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iata air travel shopping experience

Stakeholder feedback key as IATA and Thoughtworks deliver air travel shopping experience in nine weeks

Flexible development and feedback from industry participants produce working demonstrator in time for IATA AGM

Global technology consultancy Thoughtworks has used feedback from high-calibre industry participants to deliver a vision of a new shopping experience for air travellers in just nine weeks. Travel organisations were also regularly shown prototypes of the New Distribution Capability (NDC) demonstrator so that continuous feedback could be taken on board and incorporated.


A working demonstrator was delivered in time for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), just three months after project kick-off; the shopping experience is based on NDC, a new XML-based distribution standard aimed at improving flight search and comparison shopping, enabling travel agents and customers to have access to the full range of airline products and services and creating an enhanced shopping experience and a more competitive industry.


Four days of workshops turned a high-level vision into a starting point as Thoughtworks’ team began working from a completely blank canvas. A first working prototype was produced in just two weeks and then refined and extended using an iterative approach, built through repeating processes.


Thoughtworks was able to work flexibly and take on different roles when bottlenecks were on the horizon. Everything from review frequency to team collaboration tools was adjusted as the code took shape, while regular showcases meant that issues were picked up and fixed before they could have a disruptive effect.


With a demonstration system ready in time for IATA’s AGM, the benefits of the NDC standard could be shown and misconceptions dispelled. The new standard will close the gap between the rich content available on airline websites and the more limited content offered through systems used by travel agents and online travel websites. Airlines will be able to more quickly bring products and services to the market; consumers will benefit from having the ability to compare all of an airline’s products and services, not just the base fare and schedule, when they shop via a travel agent (in person or online).


Yanik Hoyles, Head, NDC Program, FDS Transformation, IATA said: “I was impressed with how quickly the Thoughtworks team was able to get up to speed. Air travel is a complex industry and the team were making meaningful contributions before the end of the first week. And they’ve been very flexible, willing to change tactics when needed to get the best possible result for us.”