Travel Professionals

IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC)

Message to ASATA Members:

By now most of you would have heard or read about IATA’s development of new industry standards for the transmission of data, that will facilitate product differentiation, increased sales of ancillary products and services and personalized offers, namely NDC (New Distribution Capability)

To date the proposed NDC has been met with great scepticism and concern, particularly by the global travel agent community and GDS companies. It would appear as if the NDC is being developed to not only circumvent the travel agent and GDS in the distribution of airline ticket sales but also to control and limit access to fares, based on client profiling. Of late IATA has gone to great lengths to alleviate these fears and there appears to be a genuine willingness to commit to a consultative process with the Travel Agent community, as they move forward with their plans.

ASATA has engaged IATA in this process, meeting with their Senior Vice President of Industry Distribution and Financial Services during his recent visit to South Africa. We then participated in the PAPGJC and AAF meeting in Madrid, where the matter was once again raised. ASATA joined the newly formed Agents Airline Forum, a global forum with a focus on strategic issues with discussions initiated and led by Global Agent Associations, Airline Associations and IATA on passenger distribution standards and infrastructure.

Following these meetings the WTAAA (World Travel Agents Association Alliance) held its Board of Directors meeting in Sao Paulo. The purpose of WTAAA is to foster and facilitate exchange of information and advice on matters of mutual interest, and provides a forum for the consideration of common strategic visions and synergies

NDC was the key topic of discussion and following the meeting we sent out a letter to IATA in which we raised several key concerns regarding NDC.

Be therefore assured that ASATA is taking every possible action to protect our industry. Effort is being made not only to understand NDC, but to participate in discussions and debates that will allow us to develop a clear opinion of its intentions and proposed outcomes. In due course we will be in a position to put out a clear statement to IATA on whether the Southern African Travel Agent industry will support or oppose the roll out of NDC. We need to be sure that the value proposition being presented by IATA on NDC is mindful and respectful of the distribution channel called Travel Agents, which still delivers over 60% of global airline sales.


Otto de Vries
ASATA: Chief Executive Officer

Meet ASATA’s open door CEO!

Strategic, committed and approachable, ASATA’s new Chief Executive Officer Otto de Vries has his sights firmly set on developing and maintaining the highest level of expertise and professionalism within the industry.

Otto joined the organisation as of 1 January 2013 bringing with him 25 years experience in the travel industry, 17 of these in senior management roles.

A strategic thinker, with experience in managing businesses, start ups, business transformation and projects, Otto’s vision for ASATA is to champion the organisation’s Members as the consumer’s channel of choice when buying travel products and services.

Key to this, he says, is his willingness to listen and take on board the views and opinions of others in an effort find the best possible working solutions to our industry needs.

Otto is known for his strong commercial acumen, having acquired valuable management experience both locally and abroad. While his experience spans from operations and sales and marketing to contract management and product development, Otto’s strengths undoubtedly lie in his people leadership, strategic planning and implementation and change management skills.

Over the next few months Otto will focus on familiarising himself with ASATA’s operations, getting to know the committees and Members throughout the country. Members are thus encouraged to attend regional meetings to meet Otto, hear his vision for ASATA and share their particular views and issues with him.

The future of travel search

Shopping around when it comes to buying travel appears to be the rule of thumb according to a joint Amadeus – PhoCusWright report entitled “Empowering inspiration: the future of travel search”.

Apparently consumers feel like they are making a hasty, potentially regrettable purchase if they don’t shop around. The study looks at how consumers make holiday and travel decisions today and in the future, highlighting that the biggest issue in travel planning remains information overload.

The practice of yield management by travel suppliers has further created “substantial anxiety” about when consumers should book.

Interestingly, many consumers, in fact most in emerging markets, don’t actually have a specific destination in mind when they start their trip planning process. The study says because of this, there’s definitely a need for better roll-ups and condensed snapshots of information such as seasonal temperature/precipitation and price ranges.

Download and read the study here. It’s 45 pages of research but well worth the read…And what’s more it’s free. Thank you Amadeus!

Cutting through the Internet clutter…

Another interesting article about the role travel agents play in helping consumers cut the clutter features this week in the trade press…

This time it’s an Australian retail agency group’s managing director saying consultants must continue to adapt and change the way they interact with their clients if they are to keep up with the “fast changing nature of the travel industry”.

We are repeatedly told that consumers are suffering from an information overload as a result of researching travel online, highlighting the ongoing importance of the role consultants can play in filtering through the masses of content and navigating consumers through it. Consumers, says the article, are becoming “confused” as to what they really want.

Attention to detail, concludes the article, is perhaps even more important now than it has ever been given how many consumers tend to research their destination or activity first and these people are extremely knowledgeable about the ‘big picture’.

What do you think? Are they on the money?