Direct connect is big, big news in the business travel industry, but when you strip away the industry press coverage and bigwig comments, what does this new form of content distribution actually mean for procurement departments?
Very simply put, the implementation of direct connect solutions between major air and hotel suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) who have invested in their direct connect technology means that those suppliers can respond directly to shopping requests from travel agents and sell their fares directly to consumers. In turn, this means that selected TMCs have access to exclusive content from those suppliers, in the form of packages and services that are not currently available in the GDS.
Direct connect solutions also allow travel buyers to bypass the booking fees that airlines such as Lufthansa or British Airways have recently applied to all bookings made through the GDS, creating a clear opportunity for saving.
As a procurement professional you’ll be aware that one of the most challenging aspects of finding the right travel supplier is procuring for the future – finding a TMC who will not only meet your current requirements, but also the requirements of your organisation as it grows and changes over time.
It’s fair to assume that TMC’s who have invested time and effort into updating their technology to allow for direct connects to major suppliers are looking to the future also and so a TMC’s approach to these new distribution changes can be a real indicator of how agile and innovative they can be when it comes to their clients’ business travel.
So, what practical steps can you take as a procurement department to ensure that you’re fully informed of prospective TMCs’ plans for direct connect and what this can bring to your travel programme?
We’ve enlisted the help of our award-winning bids team to provide you with 7 questions that can be added to your RFP template in order to shed some light on potential travel suppliers’ plans for direct connect…
1. What is your understanding of direct connect and New Distribution Capability (NDC) and their effect on the customer/TMC relationship?
This will be an outline of your TMC’s overall approach to the distribution changes within the business travel industry. Do they believe in these changes and see them as worthy of investment? Or are they dismissive of these new changes?
2. What current capabilities do you have in place to connect directly with airlines to avoid GDS fees and other fees associated with not booking directly with an airline?
This will give TMCs the opportunity to explain what plans they have to implement direct connect technology, if at all, and also whether they are able to bypass the charges levied against GDS bookings.
3. Please provide details of your company’s investment into innovation e.g. accessing NDC and implementing direct connects with major suppliers?
This will be a TMC’s overall approach to innovation and their chance to prove that they are forward-thinking, specifically within the context of major industry changes.
4. Do you offer direct connects and if so, please explain the benefits this could bring to us, for example cost savings, additional content etc?
This provides TMCs with direct connect capability the chance to persuade you of the benefits and highlight how direct connect can improve your organisation’s business travel.
5. Briefly outline your company plans to address NDC
This will show understanding of the difference between direct connect and NDC, and how the two interact. It will also shed some light on the TMC’s relationship with major airlines.
6. Are direct connects and other content via the GDS displayed together in order to provide a comparison shopping experience?
A key benefit of direct connect should be transparent, seamless comparison shopping with GDS content, offering buyers more choice; so here a TMC can explain how they plan to address this.
7. Are you still able to provide reporting, duty of care and integrated billing with direct connects?
Some business travel industry professionals are concerned that direct connect could compromise TMCs’ ability to offer services that are important in creating a coherent travel programme. This should not be the case for innovative TMCs and here a TMC can address these concerns.
If you have got further questions about direct connect and NDC, and how they can affect your travel programme, then get in touch by tweeting your questions to us @ClickTravel using #DirectConnectNDC or directly at clicktravel.com/contact-me