What trends are impacting your corporate travel consulting program? From NDC to Brexit and disruptions, both good and bad, today we will explore a few phenomena that can have an impact on your business travel program.

NDC  and airline distribution

Are the stars finally aligning for New Distribution Capability (NDC), the technology standard launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2012 to improve how airline content is distributed? Well, yes and no.

With more players in the industry working together to pilot NDC-enabled solutions  — including American Express Global Business Travel’s (GBT) own partnership with Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport — it is shaping up to be an important year not only for NDC but airline distribution overall.

But as a white paper that we produced in collaboration with ACTE indicates, travel managers (TM) still have their concerns. While many believe NDC could provide a better shopping experience to travelers, especially for purchasing add-on services, they also fear it will lead to reduced fare transparency and functionality. Until they have a stronger understanding of how NDC may impact their programs, it seems travel managers may stick to the current plan.

Advice for TMs: This is your time to have an influence in the direction airline distribution and merchandising take. We suggest working with other suppliers and your business partner for managed travel to voice what it will take to make NDC valuable to your program and travelers.

Artificial intelligence

From Amazon’s Echo devices entering hotel rooms to robots turning up at airports worldwide, we saw in 2018 how AI-powered technology is transforming the travel experience — and we expect things will progress quickly from here.

As GBT’s Chief Information Technology Officer David Thompson said in a recent interview with Phocuswire, he anticipates that over the next decade there will be “significant innovation between supplier and traveler” that “will allow us to reach a point of true automation.”

He imagines that one day, “a traveler flying from New York to Los Angeles for a meeting will have their flight, hotel, transportation and even dinner reservations automatically booked through AI and mobile technology. All they will have to do is wake up and go, significantly reducing the friction of business travel.”

Thompson also explained that “with access to these data-driven resources, TMCs can learn about a traveler base over time and make decisions and recommendations built around their personal needs.”

To find out how GBT is using AI to enhance travel experiences, click here and here.

Advice for TMs: To satisfy travelers’ evolving habits, it will become necessary to embrace the new technology. Just be sure to carefully vet any new tools and apps employees plan to use for work-related trips. Some companies, especially those in startup mode, may not yet have done their due diligence when it comes to data security.

Brexit

We thought we were coming to the end, but it looks like this tumultuous journey is “to be continued.” Originally, the United Kingdom was set to leave the European Union on March 29, but now it has been granted a second extension until Oct. 31 (although the UK can leave earlier if it ratifies a withdrawal agreement before then).

So once again, we are stuck in a holding pattern, waiting to see how this wild ride might end and how much of an impact, if any at all, Brexit will have on corporate travel programs. In other words, hang tight and stay tuned!

Advice for TMs: We don’t anticipate there will be definitive answers anytime soon. But if you are really keen to read up on the topic, check out this Atlas article on what travel-related changes to expect if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Flight disruptions

Whether due to software issues, weather events or drone incidents, we have seen many flights get canceled and delayed over the past few months.

And we are expecting an escalating number of flight disruptions this year due to extreme weather, including a possible El Niño event that climate scientists warn may contribute to 2019 becoming the hottest year on record. And that, as National Geographic pointed out, could lead to “heat waves, wildfires, droughts, flooding, and violent storms.”

And you know what that means? More flight cancelations and delays.

Advice for TMs: Let us help reduce your travelers’ flight frustrations and ask us about our Proactive Traveler Care™, which uses cutting-edge technology to monitor for disruptions and automatically contacts impacted passengers to help with rebooking assistance.