What is the GDS. Obviously the acronym for the Global Distribution System but how does it work? What does it do?
With the continuing surge of OTAs and with a glimmer of hope in the future for any decrease in their importance in a hotel's marketing plan, the GDS has taken a back seat to what once was an important part of any property's bottom line.
The GDS is nothing more than an conduit of information from the hotel to third party booking agents. It is a huge network that just facilitates bookings between hotels (and airlines and rental cars) and the guest through a third party. In the past many of these booking agents were live human beings referred to as travel agents. When was the last time you heard someone say they booked your hotel through a travel agent? The GDS originated in the early days of computer use back in the 1950's.
The primary GDS channels are Amadeus, Worldspan, Galileo and Sabre. All of these corporations are owned and operated by airlines, some hotel groups and rental car companies. The GDS was originally set for use just by airlines. The ability for travel agents to use the system soon followed.
Does your hotel still need the GDS? Probably. Your GDS listings on major OTA's such as the Expedia channels and Travelocity, if available at all, will be buried. And while obviously the GDS is not as important to any hotel as it once was, there are some consideration to take to heart before you dismiss this option.
There are some major players that still use the GDS. Hotwire and Priceline are but two.
Travel agents still book travel especially group business and corporate.
You can set up channels to book directly with large corporations such as Boeing.
AAA properties must be on the GDS in order to book on the AAA website.
The GDS does supply some very nice niche business to some property types such as ski lodges.
The reservations you do get are a significantly less cost than OTA's.
Remember that the GDS is just a conduit to other channels. They do not store rates or pictures or descriptions. The hotel uploads this information and the different channels come along and takes the information and uses it to update their system. If you are changing GDS providers make sure the information that is loaded is correct. It is easier to get it loaded correctly from the beginning than to change the property's information later.