4 Ways to Increase GDS Visibility in 2023Reading Time: 5 minutes
Global Distribution Systems (GDS) are recovering steadily, even in resorts and other leisure-centric hotels. Recent data from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) survey shows that 78% of GDS buyers predict higher levels of business travel in 2023, and 85% expect increased corporate bookings volume next year.
In this article, we show you why your hotel should be visible on GDS, and share 4 tips to help you get started…
First things first, why should your Hotel be visible on the GDS
When we think of the GDS, it’s usually in relation to the corporate travel segment. Although corporate travel is recovering at a slower pace than leisure travel, GDSs are also being used by travel agents booking complex travel itineraries, typically for clients with multi-destination travel plans, which can really come from any segment. Furthermore, since May 2022, our market data shows a significant and consistent uptick in group bookings. After two years of Zoom calls and online events, our group enquiries pipeline is now at 85%.
Global Distribution Systems connect over 40,000 agencies worldwide, which means that if your hotel is visible, you will increase exposure, revenue generation options, and market reach. For instance, if your hotel is located in Lisbon, being on the GDS will allow small travel agencies anywhere from Brazil to Bangladesh to book your property.
It’s also important to mention that in a post-pandemic world, many travelers are opting to book their itineraries via travel agencies that they can trust to provide them the best deals, information about various destinations, and flexibility if market changes or disruptions arise – as we saw in summer 2022.
The GDS is a single platform that aggregates all destination-specific travel information, allowing travel agents to book hotels, flights, and car rentals etc. If a travel agent is looking to book a hotel in the GDS and your hotel is not there, they will not go to a different website to look for your hotel, they will stay in the same GDS environment and book a different hotel. Therefore, you should consider keeping your hotel visible.
4 Ways to Increase GDS Visibility in 2023
While there is a lot to consider in order to optimize your visibility on GDS, you can get started with these 4 handy tips below:
1. Optimize your Hotel Description and Content
If you want to truly stand out to travel agents worldwide, then optimizing your hotel description page (HOD) is a great place to start. Your HOD should cover the main areas listed below:
- Hotel Description: including rooms, room size, and equipment in each room etc
- Hotel Category: Luxury, Upscale, Midscale etc
- Amenities: These should be up-to-date, detailed, and accurate, including whether your hotel has a bar, swimming pool, or spa etc.
- Rate Description: including whether the room has WIFI, free parking, breakfast included, or upgrades etc
- Sustainability Measures & Initiatives: This is top of mind for travelers, groups, and corporates today, so neglecting to include it could cost you bookings.
- Hotel Ratings & Reviews: Such as Expedia, Booking, TripAdvisor, or Northstar, which is particularly important in the US. Hotels may want to consider publishing customer reviews on their key services and products.
- Corporate Rates: If you have these available, you should highlight them.
- Address: Make sure this is as accurate and detailed as possible
- Photos of your property: You should aim to publish a minimum of 20.
- Link to your Hotel website: To make it easier for travel agents to book.
- Contacts: Make sure this information is updated regularly.
- Awards: Including accolades (particularly sustainability awards) can give your hotel extra prestige and increase the likelihood of bookings.
- Loyalty programs: If you offer these in your hotels, you should include them to generate repeat business.
Hotels should consider what type of content will make them stand out to travel agents. You may also want to consider including additional information about your destination, including landmark descriptions such as the nearest airports, historic areas, and anything else that could be of interest to the market segment and travel agents you are targeting.
2. Set your Rates Strategy around your target market
Before implementing your rates strategy, it’s important to get to know your guests, establish your core market, and target accordingly. GDS rates are broken down into two main categories, which are as follows:
- Public Rates: Rack (standard published rates), BAR (Best Available Rate), Corporate Rate (transient corporate business), Promotional (leisure business), Package (leisure business), and non-refundable, government rates (US). Usually these rates are commissionable by 10 – 20% for travel agents. Don’t forget, you are giving them an incentive to book.
- Negotiated Rates: These include qualified corporate or business partnerships. Hotels may also negotiate directly with travel agents or companies. The negotiated rates are not public and are locked with the rate access code (given by the company or travel agencies) and the office ID (which means that you can assign the rates to specific travel agencies).
If you have a partnership with a company you will need to create a specific rate for them. You should also ensure you have your availability and prices loaded for the whole contracted period. Make sure you have the rates and availability for all the room types.
Make sure that you have the right room types that you want available on the GDS. If you have too many room types, maybe you should consider which ones make the most sense to be on the GDS. Less is more, and if you have too many, you might confuse the travel agent.
Above all, make sure your rate loading instructions are clear and thorough for the travel agent to understand.
3. Automation is your friend
With over 100,000 travel websites, agents and portals out there, the GDS can’t be handled manually. It’s imperative you have the capability for the GDS to integrate completely with your CRS, PMS, booking engine and channel manager. Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport conduct object audits quite frequently to monitor integration quality, object performance, and pricing accuracy, which can help simplify the process for you.
Travel agents tend to contact the hotels directly by email or telephone to make bookings within contracted agreements. Therefore, hotels may want to reach out to their partners (Tour Operators) and verify if this share of bookings might be redirected to the GDS (‘automation’ being the key word). This will ultimately leave you with more time and resources to effectively implement and manage your distribution strategy.
4. Adapt to current Market Trends
Since the pandemic, hotels with the most flexible cancellation policies have increased relevance. In fact, most negotiated queries request for arrival day cancellations or, at the most, 48 hours.
Although travel has boomed in 2022, it’s also important to note that, given the significant level of disruptions over the summer, many guests are choosing to book package deals via a travel agency, with many willing to even pay more for extra peace of mind.
In its 2022 Global Travel Trends Report, Amex found that 86% of participants in the UK and the US planned to spend more or the same on travel this year compared to a typical year before the pandemic. And in Flight Centre’s own 2022 Travel Trends report, 54% of Brits said they would choose to book through a travel agent rather than independently.
Your hotel should take all these trends into consideration and adapt to them.
It’s important to remember that many guests are now opting to book via traditional travel agencies for increased peace of mind. Thus, the GDS remains the platform of choice for bookings by travel agents.
According to a recent survey by Amadeus, 55% of travel agents surveyed across the EMEA region mentioned that, in 2022, they used the GDS platform more often than in 2019. Only 33% mention that the other reservation channels are being used more than in 2019. Furthermore, over the last couple years GDS providers are more than ever investing in technology to improve the user experience.
Therefore, you may want to consider increasing your visibility on the GDS, to increase your exposure and revenue options in 2023.