American Airlines declared four months ago that it would shift around 40% of its content to "modern retailing channels," also known as New Distribution Capability (NDC) channels or direct connections. This shift is expected to have a significant impact on the travel industry, and many travel management companies (TMCs) are finding it difficult to adapt to these changes. Meanwhile, Navan customers had uninterrupted access to American Airlines' NDC content on day one.
The challenges other TMCs are facing are another illustration of a slow-paced industry that doesn't embrace change quickly enough. Continue reading to understand how Navan ensured a smooth transition for its customers and why companies who use the all-in-one platform are well positioned to navigate future changes.
New Distribution Capability Defined
New Distribution Capability (NDC) is a travel industry standard that aims to enhance communication and data exchange between airlines and airfare sellers, allowing for more personalized and dynamic airfare and ancillary service offerings.
Behind the scenes, the Navan team has been hard at work to ensure that AA NDC content has been made available to all our customers without compromising on traveler experience, program savings, or servicing and support.
In the past four months, Navan also rebranded from TripActions to Navan; launched a unified mobile app to manage travel and expenses; scaled Lufthansa Group (LHG) NDC capabilities across EMEA; and launched Singapore Airlines, Finnair, and British Airways NDC in the U.K. (and soon globally).
And yet, in that timeframe, almost no other travel management company (TMC) has been able to prepare for American Airlines’ transition. Once again, legacy TMCs' inability to prioritize innovation leaves travelers scrambling for options. Once again, customers are being asked to call carriers to complain, even though they are paying TMCs a premium to ensure access to this content. And once again, travel managers have yet another concession to make, faced with options that seemingly all have negative consequences.
American Airlines’ NDC-first policy has left many businesses concerned about their inability to access this inventory through their separate Online Booking Tool (OBT) and TMC providers.
If this change impacts your business and you’re not a Navan customer, we’re here to help. We’re offering free access to Navan to all affected parties — no strings attached — while your providers (hopefully) resolve the issue.
Navan’s NDC direct connect with American Airlines has been optimized to provide the same self-service capabilities users expect from GDS content: shop, book, exchange, cancel, and more — all online in real time.
Any U.S.-based company can now sign up for Navan and access all of our content for an unlimited number of travelers for two months. In less than 30 minutes, your business can be up and running with policies, users, and payment methods all set up and ready to go. Sign up here. It’s on us.
“At the core of Navan's mission is the belief that having access to the right content is crucial for creating those in-person connections people value, whether that involves transit like a train or flight, or securing a rental car or hotel at the destination,” said Dane Molter, Navan’s VP of Core Business Travel.
Navan's user-forward approach to travel inventory combines multiple feeds of content to provide the best experience for travelers. Without exhaustive, complete content, a travel program will not be successful. Without great content, there is no traveler satisfaction, there is no adoption, there is no visibility, and there are no cost savings.
Below are three ways that make Navan’s approach to content unique.
It is not the job of carriers or hotels to connect to a TMC’s marketplace. It is the job of the TMC to connect to carriers, hotels, rail providers, and more. Here are some examples of what we’ve delivered over the past year:
There is no scalability without automation unless it’s at the expense of the traveler. Also, it’s 2023. AI has passed the bar exam. There’s no reason travelers should call an agent to change or cancel a booking. Unless a TMC purposely deprioritizes investing in automation because it sees support as a high-margin revenue generator. But then, whose interests are they serving? We certainly don’t think spending hours on the phone for a simple flight change is a good use of employee time.
Innovation in silos only serves marketing, not customers. Content should be sourced and optimized to be accessible from any location or point of sale. Whether it’s rail carriers, NDCs, or even low-cost carriers, all travelers should be able to book the content they need regardless of location.
This event is another example of the downsides of using multiple white-labeled solutions stacked together instead of a vertically integrated, all-in-one platform to manage travel and expense (T&E).
If your company uses a separate OBT and TMC, it exposes itself to risk because neither provider controls the other’s products and services. So the company might be unable to access inventory through an OBT because its TMC partner lacks the right focus on tech-driven solutions and can’t deliver NDC content.
That’s why we built Navan the way that we did. Each of our T&E platform components is homegrown from the ground up — and that's why many of the world’s most renowned companies rely on us to manage their global end-to-end T&E programs.
Want to continue your access to American Airlines’ NDC content? Any U.S.-based company can now sign up for Navan and access all of our content for an unlimited number of travelers for two months. Get up and running with policies, users, and payment methods in less than 30 minutes.