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You all must be wondering about the title of this article. What is the relationship between Customer, Content, and COVID? I recently listened to CNBC, when Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney, announced a major re-organization and the creation of a new distribution division. As part of a direct to consumer strategy, the new division would be responsible for the monetization of all content. The move, which focuses on the Disney+ streaming service, is much like NBCUniversal’s launch of Peacock and Viacom CBS' new streaming service that includes Paramount Picture content. Bob’s interview made me think about the parallels between the entertainment and travel industries.
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Content creation, recommendations, and delivery strategy have made the entertainment industry more customer-centric than ever before. Streaming services revolve around exclusive content, whether it's Hamilton, which added three million additional subscribers to Disney+ in a single weekend, or House of cards, which put Netflix on the map. Airline distribution is no different. Airlines that are leaders in distribution strategy are driving NDC adoption with distinctive offers that use customer-centric (exclusive) content like Fare Families, corporate bundles, and dynamic/continuous pricing (more fare points).

Bob Chapek mentioned how COVID had accelerated the rate at which they made this transition. I believe COVID has also made airlines rethink their product line. In the post-COVID world, there’s no sign of corporate travel coming back to pre-COVID levels anytime soon, with the success of video conferencing set to have a long-term impact on business travel. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he does not expect “we’ll ever get back entirely to where we were in 2019 on the volume of business traffic”.

Manish Nagpal, SVP Product Strategy, Accelya

As a result, leisure travel has become a lifeline for airlines, and airlines have started to pay more attention to this customer segment. For example, most major airlines have announced the abolition of change fees and have begun to develop new products with the leisure traveler firmly in mind. Visionary airlines are doubling down on their NDC strategy, positioning themselves to deliver exclusive customer-centric products for travelers.

Yes, NDC implementation is simpler and more straightforward in the leisure market, with most OTAs and Metas technically capable of consuming and aggregating NDC content. As a matter of fact, now Accelya and Farelogix have come together, we have the largest NDC travel network globally. It encompasses over 300 OTAs/Metas, Aggregators, TMCs and tech providers consuming Accelya/Farelogix NDC content, helping our airline customers shift more than 20% of volume to NDC.

But in my view, this is just the beginning. All airlines should be taking advantage of this changing landscape in the post-COVID world by adopting customer-centric, exclusive content distribution strategies using all the benefits of NDC – control, cost savings, loyalty, and new revenue generation.

Now that Customer, Content & COVID makes sense, stay tuned for Corporate, Content & COVID, where Accelya takes on delivering corporate travel via NDC.

This article is also published on the Farelogix Blog here.