American Airlines is rolling out a travel agency incentive program to encourage agents to adopt an NDC connection with the carrier.
American will pay agencies $2 for every AA-marketed segment processed through an NDC connection.
American will use the ARC or IATA credit memo system to facilitate the payment. That’s the same system that airlines use for debit memos, but the money moves in a different direction.
If an agency is using an NDC connection provided by a third-party technology company, such as Travelfusion or a GDS, it can pay the company’s transaction fee out of the $2 and keep the rest.
What is particularly notable about the program is its user-friendly approach. There are no volume commitments or deadlines to be met.
Cory Garner, vice president of sales and distribution strategy, said that all that is required is an NDC Certified Level 3 connection.
He said agencies that implement the connection by the end of 2018 will be guaranteed the benefits of the incentive program until 2020.
Garner said the connection will provide access to information not commonly available through conventional pipelines, including in the area of duty of care, such as day-of-travel flight changes, confirmation that a traveler has boarded and the overwater position of flights.
It also will provide access to American’s unique content and ancillary products, such as corporate bundles of services, including those designed for C-suite occupants, and self-service waivers and favors.
Just a few years ago, American was known as a hardliner when it came to direct distribution.
It demanded that any entity – agency or third party – that wanted to distribute its ancillary products connect directly with the carrier.
American has “turned the page” on that approach, Garner said.
Since then, it has done deals with all three GDS companies for the sale of paid seats.
“What we care about now is the trajectory” – getting the industry moving in the right direction in the adoption of new technology– he said.