Many large corporations are concerned that travel management companies and online booking tools will not be ready to provide all of American Airlines’ content by April, according to a poll conducted the week of March 13 by travel management consultancy Festive Road.

In December, American told travel agencies and OBTs that they must use New Distribution Capability-based connections to ensure access to all the carrier’s content by April 1. Up to 40 percent of American’s current fares could be pulled from traditional EDIFACT-based connections to global distribution systems at that time. 

TMCs have explored options like content aggregators and direct connects with American, but some booking tools have warned they may not be set to offer full AA content by April 1.

Among the reasons American has stated it is pursuing this distribution shift is to take control of fare offers and eventually to be able to provide custom negotiated bundles that create more value for corporate customers. 

Festive Road characterized its respondents as “25 major travel buyers at the forefront of NDC development.” On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most positive, the buyers’ average rating of long-term NDC value was very positive, at 4.2. For the near-term, however, the results were vastly different.

Just one in 25 believed that their TMC’s agents will have access by April to all of American’s NDC content. Festive Road received the same result when it asked about OBT ability to present all of American’s NDC content. Not one of the travel buyers was confident that any American NDC bookings could be serviced by their TMC or OBT.

“If the big, progressive buyers are having issues, then likely everyone is,” Festive Road managing partner Paul Tilstone said. “We’re going to see a lot of content missing or convoluted processes in the short term to get the traveler what they need. … We are certainly entering a period of forced multi-channel or content challenges and fragmentation which will undermine managed travel unless strategies are in place.”

[email protected] (Donna M. Airoldi)

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