Global Distribution Systems (GDS) power the global travel industry by generating billions of dollars in sales every year. Online travel agents and travel agencies use a GDS to search for the best available travel and accommodation rates for their clients. In fact, more than 600,000 travel agents use a GDS every day to book flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and destination activities.
As a result, being represented on the GDS is absolutely crucial for groups, hotels and apartments – especially if you’re struggling to attract enough attention from travellers online. Finding the right representation company can, however, be quite a mindfield.
At HotelREZ, we specialise in GDS distribution and representation, currently helping more than 1,500 hotels in over 100 countries receive more online bookings. Here’s everything you need to know about a GDS, and how to choose the right GDS partner for your hotel.
What is a GDS?
A GDS is an online platform that connects travel bookers and suppliers worldwide in real-time. Simply put, it connects to your hotel’s property management system (PMS) or Channel Manager, which sends live rates and availabilities to both the GDS and online booking websites. In a way, being on a GDS is almost like hiring a sales manager in every country – it’s a quick way to capture bookings from other travel markets and reach travellers worldwide. There are currently four major legacy GDS platforms: Amadeus, Galileo, Wordspan and our partner Sabre.
Why you need to be on a GDS
Instead of thinking of it as ‘another platform’ to attract guests, see a GDS as a direct marketing tool for your hotel. If managed correctly, being represented on a GDS will dramatically increase hotel bookings and revenue, particularly from corporate bookers. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect:
- Generally, you’ll receive more GDS generated bookings than direct bookings
That’s not to say that hotel website bookings aren’t important but a mix of both would be ideal. Have a look at how to increase direct online hotel bookings for more.
- Your hotel’s information, availability and rates will be placed in prominent locations
This increases the chance of travel agents from all around the world to find you and opens up markets you couldn’t previously reach.
- You’ll see an increase in profitable corporate bookings
Many large companies use a GDS to manage their travel expenses. Known as the ‘RFP season’, every year, between July and September, travel managers send RFP (request for proposal) bids from corporate clients. Hotels around the world then compete for this bid to attract more corporate business. Find out more on the importance of RFPs to increase corporate GDS business.
- Your hotel’s brand awareness will increase
If you complete your hotel description correctly, you’ll rank higher on GDS search results when someone searches for accommodation in your area. Your brand messaging will also display throughout the search and booking process, which will help travel agents remember your hotel in the future.
How to choose the right GDS partner for your hotel
So how does one actually get on to a GDS? There are two ways: through a hotel technology provider or a hotel representation company. There are a number of technology providers that enable a single point of entry to the GDS. But while a hotel technology provider gives you access to a GDS channel, it does not provide you with help on how to best use it to optimise your distribution strategy. This is where a hotel representation company comes in. Have a read of our recently published article to find out more about the difference between a technology provider and a representation company.
If you opt for a hotel representation company (which we recommend), make sure you choose a provider with a comprehensive range of GDS services, such as a good cost of sale and an attractive RevPAR per room. Here are the most important things you should look for in a GDS partner:
- Integration capabilities
Make sure you find a provider that completely integrates with your existing PMS or channel manager to ensure the process is as simple as can be for you. This will also allow you to effectively implement and manage your distribution strategy.
To give you an example, we use our central reservation system (CRS) CentralREZ, a one real-time, easy to use web-based system. It allows you to load and manage both your rates and content, and then distribute them across a multitude of channels effortlessly.
- Attractive Fee structure
The goal of a GDS partner should be to help you increase revenue and not the other way round. Make sure you choose a partner that doesn’t ask you to pay really high fixed fees as it should be a commission fee for delivering the bookings.
At HotelREZ, we are passionate about providing an improvement on your current ROI through reductions in cost of sale and a parallel growth in incremental revenue. What’s more, we waive entry to 17 main consortiums and TMCs, helping you save over US$15,000 per annum in participation fees.
- Ability to target specific markets
Through a GDS, you should be able to discover new market segments and tap into geographic locations you didn’t have access to before. As such, ensuring that your GDS partner has the ability to help you target specific markets is crucial.
With over 15 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, we have strong leisure agreements that tap into niche markets and receive business from a variety of locations such as China, Russia, the US and Germany, to name a few. Furthermore, we have rate agreements with over 100 GDS and DHISCO partners linking and biasing HotelREZ member hotels.
- Corporate booking support
The GDS is particularly important when it comes to receiving business from corporates. And while corporate bids are extremely lucrative, RFP submission can be an overwhelming process for hoteliers, especially for independent properties that may lose to competitors from larger, branded chains. Therefore, the GDS partner you chose should have a clear hotel RFP process in place to help generate new corporate business for you.
At HotelREZ, all of our members have access to our very own corporate database for corporate agreements, which generate 100s of RFPs each year. We also have a demand generation team working hard to identify new corporate business for our member hotels. Find out more on how our RFP services can help you provide negotiated rates to corporate clients.
- Marketing services
A good GDS partner will help you generate greater awareness for your hotel online and build a strong brand image within specific market segments. Make sure the partner you choose helps you make the best possible decisions regarding your marketing strategy and distribution plan.
We offer added-value hotel marketing and consultancy services to increase business from both domestic and international markets via our core and niche marketing programmes. These are supported by pro-active social media and e-commerce activities, to use at your discretion.
- Comprehensive reporting
A GDS partner can only help you make good decisions if they provide you with comprehensive periodical reporting. This allows you to view and evaluate your booking data, helping you determine how to best move forward with your distribution strategy.
We offer a powerful reporting and analysis tool that lets you gain valuable insights about reservations and revenues generated from all the different distribution channels. We also provide monthly audits to make appropriate recommendations on how to improve visibility and performance and to ensure your hotel is performing as well as it should.
Why HotelREZ is the perfect GDS partner for your hotel
And there you have it – everything you need to know about a GDS, the benefits of being on one and what to look for in a GDS representation company. At HotelREZ, we currently provide quality distribution, representation, marketing and consultancy services to more than 1,500 hotels in over 100 countries. Our team of industry specialists work hard to support revenue growth and business development for all of our members in an ever increasingly competitive market.
When you join HotelREZ, you are not simply a client, but rather part of our family. We’re able to offer you a one-stop-shop solution, including connectivity, channel manager, booking engine, website design, competitive set reports and travel agency commission processing. If you’re ready to join a GDS and are looking for the best representation partner, find out more about our services or get in touch today.