BCD Travel has signed an agreement with Qantas Airways to participate in its Qantas Channel which officially comes into place from 01-Aug-2019 as part of the Australian carrier’s broader digital strategy to enhance its booking systems. The agreement applies to all individual global distribution system bookings, and BCD now is finalising required agreements with individual GDSs.
The Qantas Channel provides travel agents who sign up for it with access to a wider range of fares and content sourced directly from the Qantas Distribution Platform and which is not currently available via traditional indirect booking systems.
The airline intends to use the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) new distribution capability (NDC) to connect to GDSs and online booking tools. It has partnered with the largest GDSs and the majority of its key agency partners have already agreed to participate in the Qantas Channel globally including Flight Centre, Helloworld, Corporate Travel Management, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, ATPI Voyager, CT Connections, Expedia Group, Egencia, Webjet, Consolidated Travel Group, Virtuoso and Express Travel Group.
Under a multi-year deal, BCD will work with Qantas and participating GDSs to leverage the Qantas Distribution Platform to improve the travel experience for mutual clients and travellers. One of the benefits of participating in the Qantas Channel is that it will let BCD clients book reservations on Qantas and partner flights without paying the airline’s new channel booking fee. This is planned to come into effect when the Qantas Channel goes live and will be imposed on all bookings made outside the new channel.
“We’re committed to ensuring that companies retain the ability to shop from among multiple competing offers between like city pairs—and can capture essential data needed to keep travellers safe on the road,” says Rose Stratford, executive vice president of global supplier relations and strategic sourcing at BCD Travel.
BCD’s deal with Qantas is the latest agreement to ensure its clients the broadest possible access to content. BCD previously struck channel booking deals with Air France-KLM and IAG carriers British Airways and Iberia. It has also signed NDC agreements with Lufthansa Group, the Amadeus NDC-X programme, Sabre Beyond NDC and Travelport’s NDC programme.
NDC is a set of new technical communication standards for distributing airlines’ fares and services which will give airlines greater flexibility to differentiate and sell their products via third-party intermediaries (like global distribution systems, aggregators and travel management companies) or direct to consumers.
While changes in distribution isn’t a new phenomenon, BCD Travel notes that “there’s no doubt that disruption in travel distribution is accelerating”. It describes NDC as a “content evolution, not a revolution” and believes that industry-wide NDC solutions are best delivered by the GDS companies, albeit identifies some industry participants will continue to choose different distribution strategies.
“NDC holds the promise of greater flexibility in distribution and more customer choice in the future. TMCs can leverage the advantages of NDC by integrating with content aggregators such as global distribution systems more easily,” says BCD Travel in its whitepaper titled, ‘Distribution Disruption and New Distribution Capability (NDC): Untangling the complexity’.