The main purpose of a global distribution system is to help travel agents search for hotel accommodations that fit a set of criteria. It is a business-to-business system used by companies to stay on top of real-time data about the availability of travel arrangements, such as hotel rooms, to sell them to customers planning to travel. They create a common entry point for multiple travel agencies and travel agents to access accurate information about travel reservation availability and prices.
It was an invention of the airline industry that was first used in the 1960s. The airline industry was searching for a way to automate the travel reservation and booking process for travel agents so that they could more efficiently access information about flight schedules, fares and seat availability. Before this system, travel agents had to refer to lists of airline fares that were published annually in a book of tariffs each time that a customer wanted to book a trip.
Benefits of GDS
There are several major benefits when it comes to global distribution systems within the hotel industry. Here are five ways they make hoteliers’ jobs more efficient and effective.
1. Increased Access to Travel Agents for More Bookings
Many companies still rely on travel agents to book arrangements for their employees instead of having someone on staff take care of individual employees' reservations. There are now more than 600,000 travel agents who use global distribution system searching to find and complete hotel reservations online.
2. More Efficient Booking Process
In addition to the increased exposure to more customers at once in making room reservations, these systems help alleviate some of the administrative burdens on hotel staff in booking room reservations. The instant access to bookings online means that hotels are simply notified after a reservation is complete instead of having to accept them manually. This means that a hotel does not have to increase its reservation intake staff in order to receive additional reservations.
3. Bundling Options for Other Travel Needs
Another advantage of using a global distribution system for hotel room bookings is that travel agents are able to bundle travel deals for the same trip. For example, they can book the hotel room, flight, rental car or any other ground transportation from the same system. This makes it more likely that a travel agent or customer will select a hotel that is included in a bundling option.
4. Less Expensive than Marketing
While there is an initial fee in setting up a global distribution system for a hotel, this is likely much less than a hotel chain would have to invest in marketing costs to see the same increase in bookings. Instead of the expense and time demands of creating a new marketing campaign, a hotel can immediately access a bigger share of the travel reservation market by signing up with a global distribution system to get in front of more travel agents.
5. Integration with Property-Management Systems
Furthermore, many of the leading distribution systems are capable of complete integration with the property-management system, which helps manage the daily operational tasks of a hotel. Full PMS integration means hotels can automate the tasks associated with taking on room reservations without having to manage individual components, such as the room cleaning schedule, staff availability, current booking and availability information, event calendars and supply levels. A channel management system helps convey real-time information from the hotel's property management system to the distribution system so that the most accurate data on room availability and rates is available to travel agents.
What are the Major Hotel GDS Systems Used Today
Three major systems used today for hotel bookings are Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport. Learn more about the development and use of these popular distribution systems below.
Amadeus: This system accounts for about 40 percent of all travel reservations currently, which means that it is the largest reservation system used today. While it is a popular system among hotel owners, it is actually mostly used for booking airline reservations. However, this is the preferred booking system for most European trips because of its strong presence in Spain and Germany. It was founded in 1987 and has been one of the most efficient systems for adapting to the transition to e-commerce.
Sabre: This system is responsible for about 35 percent of all travel reservations, making it the second-largest system for hotel reservations. About 220,000 hotels throughout North America participate in this system. It has been around for more than four decades and has since acquired Travelocity, a popular provider of online travel reservations.
Travelport: This is the smallest of all three of the major distribution systems, but it is still widely used by corporate travel agents for booking travel reservations. It is based out of the U.K., but it is mostly used in the U.S market for hotel reservations. This system also has a particularly strong presence in Asia right now.
In summary, the global distribution systems available for hotel reservations make booking travel arrangements for customers much more efficient. Hotels benefit from increased access to the market for travel reservations and fewer errors in the booking process as a result of a single access point for multiple agencies to browse and select hotel room availability for travelers. Complete PMS integration for hotels means that using a distribution system to connect with more travel agents around the world is cost-effective and stress-free.
Atul Gupta is a technical project manager for Chetu with more than 11 years of software development experience in the hospitality industry.