The modern hotel industry is dependent on technology – to manage bookings, room inventory and for marketing. The system of managing wholesale rates and availability which bridges the gap between the guest, hotel and travel agents goes back as far as the 1950s.
While you might think of your own global distribution system hotel tool as being incredibly modern and at the cutting edge of the industry, the concept of a global distribution system is almost 70 years old. It might sound archaic to suggest that the answer to your contemporary problem of how to increase tours and activities bookings could lie so far back in the archives but, that’s actually very much the case.
A little bit of history
The first global distribution system hotel industry professionals will recognise emerged in the 1950s as the result of a joint project between computer firm IBM and American Airlines. Other airlines soon switched on to the benefits of the AA and IBM invention, creating their own alternatives in quick successes – Delta created DATAS while United Airlines dubbed its GDS Apollo. The American Airlines GDS was the benchmark, right through to the 1980s, and the system used by most travel agents for inventory purposes.
Amadeus launched in 1988, followed by the likes of Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan.
Why are global distribution system hotel links so important today?
It’s not enough to simply have a booking engine for website visitors. Without connectivity to a global distribution system like Amadeus or Sabre, your hotel may as well be invisible, with all of its doors locked and phones switched off. Connectivity with a GDS is your passport to travel agents and tour operators.
The global distribution system software creates a communication gateway between hotels and other travel providers and travel agents and tour operators, who can use the GDS to carry out automated transactions.
Today’s global distribution systems also have close links with online travel agents – such as Amadeus’ link with Opodo and Sabre’s investment in Travelocity.
Can you use this system to increase your tours and activities bookings and further develop that revenue stream?
If you have struggled thus far to increase your tours and activities bookings, and find that your booking engine for website visitors doesn’t generate enough tours sales, the good news is you aren’t alone. Many activities and tours providers face the same problem – too few suppliers and far too little inventory in reservation systems connected to distribution systems.
Being able to use GDS in the same way as other travel services do could give you access to a much larger network than is likely the case now. This increased exposure means it’s much more probable that you’d see a growth in sales of both tours and activities that you may offer supplementary to your main accommodation service. With connection to a GDS, ancillary products such as tours could be sold alongside the primary hotel reservation, helping to increase sales.
There are barriers to this of course, not least of which is technology and adoption. More suppliers overall would need to use third party booking systems connected to global distribution systems.