The GDS has been a vital part of the hospitality industry for decades, with the first one created back in the 1960s. This ‘Global Distribution System’ acts as a central reservation system for different strands of the hospitality and travel industry, from airlines to hotels.
If you work within hospitality, you’ve probably used this hotel global distribution system hundreds of times already – but you may still have questions about what it is, how it works and why it’s important for venues in the travel and hospitality sector. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about GDS.
What is the GDS?
The GDS is a colossal computer network designed to collate and share information from a multitude of different sources. It gathers data on rates and availability from hotels, airlines, rental car companies and other travel organisations and passes it onto the end user – usually a travel agency or an OTA. It also facilitates automated transactions between all of these providers. If you’ve ever booked a trip through a travel agent, it’s likely they were using the GDS. Likewise, if you’ve ever booked through a site like Kayak or Expedia, you’ve tapped into the GDS yourself.
Where does the GDS’ data come from?
Well-known systems including Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan and Pegasus feed information into the GDS.
Is the GDS different to a central reservation system (CRS)?
Yes. A central reservation system is used by individual organisations, such as your hotel. It allows you to manage your own inventory and any reservations made by customers. Anyone wanting to book a room at your hotel will interact directly with your CRS.
The GDS has a different purpose. It allows the end user (whether it’s an agent or a customer) to compare prices, feature and facilities across a range of hotels, often without any direct contact with the hotel. Sites like Expedia and Kayak are the ‘portals’ used to access these enormous databases of information.
Why is the GDS important?
Hundreds of thousands of travel agents and even more consumers tap into the GDS every single day. If your hotel is listed as an option on the GDS, your visibility will be enormously increased. You can also use the tool to market special offers and discounts to travel agents or OTAs, which could increase your visibility (and bookings) even further.
How do I get my hotel onto the GDS?
You’ll need to use a portal like Amadeus or Sabre to become listed on the GDS. These portals charge a commission, and there’s a one-off set-up fee to get you started. Think of it like your home internet – you pay an internet service provider to gain access to the internet, just like you’d pay a portal like Travelport or Amadeus to gain access to the GDS.
Does my hotel have to be on the GDS?
Not necessarily – many experts believe that small hotels joining the hotel global distribution system will not be able to accommodate enough bookings to justify the ongoing cost. But for hotels with around twenty-five rooms or more, situated in a busy or popular destination, the benefits generally outweigh the costs. It’s worth looking into a GDS option that suits your hotel’s specific needs.