Latest GBTA poll reveals NDC knowledge gap

Latest GBTA poll reveals NDC knowledge gap

It found desire for clarity and implementation challenges surrounding NDC

As the business travel industry continues to show strong indicators toward reaching a spending forecast of $1.5 trillion USD in 2024, the Global Business Travel Association has released its latest sentiment poll.

It revealed its April 2024 Business Travel Outlook Poll, that provides valuable perspectives from across the industry.

With responses of over 800 business travel buyers, suppliers and other business travel professionals across 41 countries, this 34th installment of GBTA’s ongoing survey series reveals the current state of the profession, including gauging the latest sentiment on the implementation of the New Distribution Capability (NDC).

Travel buyers remain at the helm of key decision-making for their organization, especially in travel management company (TMC) relationships, hotel and air sourcing. 

When it comes to navigating NDC, many business travel professionals continue to voice challenges in education, information, clarity and rollout details.

GBTA's survey paints a picture of an engaged workforce in the business travel industry. Professionals are focused on core duties, and there's a healthy sense of optimism about career expectations and opportunity in the year ahead. We are also benefiting from those new to the industry – with almost 20% of supplier professionals and 10% of buyer professionals coming to business travel from outside industries," said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA. 

“The findings also underscore the importance of continuous learning and collaboration, particularly when managing change like the potential impact of NDC on travel programmes.”

When asked about various functions and their travel programme’s role, travel buyers are most likely to be the lead decision makers for overseeing their organisation’s travel management company (TMC) relationship (67%), hotel sourcing (55%) and air sourcing (54%). 

An average of 18% of their time is spent on meetings and events duties by those respondents (66%) who have those responsibilities as part of their role.

Travel buyer responses reflect that the needle hasn’t moved much over the past six months in key NDC areas such education, clarity and speed of implementation, with results only deviating a few percentage points versus results from GBTA’s October 2023 poll

In the April poll, most buyers acknowledge a continued need for information and education about NDC (71%; same as in the October poll). 

A significant portion (45%) are still unsure if their travel management company (TMC) is fully prepared (similar to 46% in October).

While nearly half (42%; compared to 45% in the October poll) of buyers feel airlines are rushing NDC implementation, a third (37%; versus 36% in the October poll) believe intermediaries should be ready to service NDC bookings. 

It found that this sentiment diverges geographically. North American buyers (49%) are more concerned about airlines' pace compared to Europeans (29%). 

Europeans (52%) are more likely to believe intermediaries should adapt faster than North Americans (30%).

Half (51%) of buyers say they have not started to implement NDC (versus 50% in the October 2023 poll). Only one in ten (10%; same as October poll) report their programme has implemented it with few (if any) problems while one-quarter (23%; 22% in October poll) say they have started to implement NDC but have had some problems doing so.

Adding another layer of complexity, 60% of buyers haven't budgeted for potential additional servicing costs associated with NDC bookings and have no plans to do so. Only 5% have allocated a budget for these potential costs.

The survey also sheds light on supplier experiences. While 38% report a smooth or mostly smooth rollout of NDC content distribution, a significant portion (36%) encountered challenges. This suggests airlines may need to streamline their NDC content delivery processes.