What is the GDS?
The GDS or global distribution system is a software platform that connects hospitality service providers with bookers on a global scale. The system is commonly used by travel agents and corporate travel clients due to the ability to book hotels, flights and ground transportation all in one place.
Much like an online travel agent, rates and inventory are provided to the GDS, which can then accept bookings that are passed back to the hotel.
The global distribution system was created to keep up with the increasing demand for travel services around the world. As globalisation and the rise of air travel saw an increase in global travel demand, more sophisticated systems were needed to allow travel agents to make, track and manage reservations on the behalf of travellers.
This was particularly necessary due to the complexities of managing air travel on a global scale, but it became apparent that the GDS would be an ideal software solution to handle hotel reservations as well.
What are the major GDS platforms?
Some of the biggest GDS providers are Sabre, The Hotels Network, Travel Click (Amadeus) and Travelport (Galileo). Whilst they all operate on a global scale, some GDS providers are more prominent in certain regions of the world and some are partially owned by major airlines or larger GDS companies.
How do you connect with the GDS?
For hotels, connecting with a GDS can be done through a channel manager. The GDS then works the same as all other connected channels and can be managed through the channel manager system.
Inventory and rates are fed from the channel manager to the GDS site, where reservations can be made by thousands of travel agents around the world who are connecting to that system.
Once a booking has been secured, the channel manager updates the inventory available for that hotel to all other connected channels. The channel manager then informs the hotel’s property management system (if they use one) that a booking has been made and needs to be assigned to a room.
An integrated channel manager enables all of this process to happen automatically, eliminating manual data input. Bookings from the GDS flow directly into the property management system and are treated much the same as those coming from online travel agents.
What types of properties should use the GDS?
Whilst any type of hotel can connect to the GDS, some hotel features are particularly attractive to bookers using the GDS to make a reservation.
As the GDS is primarily targeted towards the corporate market, hotels with business facilities and close proximity to the airport and event spaces may benefit the most from a GDS connection.
Whilst corporate travellers make up a large portion of GDS clientele, cruise travellers and group travel bookings that tend to book through traditional travel agencies also form part of the market.