Global Distribution Systems Q&A: Part 1

Every year, more and more hotels – from small independents to regional and multi-national chains – are jumping into the global distribution system (GDS) pool. To make sure you don’t wind up over your head in the deep end, we’ve compiled a few of the most often asked questions about hotel GDS, followed by a few examples of hotel GDS services. We’ll cover two this week, and several more next week.

What is the Global Distribution System?

Simply put, the GDS is the ultimate one-stop online source for hotel room rates, inventory, rooms and their descriptions, and available discounts. Every professional travel agent has access to this massive database through portals such as Sabre, Galileo, Amadeus, Pegasus, and Worldspan.

Popular do-it-yourself search-and-reserve engines such as Booking, Travelocity, and Priceline (to name only a few of the most familiar) also tap into the same GDS database.

My hotel already has a website with a booking function. Why do I need a GDS listing?

While it’s vital to have direct booking capability on your web site, GDS bookings are rising so fast, it’s a phenomenon you can’t afford to ignore. Even with the best hotel SEO, the fact is more and more customers are turning from Google searches to web portals like Travelocity to look for hotel rooms that suit their time frame and budget. Why? Ever more detailed search tools offered by GDS-based booking portals make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for, rather than what Google algorithms select to show you.

Having said this, it should be noted that GDS services are not free. Therefore it’s probably not going to be the right fit for a 3-bedroom bed and breakfast. But if your facility has 25 rooms or more and it’s located in a high-demand travel destination, the benefits of a GDS listing could outweigh the costs.

Tune in this time next week for part two of this Q&A, where we’ll discuss more about the costs involved in global distribution systems, how to protect your investment, and a comparison of several GDS systems.