Travel Agents Are Increasingly Using Global Distribution Systems to Book Hotels

The role of global distribution system (GDS) companies is shifting. This Feb. 1, 2010, file photo, shows The Westin Philadelphia hotel in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke / Associated PressSkift Take: Agents may be placing more hotel bookings through global distribution systems, but the fact remains that hotels would like to move away from expensive distribution channels like these. — Andrew SheivachmanWhile the role of global distribution system (GDS) companies is shifting in a dynamic marketplace, they remain useful for travel agents around the world.
TravelClick and Phoenix Marketing International polled more than 900 travel agents using Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport in 52 countries on their use of global distribution system platforms. Half of those surveyed said they are using a global distribution system more than they did two years ago, leading to an increase in the amount of hotel bookings placed on the platform.
Hotels pay a fee of about 20 percent on a booking when they sell a room on a global distribution platform, leading many to look for other distribution solutions like encouraging travelers to book direct online or using online booking sites.
TravelClick provide revenue management solutions along with a booking engine and other reservations technology to hotels, and has a stake in the issues discussed in this research: it helps hotels manage their presence on a variety of distribution platforms.
“It’s clear from both the research and our data that global travel agents rely on the GDS as an essential operating system for conducting hotel research and booking reservations,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst at TravelClick. “This study is also consistent with our business intelligence data, which shows that GDS hotel bookings and average daily rates that are generated through travel agents are on the rise. All of this further proves that hoteliers have ample opportunity to generate incremental revenue and maximize revenue per available room through the power of the GDS.”
When it comes to these hotel bookings, 63 percent of those polled indicated they tend to book away from hotels that don’t offer the best rate on global distribution system channels. More than two-in-three (70 percent) said they will book the best deal they find regardless of the advertising content the systems push them. Sixty-nine percent of agents polled said they’re aware of promotional text from global distribution systems, a four percent increase from 2015.
Interestingly, 46 percent of agents surveyed said they are booking alternative accommodations less now because they aren’t available on global distribution systems (Airbnb may quietly be looking to solve this problem.) It could also be that agents don’t make any commission on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway, so don’t have the incentive to book them for clients.
“Travel agents cited a strong preference to book lodging directly through the GDS systems and not on Airbnb or other alternative lodging websites,” said Hach. “Keeping this in mind, hoteliers have access to a proven and growing hotel booking audience to help them effectively compete within the sharing economy.”