With advanced digital technologies flying into every possible work sphere, a disruption in the way people search, plan and buy air travel is imminent.
The poster boy for travel innovation, today, is the New Distribution Capability (NDC) programme that IATA is leading. According to the trade association representing the world’s airlines, NDC will enable the travel industry to transform the way air products are retailed to corporations, leisure and business travellers by addressing the industry’s current distribution limitations.
While the NDC will facilitate a mix of amenities and services in air travel buying, it lacks a specific mention of travel insurance. While the traveller places travel insurance at the bottom of his ‘traveldos’ list, studies show a growth in global travel insurance. In 2015, Europe led the industry, followed by Asia-Pacific. This could be due to emergency situations like the Ebola epidemic, Nepal earthquake and the Paris attack. These emergencies threw traveller plans and safety in a disarray, making travellers more aware of the need for travel insurance. Travel insurance provides an extensive range of benefits for events, such as trip cancellation due to a medical emergency, loss of baggage, evacuation due to a medical condition or hijack, and loss of travel documents among the more prevalent ones.
When asked for his views on travel insurance, Rajendran Vellapalath, CEO, TPConnects said, “Travel is trending globally, but it pays to be mindful of travel-driven emergencies. The ‘what ifs’ deserve an equal space in the minds of travellers, as much as other aspects like comfort, price, service, speed, etc. With the help of travel insurance experts like Tune Protect, we can start working on an action plan for the same.”
Vellapalath added, “The IATA NDC standard B2B and B2C platforms will help travel agencies to service their customers better and offer them a rich mix of travel-related services including travel insurance and ancillary options. Travellers will be able to have their preferences recognised on a travel agency’s website or an online travel site similarly to an airline’s website – a service that may not be directly available to agents today owing to technology limitations.”
Arijit Munshi, General Manager, Tune Protect – EMEIA, said, “Tune Protect will be more than willing to discuss and work with IATA to build a better travel protection programmes. Together we could work on how to customise and embed travel assurance products or travel protection programmes within the NDC Standard to offer better peace of mind to the travellers of today.”
NDC is off to a flying start, the key question is to the travel industry professional, “Have we got it all covered?”