Travel agents are using Global Distribution Systems (GDS) more than ever to make hotel reservations, according to a new study. The study also revealed that rate parity – maintaining consistent rates for the same product on all online distribution channels – is an extremely important issue for agents.
The findings emerged from the 2015 Global Travel Agent GDS study, which surveyed travel agents worldwide who use Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport.
TravelClick, which provides a hotel revenue growth system, and Phoenix Marketing International, a market research firm, recently concluded a study of more than 900 travel agents located in 48 countries.
- Over half of the travel agents surveyed (51%) reported that they are using the GDS more often compared to the past two years.
- Additionally, over a quarter (29%) of travel agents who were surveyed said they are using GDS shopping displays more often compared to the past two years, and nearly two-thirds (65%) said they are aware of the GDS promotional text messages.
- Among those who were aware of these promotional messages, nearly a quarter (24%) said they request additional information by viewing the screen that’s attached to the promotional message, and 29% look inside of the GDS system for this information. Sixty-nine per cent of travel agents reported that they will book a great hotel offer regardless of advertising screen type.
“Travel agents around the world are increasingly utilizing the GDS for hotel research and reservations,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst at TravelClick.
“This study correlates with our business intelligence projections that 2015 will be a record year for GDS hotel bookings. The growth reinforces the importance for hoteliers to pay extra attention to the GDS, especially as it is one of the highest average daily rate channels for maximising revenue per available room (RevPAR).”
Over half of agents stated that they book away from hotels that do not offer best rates within GDS.
Rate parity – maintaining consistent rates for the same product on all online distribution channels – remains a vital issue for global travel agents, as they were virtually unanimous in their belief that GDS systems should offer rate parity (96% considered this somewhat or very important).
Over half of agents stated that they actively book away from hotels that do not offer their best rates within the GDS, and if there is a better rate that’s outside of the GDS, a travel agent will book through that channel. Agents also universally reported that they actively work to save their corporate clients money, as 47% stated that they book best available rates over negotiated rates to save on hotel room costs.
“This year’s study is the most comprehensive to date, and travel agents were universal in their support for GDS rate parity and offering best available rate options to corporate travelers with negotiated rates,” Hach added.
The importance of value-added inclusions remains strong
Amenities are still driving global travel agent behaviour, with complimentary breakfast and free internet scoring the highest ratings. Among those surveyed who indicated that amenities and offers geared toward the traveller are appealing, the most appealing amenities include free breakfast meals (83%), special rates (77%), free Internet (72%), free upgrades (62%), free night stays (50%) and star/consumer review ratings (43%).
Edited by Peter Needham