September 15, 2023
The OOSD journey doesn’t have to hurt.
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Most would agree that we airline industry professionals are, for the most part, a well-travelled bunch. We love to travel for work and fun. And we are pretty good at it. We can easily plan trips to far-away lands, even where we don’t speak the language or drive on the same side of the road. We know how to navigate the airports, the trains, or the occasional traffic strike. It’s all part of the adventure and the art of thriving in new places.

Sadly, we have also seen our fair share of less-practiced travellers as they painfully struggle through their trips. You know who I mean – people who envisioned a grand vacation abroad but are unprepared for the experience. They don’t know what they don’t know and end up paying for it with hassle and discomfort. Whether it’s unwieldy luggage without wheels, a lost passport, or a failed attempt to drive on the “wrong” side of the road – we see it and think, “How unfortunate.” Because it doesn’t have to be that way.

It doesn’t have to be that way… As I see it, these words also apply to the current state of progress with airline retailing and NDC, also known in today’s vernacular as Offer-Order-Settle-Deliver (OOSD).

From NDC to Retailing to OOSD – the journey of an industry’s value chain

Nearly 15 years ago, our industry embarked on a worthy journey: the path to modernised air selling. The initial route was hard-going, charted by a handful of bold leaders comprised of airlines, technology players, and forward-thinking travel sellers. But by 2018, and even more notably after the pandemic, that early NDC path morphed into a rallying cry that spanned the entire value chain – airlines, travel sellers, aggregators, corporates, GDSs, PSSs, tech companies, and the main stars, the travellers. Yes, we are all travelling together to a new destination called modernised retailing, a.k.a. OOSD. And yes, it’s a long trip. So, how’s it going so far?

On an exciting note, we’ve witnessed many laudable milestones and advancements on our journey. The introduction of ancillaries, bundles, and rich media has genuinely changed how consumers shop for air products. We’re seeing new experiments in corporate travel that offer more choice to corporates and their frequent fliers. NDC is up to 10% of indirect channel sales. Dynamic and continuous pricing is adding value. Alternate forms of payment (AFPs) are gaining popularity. And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the journey has also been fraught with problems overshadowing much of the good stuff. The worst bumps in the road lie with servicing, which has the entire value chain telling tales of woe: traveller’s stuck with a trip disruption because neither the OBT/agency nor the airline can modify the booking; systems unable to handle simple schedule changes and exchanges; TMCs that can no longer identify the lowest logical airfare due to ‘offer soup’ coming through multiple pipes; airline call centre’s hamstrung by their own NDC implementations. Sadly, this list of pain goes on, too.

Most of these complaints have a common root cause: inadequate management of heterogeneous (multi-source) air content. At Mystifly, we see this and think, much like when one observes a neophyte traveller who is visibly struggling, “How unfortunate.” Because, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Welcome to the world of multi-source – can we get you a coffee?

OOSD is inherently a multi-source world. That represents new territory for many in our value chain, but need not be feared or avoided. I assure you it is possible to seamlessly and cost-effectively source, sell, and service air content in a multi-source world. How do I know? Because at Mystifly, we have lived here for over a decade. Welcome, weary friends. Please have a seat, and let us show you how it’s done.

Since our beginnings over a decade ago, Mystifly has been innovating to solve the challenges that come with heterogeneous air content. Today, over 3000 travel sellers use our Smart Selling Platform to source, sell, and service air content from 700+ airlines that span GDS, NDC, and LCC airlines. Most recently, we have re-architected our technology as a cloud-based SaaS purpose-built for OOSD, including the complex servicing and post-booking problems plaguing airlines and travel sellers alike. We are, today, solving for the majority of the use cases that others would tell you are making NDC/OOSD unusable. In other words, we promise you that OOSD doesn’t have to hurt.

Let’s fix this

Next week’s T2RL Engage event at QE Centre, London will be, as always, a fantastic opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues. There will be plenty of speculation and debate about what’s next on the OOSD journey. In addition, I encourage all of us to focus on practical steps to improve OOSD in its present form. Let’s solve these unnecessary problems causing frustration and costing money across our value chain. Doing so will make this trip more pleasant for everyone.

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