NDC: 5 questions an airline should ask – 1/5

By Hélène Millet | Technology

May 11

NDC: 5 questions an airline should ask – 1/5

After 3 years of hard work and tough discussions, the IATA NDC (New Distribution Capability) program is now proposing actual tools for implementation. As early participant to the NDC workshops, Conztanz proposes you a serie of questions that an airline should ask (internally or to its providers) before moving forward.

It is time for an airline to consider how to take advantage of this initiative. Where to start?


Don’t misinterpret the concept!

NDC is New Distribution Capability. It proposes a toolbox of new messages that make you capable of distributing your product better than you do today.

Wait a minute: YOUR PRODUCT… you are in charge! What’s the point in having new shops, with larger windows and very knowledgeable sales agents, if what you sell is nothing but classic? So focus on the product first, be creative, and don’t get stuck and limited by current distribution restrictions.

Marketing department is first in line when moving to the new distribution world. Distribution department is close to follow.

The path ahead is to explore which new capabilities NDC will give you and define your marketing strategy: know what your strengths are, and where the most important feature for your company lies.


Show how different you are from your competitors: show your extra-large seats, your fancy Italian meals, how comfortable your lounges are…

In practice: the focus will be on pictures, films, and crew and/or customers interviews.

Starting point: understand where, in your organization, you can find sources for your enriched content and how much you can rely on their capabilities in regularly delivering updated information.


Offer additional innovative paid (or not) services, may they be offered by your organization as direct complement of the ticket (seats, bags, lounge, and meals, on board sales…) or by a partner (cars, hotels, translation support at the airport, limousine, bag transfers…)

In practice: each ancillary is a project of its own where delivery is the main outcome. NDC will “just” facilitate and increase distribution, hence ease the business case by boosting the revenue.

Starting point: List your current ancillaries, see whether you meet limitations when distributing them, and which ones.


Adjust your offer depending who is requesting, to make sure it fits the needs of the requestor at best. Personalization is the word of the year!  With a double goal: better sales, of course, but also higher customer satisfaction.

Whenever in contact with the airline, whatever the channel used for the request, the customer should be recognized with high accuracy and served accordingly.

In practice: the knowledge of the customer is mandatory, as detailed and real time as can be. And a customer needs to be identified as quickly as possible.

Starting point: check your CRM and customer data capabilities, starting with loyalty, but not only.

Then, see what is your situation today, and if you can limit your focus.


Your current distribution will be key when moving forward: a “distribution state analysis” will help you build your project plan, and measure how dependent you will be on partners such as travel agents. If new features (personalization, rich content) are not yet available on your website, this could be a good starting point.

2 major fields are to be explored:

  • Distribution strategy and results: shares of markets, of distribution channels (Direct sales-web, call center, mobile, tablets-/Indirect -travel agents/TMCs-), on/offline.
  • Digital policy: do you offer the same product on your website as in your call centers, as by Travel Agents? Are differences motivated by strategy or do they reflect technology limitations?


Your product is not sold everywhere, and won’t interest everyone. On the other hand, you might consider that some markets, or some customers won’t bring you enough revenue. So you might want to only focus on most relevant targets. You might not want to lose time building tailor-made offers for customers that you can’t/don’t plan to serve.

In practice: build a general plan: which market, which customer, which product, at which level (affinity or precise requests only?). Potentially use this analysis to parameter one of the newest features of NDC : Airline Profile.

Starting point: define your focus based on your existing characteristics: geography, network, markets, and set your priorities in that focus.

Now you know what you have to sell (and what you can not sell it in today legacy world) and where you want to sell it.

Time to shift to next step and wonder about current processes : how they should be adapted to fit this new world. Our focus in our next article. Stay tuned!

About the Author :

26-001Hélène Millet joined Conztanz in November 2013, soon after the company was founded, as part of the initial team (so called “Pioneers”).

At that time, she had gained 20 years’ experience in the airline business in the AFKL Group, mainly in RM, Sales and Distribution departments.

She has participated to NDC DDX, since the start in June 2012, first as AFKL’s representative and then as Conztanz’.

Please do not hesitate to contact her if any question or comment.


Very nice info however got few question in mind!! How the NDC workflow would connect to the current fare distribution pattern, i.e. currently fares products are distributed through ATPCO or from other Filing Platform to GDS, OTAs, Websites for sale, having NDC as a new tool would run parallel to the current setup Or the idea of personalization is limited to the frequent flyers? Moreover is it not challenging to list product info on other travel websites like Expedia, Travel guru, clear trip & GDS’s except the airlines host systems? What is the plan to ensure presence on all the systems to boost fare + ancillary sale.

    Hélène Millet

    Hi Vishal, sorry for my late reply.
    In fact NDC is not a new tool, looks more like a new language for exchange between systems. So it is not really something “running in parallel” : if you still want to use your fares as filed in ATPCO or anywhere else, it works too. As far as personalization is concerned, the scope of customers you will build personalized offers for will depend on you and your actual knowledge of your customers : might indeed be limited to frequent flyers… or not.
    You are mentionning your goal “to ensure presence” on all systems : in fact the way the “aggregators” will show the offer you provide will be depending on bilateral aggreements you will have with them, not very different from today. The big difference is that YOU will be the one building the offer.
    Well, I hope i answered at least part of your questions, thank for asking!

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