nathan: COVID-19 has increased the need for information to be clearly visible to travellers and travel consultants. That way they are fully informed about the onboard experience and understand the safety measures on the aircraft and at the airport.

At Qantas we’ve been working with medical teams to ensure they have a robust safety plan in place. We are confident that NDC will help relay this information and hopefully allow travellers to fly sooner and safely.

Andrew: By 2025, what % of Qantas offers will be delivered by NDC or API connectivity vs the traditional EDIFACT channels?

Nathan: Qantas’ goal is to fulfill all offers by NDC by 2025.

There are still some gaps and servicing processes that we are developing and the plan is to bring those in during 2021. So by the end of 2021 we think the vast majority of itineraries can easily be booked and serviced in the Qantas Distribution Platform.

The other dependent on this is the readiness of Qantas’ partners such as Sabre and online booking tools. So it's essential to work with them to ensure they are ready to consume the Qantas content and NDC offers.

Andrew: While collaborating with Sabre on developing NDC, what are some of the lessons that Qantas has learned that can benefit how the industry thinks about deploying NDC at scale?

Nathan: The key lesson is if we don't work collaboratively with Sabre then we won't understand the needs of the travel world.

We can put an offer to market or develop a particular feature for NDC, but will it be utilised? Will it be effective? Would it be a good use of our resources to develop?

Other airlines have had a general rush to put NDC offers out there, even if it may not be working, or the servicing capabilities may not be fully developed and matured. That becomes a problem for the travel consultant, Qantas and the traveller. Because if you can make a booking in NDC but can't service it properly, the traveller is left in a bit of limbo. Obviously we don't want this. We want it to be a fantastic experience for our customers. So working collaboratively with Sabre is the best way to make sure it works.

FCM is at the forefront of the NDC conversations being the first global travel management company to become NDC Level 4 certified. For more information find out more about our approach.


Guide to NDC

Explore NDC further in our guide to NDC and airfare distribution.

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