How do you make sure you can tap into last minute deals from sites such as Expedia?
The answer is you’ll need the advantage your competitors and travel agents have – a Global Distribution System (GDS). More than 600,000 travel agents plug into a GDS every day to book flights, hotels, car rentals and destination activities.
A GDS is a worldwide conduit between travel bookers and suppliers, such as hotels and other accommodation providers. It communicates live product, price and availability data to travel agents and online booking engines, and allows for automated transactions. This tangled web of databases has become even more labyrinthine following the explosion of online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Booking.com and Wotif.
Keeping up with the rapidly evolving market is both challenging and rewarding for hotels, says David Chestler, Executive Vice President – The Americas, at cloud technology provider SiteMinder.
“It seems that every week there’s a new channel or emerging trend for hotel operators to keep up with, and decide whether there is a real opportunity or if these are just distractions.”
He adds, however, that a GDS is “definitely a significant opportunity” for hotels.
How to be visible and bookable
Chestler illustrates his point by comparing the global distribution landscape to a supermarket. “If you want to be visible and bookable … your hotel needs to be on those supermarket shelves whenever and wherever your guests go shopping for a hotel booking,” he explains.
This approach is particularly effective at capturing international corporate travellers. “You can gain lucrative international corporate business, particularly if you’re near a major airport gateway or close to major government or commercial enterprises,” says Chestler.
More leisure travellers are also getting caught in the GDS web. The use of global distribution systems across corporate and leisure travel is on the rise, with the total number of travel agents using a GDS increasing by 14 per cent from 2011, according to market research by Phoenix Marketing International.
Helping hotels to capitalise on this trend is GDS by SiteMinder – a web-based technology solution that connects hotels to all GDSs, including the likes of Galileo and Worldspan by Travelport, Sabre, Abacus and Amadeus.
Live rates and availability are sent from a hotel’s property management system (PMS) directly to the GDS and online booking websites through SiteMinder’s Channel Manager. As soon as a reservation is made on the GDS or an online booking website, the Channel Manager instantly reduces inventory across all channels, including the hotel’s own website, and automatically delivers the reservation details back into the PMS or central reservation system (CRS).
Checklist for choosing a GDS
Chestler offers the following tips to hotels in the market for a GDS:
- No commissions or fees for delivery of reservations to your PMS.
- A system that supports pooled inventory, so every room you have for sale is distributed to all channels, not split between channels.
- Integration with your front desk and PMS. This allows you to spend more time looking after your guests and your business and less time doing laborious, time-consuming reservation data entry.