A recent study of more than 650 agents from 34 countries found that travel agents are using Global Distribution Systems (GDS) more than ever before.
The 2013 Bi-Annual Global travel agent GDS Study, conducted by market research firm Phoenix Marketing International in partnership with TravelClick, surveyed travel agents worldwide who use Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan.
The GDS is one of only two channels that travel agents are using more than in the past, with the percentage of agents increasing their usage of the GDS up an impressive 14 per cent from 2011. The only other channel that experienced growth was hotel/chain websites, which increased 3 per cent. Travel agents’ use of all other channels (including other agent booking tools, telephone to hotel/CRO, travel mega-sites, general hotel directories and direct mail/fax) shrank significantly in the past two years, decreasing 21 per cent.
“The GDS is more popular with travel agents than ever. This year the GDS is on track to produce 58 million hotel reservations, up 5 million from 2011,” said Jason Ewell, Executive Vice President, business intelligence, media and web solutions for TravelClick. “As key influencers in booking decisions, hotels need to merchandise themselves to travel agents at the point of sale through the GDS.”
Nearly two thirds of agents will actively book away from a hotel not in full rate parity within the GDS
Rate parity emerged as a critical issue for travel agents. Of those surveyed, 81 per cent stated it is very important that the GDS offer rate parity. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) stated that they would book away from hotel properties that do not offer full rate parity within the GDS.
“With more agents using the GDS, there is an increased emphasis on ensuring rate parity so that agents can maintain credibility with their clients. There is nothing worse for an agent than offering a rate to clients only to learn that they could find a better rate by themselves on a different channel,” said Mr. Ewell.
Travel agents affirm that rate, whether negotiated or not, is the critical factor at determining their booking decision
The study highlighted travel agents’ desire to provide value and build loyalty with their clients by booking promotional rates and best available rates as opposed to just relying on negotiated rates: