BCD Travel called for "partnership and collaboration," not "forcing solutions that aren't completely ready" when it comes to the distribution of New Distribution Capability content, in an open letter the travel management company released Monday.
The letter does not mention American Airlines by name, but implies the carrier is the target of its message, especially as it notes that while BCD is confident in its readiness, "no one can offer a seamless customer solution by April 1."
The phrase echoes a memo CWT sent to its clients earlier this month, as reported by BTN portfolio mate The Beat.
American in December announced it would require travel agencies and online booking tools to connect to the carrier's NDC-based connections by April 1 or else lose access to up to 40 percent of fares available today via third-party legacy channels. Many TMCs and OBTs have been scrambling to prepare for that switch, but there are many shades of being "NDC-ready."
Further, some booking tools have warned they may not be set to offer full American content by the carrier's April deadline.
The BCD letter added that this situation "puts customers at risk and harms the ecosystem." It also noted that BCD clients want to avoid disruptions and costs that don't bring additional value, as well as "support for their savings, safety and satisfaction strategies," and choices that "empower, not limit," citing third-party aggregators as a work-around that "come at a higher cost" and "result in servicing gaps, lost agent productivity and data limitations."
"Unilaterally driven changes will drive further disruption as other partners in the ecosystem seek to compensate for poorly planned changes," BCD quoted Mark Stansbury, manager of global travel and events and logistics services for Lockheed Martin Corp., in the letter. "The changes will entail additional costs to the end user—with no known substantive value to compensate."
BCD also noted that "NDC is on a promising trajectory," but that the business travel ecosystem partners need "to continue collaborating to deliver innovation that maximizes value and minimizes needless disruption."
American to Add NDC Service Desk
Meanwhile, American has created a service desk for travel agents related to NDC transactions and will not charge a fee to access it, the company confirmed. The Company Dime first reported the story.
"We have invested in building robust post-ticketing servicing capabilities in our modern retailing technology for agents to service these transactions," American wrote in a statement to BTN. "We, of course, maintain an industry leading sales support team to assist agents, and these team members have received modern retailing training as we would do with any update to our products and services we introduce into the market. We do not charge a fee to access our sales support team."
American, however, indicated it expects travel agencies to provide servicing to customers who purchase tickets through indirect channels.
The carrier did not provide further details, including whether that desk was currently operational and how many people would staff it.