EXCLUSIVE: Simply Not Enough


A transactional relationship between airline and passenger that starts with a reservation and ends with baggage pick-up at flight’s end is “simply not enough,” according to IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.

That’s why legacy airlines must aim for long-term relationships with their customers in order to evolve from commodity travel providers into bespoke travel partners, he told the recent World Travel Symposium in Dubai.

Getting there will involve a combination of marketing expertise, advanced communication technology and big data analysis, said de Juniac, who added, “Getting it right creates a profound knowledge of our customers and, by using that, we can grow the business by stimulating demand.”

One of the keys to getting right will be the New Distribution Capability (NDC) which the former Air France chief exec said will “play a transformational role in evolving the customer experience.”

He explained, “We will know our customers long before the first click in the reservation process and, when they are ready to book – by themselves or through travel agents – NDC will enable airlines to offer them better value with options to personalize their journeys around their needs.”

De Juniac conceded that, while this might be “revolutionary” for much of the airline industry it’s merely a catch-up play with the standard practices employed by almost every other company doing business over the Internet.

But the good news is that IATA members are moving fast, with 26 airlines implementing at least a part of the NDC standards he noted, predicting “as the benefits become even more apparent to all players in the value chain and their customers, the speed of implementation will accelerate.”

To read Montreal Editor, Mike Dunbar’s story check out Canadian Travel Press’ 2017 Industry Forecast Issue by clicking here.