New Distribution Capability (NDC), the platform launched by IATA has helped the aviation industry revamp the entire distribution process.
However, airlines and OTAs need to offer customers a completely seamless experience throughout the journey from point A to point B which involves multiple modes of transportation.
This demands a convergence, that includes a migration from legacy PSS (Passenger Service Systems) to the industry support NDC platform, apart from API integration and ground travel services.
This is the new age of travel, where the traveler expects OTAs and airlines to offer a frictionless journey, including airport transfers. The integration of airport transfers and shuttles with NDC is certainly easier than the outmoded PSS systems.
The standardization of data transmission through the XML framework has made it possible for third-party stakeholders to easily integrate services and solutions to deliver superior experiences to passengers.
NDC has enabled end to end distribution processes with a common platform, helping various third parties to come together in delivering solutions.
Travel intermediaries of ground transportation are key to the end to end distribution process
Three different components constitute the ground transfer dimension of air travel – bus charter booking system, shuttles, luxury vehicles, tube/train connectivity.
It is the travel intermediaries who play an important role in stitching together a seamless experience for passengers. End users look for services that take care of all legs of the journey, and the GDS helped various stakeholders bring together services in a searchable format that permitted the end user to search for and choose a package that comprised various components through a single payment.
This has now migrated to the NDC platform offering greater convenience in terms of a standard format that lends greater clarity and reduces confusion.
Technology providers of travel solutions integrate various aspects of the GDS into the website of the travel agency.
This offers real-time access to all the services, meeting requirements of travelers. The integration of third-party services is typically through API integration and plug-ins.
The API integration is by far the most user-friendly and detailed option. Travelers searching for a service remain on the site and are not redirected to the actual service provider.
Payment gateway is on site and the website collects payments on behalf of other service providers who offer products and services that fulfill the needs of the traveler.
While it is true that API integration demands considerable effort in terms of development, it has the results to show for the effort.
Form the customization options to the full range of services, API integration offers all stakeholders a better opportunity to offer services to travelers.
The ability to search with greater flexibility and avail services makes this one of the best integration models available for air travel and ground transfer services.
Intuitive and user-friendly interface
One of the biggest advantages of API integration is the intuitive use of booking history to help travelers proceed with ground transfer requests.
This dispenses with the need for repeated entry of details, permitting the traveler to make a quick search and booking.
The high level of interaction that is possible with API integration makes this a better experience.
Passengers who have used website with API integration may find the experience of other options inflexible and challenging.
This also offers websites greater control over markups, while offering greater visibility through real-time monitoring.
The ability to integrate global services helps expand the network and offer comprehensive, end to end solutions to travelers. Another advantage is the ability to flexibly integrate solutions, and boost direct sales.
The right choice of technology and solution provider facilitates swift set up and integration which offers fast and error-free functionalities on the platform.
Curated offerings through plugins add value to the traveler’s experience
Curated offerings of ground transport through plugin integration helps to add value to the traveler’s experience and this is not just an incremental addition, but an across the board improvement in user experience.
Plug in integration is achieved through widgets that help passengers search for and receive information about services.
This is a relatively easier option to include on a website and does not require any additional development effort.
Customization options are available with plugins, though limited and not as detailed as API integration. However, the downside is that plugin integration is more informational in nature and does not offer end users the options of making the actual booking. This serves more as an information board, the basis of which travelers can make the choice and make the bookings from the links to the external sites. The arrangements between the sites are worked out prior to the placement of the widgets.
However, this is a lot, unlike the API integration where the website becomes a single source for all the actions, offering the end user a simple and unified interface for all requirements.
Affiliate programs for white label services help improve overall offerings
Affiliate programs are another great way of offering end to end solutions to travelers. A wide network of affiliates offers custom solutions to end users without a separate brand identity. This helps websites and service providers to push their brand and grow in stature.
Affiliates offering white label services are in programs for the revenues and the arrangement works, as the website is focused on growing through the strength of affiliate partners.
This permits the websites and service providers to focus operational capabilities on other aspects while the actual service providers execute the requirements. For the website, this is more of a hosting requirement, where the affiliates are hosted on the website.
The technology is relatively easy to deploy and takes care of all aspects. This is a lot different from plugin integration as the services are offered under the brand name of the service provider hosting the affiliates.
The finer aspects of the affiliate programs – the calculations, margins, ratings, and disputes are internal arrangements between the two entities. Travelers get to see the service as a single platform/service provider and transact on the host site for all requirements.