Revenue Manager: Maintain GDS’s Information and Increase Hotel Revenue

By.  Ahmed Mahmoud 29th Apr 2013
Nowadays it become an essential issue that hotels should keep displaying accurate availability, rate and descriptive  information in the global distribution systems (GDS) i.e. Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan in order to receive their optimum flow of reservations from these systems (and from the Internet-based Web sites associated with them), those information must be correct and kept that way at all times.

All hotel reservations should be coming from the major GDS’s. This is the case worldwide for hotels that use it. So, if you are not signed up to one or more of the GDS’s then you are missing out on these bookings revenue. CRS Bookings provides next generation seamless connectivity through all four GDS channels. Your hotel will be made availability to travelers around the globe through your connectivity to all GDS and their 600,000 + travel agents worldwide with Real-time rates and availability ensure up-to-the-minute pricing in all four channels.

The question will be:  What are GDS / ODD mean?

 GDS / ODD are connectivity modules which allow hotels to connect with Travel Agents and Online Customers.

 GDS (Global Distribution System) since  CRS’s Originally designed and operated by airlines where it is extended to be used by travel agencies , lately become known as  (Global Distribution System) reaches 300,000+ IATA registered travel agents powered by four networks: Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan and Galileo; the same reservations systems used to connect with the airlines.

 ODD (Online Distribution Database) connects 100’s of Internet travel portals or OTA’s (online travel agents) such as Orbitz, TravelNow, Expedia, and Hotwire.

 Hotel Information in the GDS

In the early beginning when hotels became bookable in GDS, all the hotel data and information were updated manually via the central reservation system (CRS) and then entered again into each of the then six GDS’s. This labor-intensive data entry was done by chain corporate staff or by representation company staff. Few years after, hoteliers and GDS management cooperated take a major stride forward when they developed computerized functions to automatically transfer availability changes from hotel CRS’s to the GDSs. The next challenge was to automate the processes for rate maintenance in the GDS’s,.

The challenge to hoteliers to maintain up-to date rates in the GDSs was becoming steadily greater with each passing year. It was not uncommon for the backlog of rate entries waiting to be keyed into the GDSs to be weeks or in worst cases months long. The annual rate solicitation, resulting in hundreds or thousands of new negotiated and corporate rates, was a particular challenge for every hotel company’s data base group.

The question will be: How does it work for my hotel?

Your property’s information including rates and inventory should be loaded into both the GDS and ODD networks. From there, many online travel portals retrieve your property information and display it in the customers search results. Travel agents primarily log into one of the four GDS systems to retrieve your property information. Furthermore, many online travel portals also retrieve your property information from one of these four systems e.g. Travelocity exclusively retrieves your property information from Sabre.

Hotel Rates in the GDS

 A hotel room rate appears in the GDS as a price, but In reality, it is associated with considerably more information about the hotel. if we exam a guestroom rate, it is the price for a specific number of persons in specific room type with specific bedding; it is available between a start date and an end date; it may have restrictions on who may purchase it, and it may have associated business rules such as guarantee and cancellation requirements, like the LTO (Limited Time Offer) where it required advance purchase non refundable, reservation can’t be cancelled or amend. In short, creating a new rate in the GDSs is a complex process, just as it is in CRSs. Once a rate is initially created, however, revising the dollar amount of the rate – assuming the other factors associated with that rate remain unchanged – is comparatively simple.

 The question will be:  Why / do I need the GDS / ODD connection for my property?

The GDS / ODD system is used by travel agents and online customers all over the world to book rooms directly to your hotel. This connectivity will promote your property globally 24/7. Furthermore, it will create incremental business opportunities for you that would be much harder to handle without this connection, where it can easily manage all of the inventor and rates for the GDS / ODD system. This allows travel agents and online customers to view the most up to the minute rates and availability. GDS gives travel agents confidence in the accuracy of the information they provide to their clients and shortens the time necessary to book your hotel.

 The easy tools to Maintain information and Rates

Hoteliers sought, and found, several tools to ease this growing rate maintenance burden. The first option to market was offered by Lanyon, Inc. of Irving, TX. In 1993, Lanyon introduced its Lanyon-RATE rate updating product. In succeeding years Lanyon created a suite of data maintenance products including RatePublisher (with expanded rate updating features), HODpublisher, DRSpublisher, RFPpublisher, ChannelPublisher and PropertyVault.

The second option to market was offered by WizCom with its EasyAccess RATE rate updating program, also a rate updating program, which was initially limited to its GDS switch service customers. WizCom subsequently supplemented EasyAccess Rate with the addition of EasyAccess HOD and Easy Access RATECREATE. WizCom data maintenance tools were soon after made available to non-WizCom switch users.

Both Lanyon and WizCom products received a positive reception by the hotel industry and have become the major service-style vendors, with less-visible options although some hotel companies i.e. Carlson Hospitality, Omni Hotels and Starwood Hotels & Resorts preferred, however, to purchase an independent  tool rather than use a subscription-style service. The option they found was a technology offered by IBM knows as Advanced Communication System Access or ACSA. Early users found that programmer resources were required to understand the basics of this technology before they could themselves write the programs the ACSA hardware/software required in order to perform various rate updating functions.

  The Seamless Connectivity tools

Introduced in the mid-1990s and fully embraced by the hotel industry by 2000, an  automation tools were easing the GDS data maintenance process for the hotel community, allowed the GDS to instantly relay that query to the CRS of the chain identified by the travel agent (or Internet shopper using a GDS-related Web site). The CRS then instantly responded with a list of rooms and rates available accompanied by a two-line sales description.

Seamless refers to the latest type of GDS link whereby the hotels’ CRS are linked directly to the GDS’s where each one have seamless products, although each refer to it by a different name, i.e. Direct Connect Availability for SABRE or Inside Availability for Apollo. This technology ensures the most current and accurate rate information available to travel agents today. Because of this and many other benefits, nearly 100 major hotel companies today are using seamless connectivity and many others have plans to use it in the near  future.

The good benefits of seamless connectivity plus savings in time and money for hotels , is  that hotel companies are now able to ensure that their distribution channels are synchronized from one source, the CRS database. This means that whether you are calling the central hotel reservations number, searching on the hotel company’s web site or searching in a GDS, you can be sure that the information is the same.

To Maintain Or Not?

Here comes the question, does seamless connectivity removes the need hotel companies to maintain availability and rates in the GDSs?

 The simple answer is yes. Why? Because some of the initial queries that travel agents and other Web sites plus the OTA makes in order to reduce their search to a single chain, or a single property, still rely on data stored by hotels in the GDSs – not on seamlessly retrieved data.  

Regardless of how travel agents search for hotel rooms, they ultimately book the reservation using a seamless link that goes directly to the CRS. Further, when hotel managers are making crucial revenue management decisions they want only the most accurate information possible otherwise they may put their hotels’ yield in jeopardy by offering rates too high or too low. Lastly, even when a hotel finds that their information in the GDS database is incorrect, they have little or no control over the information in those databases. That is because the hotel companies see GDS databases as a default option to what is on seamless availability.

 Without question, many hotel brands and representation companies are reviewing the breadth of rates that today they maintain in the GDSs. And some are reducing the number of rates that they maintain on a moment-to-moment basis in the GDSs. Those companies have realized, however, that real-time maintenance of availability, rates and other data in the GDSs continues to be the key to successful participation in those systems.

About  Ahmed Mahmoud

Ahmed Mahmoud has more than a decade of experience in the hospitality industry and business administration, Ahmed began his career early by holding a variety of management positions with such top hotel chains as Accor Hotels, Hyatt International and Starwood hotels. With decades of revenue management experience Ahmed founded the very dedicated site for revenue management news, articles,

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