The Global Distribution System and How it applies to Hotels


Whether your hotel is a new or an older property, then the chances are you might have heard the term Global Distribution System (GDS) concerning the travel industry.

However, what it actually is may be baffling to some.Let’s take a closer look at GDSs and how they apply to hotel owners and marketers. What is a GDS? A GDS is a network that facilitates automated transactions between travel service providers such as airlines and hotels and travel agencies. They have traditionally been relied upon to provide services, rates and products to end consumers. With a GDS, travel agents have 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 are by no means a new invention; indeed, the first GDSs were created by the airlines in the late 1950s and early 1960s to track availability and pricing, although the earliest examples were found on index cards rather than online as we experience today.

It was found that GDSs allowed the service providers registered with them to enjoy increased exposure and more sales, so they continue to be popular right up to the present day.In the 21st century, the GDS consists not only of data suppliers to travel agents, but also of websites such as Expedia and Travelocity that operate directly to the consumer.Benefits of the GDST he main advantage of being on a GDS is that it gives anyone selling travel products – including hotel owners with rooms to fill – a virtual marketplace on which to advertise them, meaning they are more likely to be sold to someone who wants them. It also means smaller, independent properties can bundle up packages such as those including accommodation, flights and admittance to a special event for a certain price and offer them straight up to their consumers.Disadvantages of the GDS One drawback of being on a GDS is that it is mostly suited to larger hotels that are situated in already desirable resorts and other areas, so tiny properties in the back of beyond may not see much return on their investment. GDSs cannot create consumer demand, only take advantage of that already there.

Furthermore, there are also a number of fees that hotels registering with a GDS will need to pay in order to be listed. There is a one-off charge for signing up and then a regular maintenance fee for continued listings. Another charge of ten per cent will need to be paid to the travel agency or website that results in your rooms being sold and then charges to the technology provider that ensures all listings are regularly updated and fed to the network will apply too.

However, it is up to hotels to decide if filling the room and paying all these charges is better than having it lie empty and avoiding splashing out to the middle men – remember that payments will only occur when reservations are received. Getting the most from GDSs If you have decided that you do want your hotel to be part of a GDS, then there are a few housekeeping tasks that need to be completed in order to ensure you get the best results from it.

First, create a GDS profile by listing all of the main features of your hotel as well as nearby attractions, amenities and any other important information – no detail is too small when it comes to this part.To get ideas, check out those of your nearby competitors and ensure your property matches up. Double-check that everything is correct (particularly rates) and then add multiple photos to further advertise your hotel. Results and expectations With good information provided to GDSs and location in a desirable resort, it’s possible that larger hotels could attract as many as ten extra reservations a day by opting for this marketing tactic, while smaller properties might benefit from around 20 a month. With exposure to more than 600,000 travel agents worldwide, it could be that any hotel brand could benefit from the extra word of mouth marketing provided by a GDS that then goes on to generate reservations in future when people remember your name.Conclusions and the future of the GDS With the advent of the internet and the capabilities of consumers to book their own holidays without travel agents, it had been suggested that GDSs would become a thing of the past.

However, many travellers still like to use aggregator sites and travel agencies to make their lives easier, so this has not happened. Hotels and other service providers still benefit from GDSs, particularly when it comes to filling rooms at the last minute.In the future, it may be that the GDS morphs into more of a tool for specific interests, such as business travel or a particular type of leisure, while better technology could refine it still further.For now though, remember to use a GDS as part of your wider marketing efforts and consider that you are likely to receive more reservations directly through your own website – keep it up to date and add GDS exposure as the cherry on top of the cake.