Director's vlog series: NDC means a million things — but the most important one is change
Airline distribution is continuously changing, but NDC is causing a seismic shift from product development to consumer friendliness, explains Director of NDC, Solutions, and Partnerships, Graham Wareham.
Welcome to the third entry in our director's vlog series, where we interview some of the top people at ATPCO for insights on industry topics we’re all thinking about.
In this interview, Graham Wareham, the Director of NDC, Solutions, and Partnerships, explains how airline distribution has been changing for decades, and the major shift that NDC brings to the industry.
Welcome to ATPCO's director's vlog. Today we have with us Graham Wareham, Director of NDC solutions and partnerships. Graham has more than 20 years of experience in the airline industry including more than four years with ATPCO.
Tell us about your background and your experience.
Sure. So I started my aviation career in construction. Which is kind of humorous, I think. But, when I got out of university, I started a small construction company which didn't really go very well. So I got a job working for a simulation company, aviation simulation company, for a few years.
I did my graduate studies at night and then I eventually ended up at Air Canada. Had a number of positions at Air Canada and which led me eventually to distribution. I did a lot of years, seven to eight, ten years, ten years as Senior Director Distribution, and Consumer Direct and then ultimately made my way to ATPCO.
What are the unique challenges that airline distribution is facing today?
Well, I think as long as you say today is more than one day, the distribution environment has been changing probably since 2006. It's, it's not moving at record pace, that's for sure, but you know with the advent of even the Internet, airline distribution started changing with websites, and then ultimately direct (being APIs), airlines started exploring new ways of retailing, new ways of looking at their product and how they interact with their customers.
I think that transition to the airline distribution world is just continuous. But with NDC and, and the standards, and all the work that is being done there, things have really changed and the focus has shifted really from, I would say, product development to customer or consumer friendliness.
What do you see as ATPCO's role in airline distribution?
So we serve a couple of roles. I think, you know, traditionally ATPCO has been known as a fare and data company supplying all kinds of all the underlying data required to do pricing. We've, we've done a lot of derivatives of that over the years. We're a 50-year-old company. We've, I think we've advanced automation of that data and automation of pricing and airline, you know, airline retailing, as it were. So I think our role has really been around adding or enriching the distribution environment with capabilities that help airlines do what they want to do.
You mentioned NDC. I've heard, you know, NDC content about the industry. Could you just tell us more about that?
Sure. NDC is a lot of things. It's kind of, you know, it's become one of those things that has a million meanings, but NDC at its root is a standard for communicating.
But what it enables is carriers to have a different relationship with their buyers, whether those buyers are travel agencies or consumers they have a richer, an ability to have a richer conversation. An ability to customize offers.
So ATPCO's role in that is mainly around our product with NDC Exchange, which is, really supports connectivity and enables carriers and sellers to get together in an easy fashion, as well as our Routehappy data, which enriches the messaging and shows customers what it is you're buying, giving them the chance to differentiate their product and consumers to have more information on what they're buying.
You mentioned NDC connection, you know, are you referring to APIs? Are you referring to, you know, data? Test data? Is it real data? Maybe talk a little bit about that.
Yeah, sure. NDC as itself is really just an API that conforms to the NDC standard. So it's just a way of making sure that airlines that are communicating, more sellers can integrate to them easier, like, all communicating in the same fashion.
Great, sounds like, kind of like a little hub or something like that.
Well, the Exchange is a hub. We figure there's about 30 different, 30 or 40 different versions of APIs, out there. The Exchange actually normalizes everything so no matter what you're talking in, you connect to the Exchange and it enables you to connect to anybody in a very easy simple fashion. That's what ATPCO brings to the party.
Wow. So before we wrap, just, you know, I just heard this fun fact, that, you know, people who travel are 60% more creative. And I know you travel all the time, so we're all interested in knowing, really, you know, what do you do on the plane that, like, keeps you creative or that maybe speaks to that stat.
You know, when you're in the business environment, you're, you're always on the go, and you're always moving from room to room and you really have no time to stop and smell the roses, as it were. I think you're always dealing with, we have a very broad pace of opportunities or problems, so you're moving from one problem the next. What, what downtime on an airplane allows me to do personally is, it's just disengage. Think about things a little bit deeper than I would normally, and then as I said, tap about at emails, unfortunately.
Well, thank you so much for your time today. I definitely learned a lot. I hope you did too. Thanks, and visit us again.
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