June 10, 2023

ITM sets up taskforce to help buyers ‘feeling battered’ by NDC ‘mess’

Travel managers are “feeling battered” by the challenges of airline retailing changes and the impact on managed travel programmes, the Institute of Travel Management (ITM) has revealed.

The severity of concerns has led ITM to set up an Airfare Distribution Taskforce to raise awareness of the ‘gaps’ that must be addressed to support managed corporate travel programmes and support members navigate this period of change, both internally and externally.

Announcing the move today, the deadline set by American Airlines, ITM stressed that its aims are “not based on buyer’s resistance to change but the need for transparency around airlines’ motivation, investment roadmaps and partnerships where the buyers voice is truly being heard”.

It said the objectives of the taskforce are as follows:

–        Specific to managed business travel, define the customer, the intricacies and value of the managed programme and what buyers need from airlines.

–        Determine the principles of a minimum viable product (MVP) for air fare distribution to corporates and a unified voice to articulate that position to airlines.

–        Support buyers to articulate the changes and potential impact to stakeholders across their business

–        Arm buyer members with the information and clarity to ask the right questions of their suppliers in order to jointly find a mutually beneficial path forward.

The taskforce of seven ITM buyer members will also publish a guide that will support buyer members’ understanding of the changing landscape, what it may mean for them and practical tools, tips and internal statements to manage internal stakeholders. 

The taskforce also aims to provide a summary of non-negotiable aspects of a corporate managed travel programme and raise awareness of why not having all key players in the ecosystem ‘ready’ for NDC is a major challenge.

“NDC, airline distribution and modern retailing are causing our buyer members a major headache with some describing it as a ‘mess’, said Scott Davies, CEO, ITM.

“Some have expressed concern that they will face a deluge of complaints from travellers about fares being visible but not bookable in their OBT. Other buyers expect a potential increase in leakage, whilst others foresee challenges with managing manual process for exceptions to policy.

“The complexity, ‘noise’ and different viewpoints across the industry have become overwhelming for many of our buyer members.

“The corporate customer’s requirements have been distinctly missing from industry discussions to now. The taskforce aims to bring the discussion back to what is important within a given travel manager’s programme, determine what action they need to take, and help buyers find workable solutions.”