Online travel sites could include a lot more rich content if a new standard for selling airline seats is established. And that could mean a lot more work in XML.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association that represents 84 percent of global air traffic, is pushing for an upgrade in booking technology called the New Distribution Capability (NDC), also known as Resolution 787. The initiative calls for an XML-based standard for travel agency websites.
This video shows that travel sites could show more than just the fare and schedule. They could allow buyers to select a meal, see what the view from that seat would be and allow sellers to offer a host of upgrades and personalized offers. Critics of the proposal say the system might allow airlines to charge more and limit consumers’ ability to comparison shop, according to The Seattle Times.
Airlines use many of these features on their own websites, but this information is not released to outside travel brokers. Reuters notes that almost two-thirds of airline seats are sold through travel agents, online travel sites or travel-management companies.
It quotes Eric Leopold, a senior IATA official, saying:
"Airlines offer a rich customer-centric shopping experience on their own websites and we want travel agents to have similar capabilities."
Companies such as Sabre Holdings and Travelport could lose business since they make money from contracts linking airlines and agents, Reuters says.
Travelport sees the IATA proposal as self-serving and contends that many of those capabilities already exist, Travel Weekly reports.