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European buyers more relaxed about pace of NDC rollout



European travel buyers are less worried that airlines are rushing the implementation of NDC distribution than their counterparts in North America, according to a new survey of corporate travel professionals by the GBTA.

The global poll of more than 800 buyers, suppliers and other workers in the industry found that 49 per cent of North America-based buyers were concerned about the current pace of NDC development by airlines. But this figure dropped to just 29 per cent for those buyers based in Europe.

Meanwhile 52 per cent of European buyers thought that intermediaries, including TMCs and online booking tools, should be ready to service NDC-enabled bookings. Whereas only 30 per cent of North American buyers thought that third parties should be prepared for NDC.

The GBTA’s latest survey also showed that the “needle hasn’t moved much” on key NDC issues such as education, clarity and speed of implementation since its previous poll was conducted in October 2023.

Most buyers around the world (71 per cent) say there is still a need for information and education about NDC, which was the same figure as in October. Similarly, 45 per cent are still unsure if their TMC is fully prepared to service NDC content. 

Other findings also point to a lack of movement on NDC in the past six months, with half of buyers still saying they have yet to start implementing NDC within their programmes. Some 60 per cent of buyers have not budgeted for any potential extra servicing costs associated with NDC bookings and have no plans to do so.

There was also a mixed picture among suppliers on the rollout of NDC content with 38 per cent saying this process has gone smoothly but a similar number (36 per cent) have encountered challenges.

The poll found that most buyers are the lead decision makers on their organisation’s TMC, as well as for sourcing air and hotel content. Around two-thirds of buyers also have responsibility for meetings and events, which takes up an average of 18 per cent of their working time.

Most respondents (85 per cent) said they either “love” or “like” working in corporate travel, although suppliers (37 per cent) were more likely to say they love it than buyers (28 per cent).

Other findings show that most business travel professionals (86 per cent) have seen an increase in base salary this year with 16 per cent receiving a pay bump of more than 5 per cent. Most buyers (83 per cent) have already received or expect a bonus in 2024 on top of their salary.

The majority of business travel professionals also seem satisfied with their work-life balance with 80 per cent saying this is either “great” or “decent”, and only 17 per cent wanting improvement in this area.

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