American has launched a pilot program to test the
functionality of selling corporate bundles via connections supported by New
Distribution Capability (NDC).
"We believe this is an industry-first step to combine
multiple products into one seamless corporate customer experience through NDC,"
the airline said.
NDC is a set of XML standards developed by IATA to enable
the sale of airline ancillary products through intermediaries.
American introduced the corporate bundle trial within the
past two weeks, director of distribution strategy Neil Geurin said in an
interview. The airline's agency partners for the launch are Amtrav, Brazil's
Copastur and Mexico's Marplay. Sales are made via NDC direct connects between
American and the agencies' corporate booking tool.
For the trial, the bundles include a preferred seat, ticket
changeability and an extra bag. The focus of the trial is to test the
functionality of product displays, fulfillment and settlement, as well as
whether the agencies can service the sales on the back end. American is not
testing pricing models yet.
The airline's long-term vision is to sell bundles via
NDC-supported connections with both corporate and leisure agencies, Geurin
said, though agencies with corporate programs are the first focus.
"We'll watch it over the course of the next three to
six months and expand afterwards if it works," Geurin said.
American is one of 21 airlines that have signed up for the
IATA NDC Leaderboard initiative, saying they aspire to have NDC solutions power
at least 20% of their travel agency sales by the end of 2020. Currently, said
Geurin, the carrier's percentage of NDC-supported indirect sales is in single
"We will get to 20%," he said. "I don't know
if we'll get to 20% by the end of 2020. I think that hugely depends on the
progress the GDSs make on their NDC implementation in the next year."