Hotel owners are regularly being advised to get their name out on as many marketing channels as possible, but it’s hard to know whether some of them are worth trying out or not.One that regularly causes confusion is the global distribution system (GDS), which is a worldwide network that facilitates automated transactions between travel service providers such as airlines, hotels and travel agencies.
The GDS gives travel agents access to the schedules and inventories of a wide range of service providers in real time and can link them together to provide for people who want package holidays.They certainly aren’t new, but they have changed over the years and now incorporate websites like Expedia and Travelocity, as well as information for smaller properties that can be offered up straight to consumers.Despite their longevity, many marketers overlook GDSs and their potentially lucrative benefits, perhaps because they don’t recognise their full extent.
All hotels need to do is link up with a GDS channel manager (there are plenty advertising online), provide their information and then have it uploaded to the GDS automatically. As soon as the bait is taken and a booking is made, the channel manager will adjust the hotel’s inventory accordingly, so there is always up-to-date information available and no issues are created concerning double-booking. It is also common these days for the GDS service provider to manage the sales and marketing side of having a presence on such channels, something that might have otherwise put smaller, independent properties off from putting themselves forward.
This could be vital in helping these properties compete alongside much bigger brands who have considerably larger advertising budgets.It might seem as though GDSs are just another portal that requires spending and maintenance, but hotel owners might want to consider their ongoing popularity before dismissing them, even given the proliferation of the internet and travellers making direct bookings. TravelClick recently found that 51 per cent of travel agents had used GDS more often in the past two years than they had in the years prior, while Hotel News Resource discovered that the system benefits travel agents seeking to find the best hotel process for their business travel customers.This is a departure from previous trends that have seen travel agents being put on the back burner; it seems that businesses are going back to them to cater for their corporate travel needs, which could have an impact on hotels too. If you can change your offerings or make packages to suit businesspeople, you might benefit from increased block bookings at a higher value.
However, before diving in and signing up for a GDS, it’s important to remember that there may be drawbacks too, particularly for smaller properties. GDSs cannot create consumer demand, so you’re only likely to benefit if your hotel is already in a desirable location.Also, GDSs do incur fees, including a one-off charge for signing up and then a regular maintenance fee for continued listings, as well as a ten per cent commission fee each time a room is reserved.It may be best to avoid GDSs in favour of another marketing technique if you are a tiny hotel of less than 25 rooms in a lesser-known resort that doesn’t have a lot to spend on advertising.
Otherwise, consider giving it a try as another way of achieving recognition for your hotel brand – and ultimately, more revenue.