Long before the rise of the internet, the GDS (Global Distribution System) existed, with its airline origins dating back to the 1960s. Today, the GDS is used by travel agencies, travel management companies, and corporate travel managers – providing hotels with a significant source of reservations and revenue. However, with so much industry attention focused on growing direct bookings and the ever-changing OTA (Online Travel Agency) landscape, the importance of the GDS hotel booking platform can get forgotten amid all the noise.
Why Should Your Hotel be on the GDS?
1. GDS Hotel Bookings are Growing Faster Than Direct Bookings
According to research presented at the 2018 Hunter Hotel Conference, while it’s true that direct bookings are on the rise, GDS year-over-year performance has been increasing steadily, growing from 42 million hotel bookings in 2009 to 70 million hotel bookings in 2017. In the fourth quarter of last year, transient room nights booked via the GDS increased by 5.8 percent, while direct bookings rose only 1.7 percent. And in the second quarter of 2018, the GDS channel showed the greatest increase in transient average daily rate (ADR) over every other channel in comparison to last year, increasing 2.4 percent to $245.
2. Corporate Travel is Still Predominantly Booked by Agents
The number of travel agents relying on the GDS to make hotel reservations is on the rise as well, particularly when booking corporate travel. And travel agents still reign supreme when it comes to booking cruise and tour packages, garnering more than two thirds of the market share, according to Phocuswright’s 2018 U.S. Cruise and Packaged Travel report. And remember, when travel agents book these travel options for their clients, they’re also booking hotels.
3. Active participation in the GDS gives hotels additional benefits:
- Increased revenue
- Marketing exposure
- New geographic market expansion
This distribution channel puts your property in front of untapped market segments, broadening your exposure to include customers you wouldn’t ordinarily reach.
Why is Your GDS Hotel Description So Important?
First Impressions Count
There’s a lot of truth in the often-quoted statement from New York University psychology professor James Uleman, PhD, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” First impressions count. This fact holds particularly true when your property first shows up in a GDS search by a busy travel agent.
Consumers Act Differently Than Travel Agents (To No One's Surprise...)
There’s a big difference when it comes to marketing your hotel to consumers, versus the travel agent channel. The customer shopping journey can be a long, meandering process, as travelers slowly filter out what they don’t want in a hotel and zero in on what they do want. Travel agents are consummate professionals who do a lot less shopping and a lot more buying. They seek to secure deals quickly by gathering pertinent information about your hotel at a glance, focusing on rates and location – proximity to airports, attractions, and local companies. And skimming for relevant hotel facilities and services that will meet their client needs.
Real-Time Consistency Across Channels is a Must
Because the GDS operates in real time, for your hotel to reap the greatest benefit it’s crucial to maintain an accurate and up-to-date GDS hotel description (HOD). Whether you operate an independent property, or you’re part of a chain, brand consistency is foundational to your business success. If your description reads differently from one distribution channel to another, travel professionals as well as consumers are going to be skeptical as to which information is accurate and will likely not waste time trying to figure it out.
How to Optimize Your GDS Hotel Description
With thousands of hotels promoting their products within the GDS, competition is fierce. But there are practical tactics you can use to ensure your property rises above the rest.
Review Your HOD on a Regular Basis
Space within your hotel description is at a premium, so take this opportunity to tell your story, your way, and make it "snackable".
First, review your HOD on a regular basis and make certain your up-to-date information offers an enticing written description that highlights your property’s best features and amenities using short and long descriptions which are uploaded to the GDS. Describe what’s unique and important about your hotel’s location. Emphasize special room amenities, like luxury bedding or balcony views. And point out what’s included in room rates, e.g. free Wi-Fi, parking, or breakfast.
Second, be sure to remove old promotions like your Valentine’s Day special or other seasonal offers. One issue that affects a hotel’s ability to make those regular updates is that each GDS (Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport, etc.) has its own platform which must be navigated. Using the right hotel reservation platform saves you time and eliminates frustration by allowing you to update descriptions, amenities, and images across every GDS – and all channels – via one convenient point of entry, helping you maintain brand consistency.
Lastly, Don't Neglect Your "Visual Description"
There isn’t a single travel agent or consumer who’s going to book a hotel without looking at photographs! Include professional eye-catching images and video tours in your HOD, as these play a key role in your sales process.
A challenge in this is that every channel has different requirements, making image updates a complex, time-consuming, and often frustrating process. With the right technology solution in place, however, all you have to worry about is uploading your most current photos, and the system handles the rest – distributing them to the appropriate channels in the correct format.
The evidence is clear. Hoteliers looking to grow their business can get a substantial boost through the power of the GDS. The key to remember, is that the GDS operates as an electronic brochure for your property. Keep your HOD current to get optimal results from this effective distribution channel.
Food for Thought
Did you know that you can optimize and manage all of your GDS content right from the Pegasus Reservations Platform? We'll help you simplify the madness.