Ah, the good old days, when the first hotelier hung up a shingle outside his cave entrance. Times certainly have changed, but it hasn’t been so very long ago that small and independent hotels were left outside even the earliest automated booking technologies, developed by the airline industry in – hold on to your hats – the mid-1960s!
We’ve come a long way since then. Even now, the hotel industry is still growing into its full potential when it comes to global distribution systems (GDS).
What Is A Global Distribution System?
A global distribution system, or GDS, is the online tool used by travel agents to book airline seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, and related travel services. It’s the engine that drives not only most traditional travel agencies, but also many of the biggest online booking services, like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Kayak.
The most popular of these GDS services are names you may not have heard, because they are the underpinning behind the better-known sites:
- Travelport (the umbrella company for the Galileo, Apollo, and Worldspan brands)
Though the primary user of the GDS is still the airline industry, the “big three” are now beginning to cater to small and independent hotels, chain hotels, and car rental companies to get them in on what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Cruise lines, tour operators, travel insurance companies, vacation rentals, and even destination-oriented activities are not far behind.
While GDS is the electronic reservation tool for more than 160,000 brick-and-mortar travel agencies and more than half a million travel agents worldwide, the Internet has changed pretty much everything. Consumers can buy just about everything without going through a middleman. Gone are the days when, in order to book leisure or business travel, the customer had to darken the door of a travel agent.
Now, individuals can book leisure travel (Travelocity, CheapTickets, etc.) or corporate travel (GetThere, Travelocity Business, Transversa, and more) and handle the entire process without spending a second of phone or face time with another human being.
GDS and Your Small or Independent Hotel
The airline industry has a pretty big head start on the hotel industry as a whole when it comes to utilizing the full potential of GDS services. But that doesn’t mean a small, single-property hotel or independent chain can’t get in on the action and make it much easier for individual customers to find and book rooms.
Getting your small or independent hotel listed in a GDS like Travelport will make your facility visible to a much wider audience. This is the kind of exposure you just can’t buy with traditional marketing efforts.
GDS and Discount Options
A global distribution system makes it possible for a small or independent hotel to attract new customers who take advantage of “flight + hotel” discounts. In addition, the GDS lets customers search for hotel rooms near where they want to go – like amusement parks for leisure travelers, and restaurants or conference centers for corporate travelers.
Customers can view your small or independent hotel on a map in relation to desired activities, and read customer reviews on the same screen. There are even options to sort a search by amenities offered, price, star rating, and more, so if a customer wants a hotel with a pool and a workout room, and your facility offers them, your facility is more likely to get in front of that customer’s eyes.
Travelers who are looking for a desired hotel room at a specific price – remember when we talked about your target audience? – can get an email or text notification the instant a discount on rooms at your facility goes live.
Next time we’ll look at some more reasons why you’ll want to get your hotel listed on a GDS.
Smart eHotels™ has helped many small and independent hotels to maximize their GDS and marketing sales efforts. Contact us today to see how we can help you!