Over half of travel buyers (60%) in the Q2 2023 Business Travel Outlook Poll from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said that some airlines are trying to roll out NDC (New Distribution Capability) too quickly and have not given third-party intermediaries enough time to develop the needed technology and processes.

Among the findings from the poll of over 800 respondents:
  • A third of buyers (29%) say intermediaries have had enough time and should be ready to efficiently handle and service NDC bookings.
  • Around onethird (36%) of buyers say their travel program has been negatively impacted by moves from carriers overall to implement NDC, whereas 29% say it has not been impacted.
  • An additional 28% say they are unaware of any impact, and only 6% say NDC efforts by carriers have positively impacted their travel program. Half of buyers (48%) say they have not yet started to implement NDC.
  • Among travel buyers, a few say they have experienced some (7%) or many (7%) challenges in their NDC process, while even fewer say their transition has largely gone smoothly (3%) or without any challenges (1%). However, 1 in 4 buyers (25%) say it’s too early to assess how their implementation is going.
  • Six in 10 buyers (61%) say they have not budgeted, nor do they intend to budget, for additional NDC-related servicing costs, while 23% say they haven’t done so but their budgeting process is underway.
One-third of intermediary stakeholders cite NDC implementation challenges:
  • Among intermediary stakeholders, including TMCs, online booking tools (OBTs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), one-third (36%) say they have experienced at least “some” or “many” challenges in distributing NDC content to their corporate clients.
More engagement is needed among NDC stakeholders:
  • Eight in 10 travel buyers surveyed (81%) say they need more information on NDC.
  • Buyers’ sentiment is mixed when it comes to how their TMC is preparing them for NDC. Half of buyers (50%) do not feel their TMC has sufficient NDC information and/or is not sharing their plans for implementation.
Aside from NDC, according to the survey, the two key drivers in the industry right now are rebuilding the travel and hospitality workforce and dealing with the business traveler experience, especially when it is faced with disruption.
On staffing, almost 6 in 10 (58%) report continuing labor shortages and /or recruitment challenges. However, a third said they are not experiencing significant difficulties in those areas. The top challenges are unattractive salary and benefits and lack of qualified candidates.

While more than half (60%) said their recent business travel was somewhat or very pleasant, half had concerns about travel disruptions like canceled or delayed flights, long security lines, crowded airports or long bag-check lines.

Travel buyers estimate their companies’ current domestic business travel bookings have returned to 72% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels (up from 67% in GBTA’s January 2023 poll). Buyers also estimate their company’s current domestic business travel spend is 74% of 2019 levels (up from 68% in January).

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International business travel also continues to make its return. Travel buyers estimate their international bookings have recovered to 63% (up from 54% in January), and their current spending is back to 66% (up from 58%).