NEW YORK–Travel agents are continuing to report a record use of global distribution systems (GDS) to make hotel reservations, according to a study of 900 travel agents in 52 countries by TravelClick and market research firm Phoenix Marketing International. The data from the study forecasts that GDS hotel booking growth will surpass 68 million reservations this year—2 million more than last year. Below are the key findings from the survey of travel agents worldwide who use Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport.
Advertising on the GDS continues to prove its worth for global hoteliers
Half of global travel agents who were surveyed reported that they are using the GDS more often compared to two years ago. Of these travel agents, 29 percent said they are using GDS shopping displays more often compared to the past two years and 69 percent said they are aware of GDS promotional text messages compared to 65 percent in 2015. Globally, 70 percent of travel agents who were surveyed reported they will book a hotel offer regardless of advertising screen type.
“It’s clear from both the research and our data that global travel agents rely on the GDS as an essential operating system for conducting hotel research and booking reservations,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst, TravelClick. “This study is also consistent with our business intelligence data, which shows that GDS hotel bookings and average daily rates (ADR) that are generated through travel agents are on the rise. All of this further proves that hoteliers have ample opportunity to generate incremental revenue and maximize revenue per available room (RevPAR) through the power of the GDS.”
Rate parity still an important factor for travel agents who book on the GDS
Travel agents around the world remain virtually unanimous in their belief that GDS systems should offer rate parity (maintaining consistent rates for the same product on all online distribution channels). Nearly 90 percent of all travel agents who were surveyed considering this somewhat or very important and 63 percent said they actively book away from hotels that do not offer their best rates within the GDS.
As travel habits evolve, so do amenities and value-added inclusions
Globally, amenities continue to serve as a driving force in travel agents’ booking behaviors, although these amenities are changing due to evolving travel habits, particularly among millennials. According to travel agents surveyed who indicated amenities and offers that are geared toward the traveler are appealing, the most appealing amenities include swimming pools, free parking, airport shuttles or transfers, hotel gyms, and early check-in/late check-out. Complimentary breakfast and internet were excluded from this year’s study to get a sense of which other amenities travelers find important.
Travel agents remain loyal to properties that are listed on the GDS
Despite the upsurge and subsequent rapid growth of home sharing among consumers, travel agents have not overwhelmingly embraced on-demand/sharing economy sites in the same way, with 46 percent of travel agents who were surveyed saying they are booking alternative lodgings less often, as they are not bookable on GDS.
“Travel agents cited a strong preference to book lodging directly through the GDS systems and not on Airbnb or other alternative lodging websites,” added Hach. “Keeping this in mind, hoteliers have access to a proven and growing hotel booking audience to help them effectively compete within the sharing economy.”