A majority of buyers said airlines are moving too quickly in their push for New Distribution Capability content, though a smaller percentage said they’ve seen a negative impact from initiatives similar to American Airlines’ move this month to limit certain content to NDC channels, according to a Global Business Travel Association poll of 803 travel professionals conducted earlier this month.
The poll—fielded from April 10-21 and with about half of total respondents identifying as travel mangers or buyers or procurement or sourcing professionals—showed 60 percent of buyers surveyed said they did not support American’s efforts to expedite NDC. Fifty-three percent of buyers in the survey said they think airlines are moving too fast and have not given third-party intermediaries sufficient time to develop necessary technology and processes, though the sentiment was more prevalent among North American buyers than European buyers. Overall, 29 percent of buyers said that intermediaries have had sufficient time to prepare and should be ready to handle and service NDC bookings.
American’s effort was more popular among travel supplier and travel management company respondents, together consisting of about 40 percent of respondents, with only 36 percent saying they did not support it.
In terms of impact, sentiment among buyers was more divided. Thirty-six percent said their program has been negatively affected by moves to integrate NDC similar to American Airlines’, and 29 percent said they have seen no impact. Only 6 percent said they have seen a positive impact, and the remaining 28 percent said they were not sure.
More than 80 percent of buyers said they still need more education about NDC and airline retailing and distribution, and about half said their TMC doesn’t have sufficient information on NDC and isn’t sharing such plans as potential migration.
Bookings Recovery Continues
On the broader topic of business travel, buyers in the survey on average said that domestic business travel bookings are at about 72 percent of 2019 levels. About 43 percent indicated bookings are above 80 percent or even beyond 2019 bookings. For international bookings, buyers said they have rebounded on average to 63 percent of 2019 levels, with 28 percent indicating they currently are above 80 percent of 2019 levels.
Both are an improvement from GBTA’s January survey, which showed domestic bookings averaging 67 percent of 2019 levels and international bookings averaging 54 percent.
Delayed and canceled flights rank as the most common complaint among business travelers at the moment, according to the survey. Seventy-six percent of buyers said delayed flights are a frequently heard complaint from their employees, and 72 percent said the same about canceled flights. Long phone wait times also remain common, with 62 percent of buyers saying it’s a frequently heard complaint about their TMC and 52 percent saying it’s a complaint about their travel suppliers.