Rollout of NDC is not ‘a big bang’ change, it is ‘incremental’, but Qantas aims to be at the heart of it

At the start of Aug-2019, Qantas Group formally launched the ‘Qantas Channel’ New Distribution Capability (NDC) distribution platform, modernising the way agencies book fares and deliver personalised experiences to customers.

Agencies who have signed up to the exclusive channel will, over time, be able to offer customers new content, sourced from the NDC-enabled Qantas Distribution Platform (QDP), which is not currently available via traditional indirect booking systems.

Under the process non registered agencies may incur an additional fee per booking and in addition will no longer being able to access a wide range of traditional fares made available via indirect channels or having access to the new content via the QDP as it becomes available.

Qantas has reached agreement with all of the major Global Distribution Systems to make the Qantas Channel available to agencies globally and continues to work with other technology partners to deliver the Qantas Channel and QDP content.

The launch of the Qantas Channel is an important milestone in the transformation of Qantas’ distribution strategy. It says it will continue to work closely with agency partners to prepare for the introduction of the new technology, with the benefits of our new distribution platform expected to start flowing through in the coming months.

Qantas says the new channel will deliver “greater reward and recognition” of frequent flyers and the “ability to deliver targeted offers” for its agency partners. “Our vision is to offer our agency partners a bigger toolkit to support our mutual customers,” it says.

Qantas executive manager sales and distribution Igor Kwiatkowski, spoke about the launch on a panel session at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Australia Pacific Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit last week.

He said the rollout of NDC is all about customising the offer for the customer and that “disrupting everything and trying to personalise everything” is counterproductive. He explained that the Qantas goal is for the customers to walk in to a travel agent and for it to be able to customise their offer.

When questioned by Travelport global head of new distribution Ian Heywood if the airline was taking a stick to incentivise the use of its channel instead of a carrot via the surcharge for non registered agencies, Mr Kwiatkowski replied: “The content should be the carrot… if that is not compelling enough…”.

He added that Qantas will not discriminate in terms of “who comes to the Qantas channel” for bookings. “It is a big church,” he said, adding that independent of corporate or leisure purchase, Qantas does not discriminate on who is buying the seat as long as they pay the price of the seat. It’s “an incremental change” not a “big bang”, instant change, according to the executive, that opens up the opportunity for airlines to “do a lot” as previous models have been very limited.

According to Mr Kwiatkowski, consumers need and want a change in the way they interact with the product on display. He added that dynamic pricing is not about “pushing the price up”, that it is about providing a more tailored offer for the consumer. It is about offering the passenger a more individually tailored product. “It’s really not about costs, It’s about getting better at delivering the product”, he said.

Mr Kwiatkowski explained that implementing NDC had an associated cost to Qantas and it is about shifting cost from distribution to NDC. He also stated that Qantas is leveraging its FFP database to deliver the product.