Scottish agents’ association says NDC benefits are ‘outweighed by inefficiencies’

Scottish agents’ association says NDC benefits are ‘outweighed by inefficiencies’

SPAA president Mike Tibbert made the comments at last week’s annual dinner in Glasgow

Travel agents and suppliers are working “closer than ever” and ready for “new ways of doing things”, but the benefits of Iata member airlines’ new distribution capability (NDC) are “outweighed by the inefficiencies”, according to the head of the agents’ association in Scotland.

Mike Tibbert, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA) and Europe general manager at Global Marine Travel, described NDC as “reminiscent of before” global distribution systems (GDSs] existed.

Addressing the SPAA’s annual dinner in Glasgow last week, Tibbert insisted: “We haven’t lived and suffered through the last few years not to have learned to be ready to adapt and to welcome new ways of doing things.

“We’re embracing a new age of travel where agents and suppliers work closer together than ever before. We don’t stand still or rest on our laurels.”

But he said: “NDC is citied as innovation, offering product differentiation, access to rich content and a customised shopping experience based on a customer’s choices.

[Yet] the implementation of NDC lacks any standardisation between a carrier’s portal, the aggregator or [an airline’s] ‘direct connect’.”

He told the SPAA dinner: “In many ways, this is an unravelling of the traditional GDS and reminiscent of before the GDSs existed.

“Some of the GDSs are coming up with blended solutions, [but] this is far from a perfect world. The benefits of offering personalisation to the traveller are outweighed by the inefficiencies.”

He added: “Although we see this drive for NDC being inevitable, many agents prefer the traditional cryptic environment.”

Tibbert told SPAA members and guests: “Travel is well and truly back on the map. Agents and supplier partners have had one of the most-fruitful peak seasons to date. Average selling prices are up. Clients have increased [trip] durations. Luxury and upgrades are on the rise.

“Although the cost-of-living crisis will touch most people in some way, travel remains a priority.”

He argued: “The common denominator in the recent bookings boom is the travel agent.

“Leisure or corporate, homeworking or retail, it’s evident customers continue to demand an expert agent to shape their travel plans.”