Innovating beyond the NDC standard to achieve intelligent retailing

Airlines are laser focused on becoming better retailers. They aim to provide contextually relevant and personalized offers for customers, as well as optimize their product distribution across all channels. This evolution is driven by the growing importance of ancillary revenue, evolving shopping behaviors and emerging technologies.

To achieve this personalization, a traveler-centric, retailing ecosystem is key. Airlines need solutions powered by data that ensure smart offers and seamless execution. Technology modernization is another key enabler, with airlines seeking plug-and-play capabilities that provide faster time to market and brand differentiation across all channels.

The market is ready, standards are mature and airlines have clearer retailing strategies. The time to think about the next generation of retailing, distribution and fulfillment, including IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), is now.

Beyond NDC

NDC is an IATA-defined, data transmission standard that allows for enhanced communication between buyers and sellers of air travel and ancillaries. It offers substantial opportunities for stakeholders across the travel ecosystem, such as product differentiation, time to market and shopping transparency.

The technology of tomorrow doesn’t stop at just NDC. Digitally mature airlines should not only embrace NDC messaging standards, but will need to think beyond NDC with initiatives that allow them to intelligently optimize their products, fulfill personalized offers across the customer journey and own products and services distributed across all channels.

To reach this vision of personalized offers, an evolution must occur: from a world where airline offers are created from static content, such as filed fares and schedules, to a world where intelligent offers are created based on data and merchandising rules in airlines’ systems. A key component of this evolution is the availability and utilization of data insights, as well as leveraging artificial-intelligence capabilities. As systems learn which offers are created and accepted, offers will continually become more relevant to the traveler.

A Phased Approach for Airlines

This evolution to personalized retailing will not be achieved overnight. Best practice is to take a phased approach to solution adoption, ultimately resulting in NDC-enabled offer- and order-management platforms. There are six key phases recommended to enable personalized retailing:

  • Strengthening the core,
  • Market and customer data,
  • Revenue optimization,
  • Omni-channel digital ecosystem,
  • Offer-management system,
  • Order-management system.


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