Everyone talks about the value of data these days, but travel management consultants have known this for over 50 years. Because data makes a GDS essential for business travel.
What Does a GDS Do?
In travel management, GDS stands for Global Distribution System. A GDS manages and distributes travel products to agents around the world in the form of GDS data.
GDS' draw data is from a dizzying variety of sources, including:
- Flight and travel information
- Vehicle rental
- Hotel reservation and inventory
- Booking options and prices for every stage of the traveller’s itinerary
Part price comparison tool, part itinerary planner, a GDS gives travel managers all the data they need to create the best experience for the best price. Agents can augment their GDS further and streamline their processes with modular travel management software.
Leading Global Distribution Systems
Amadeus is a widely used GDS that allows TMCs to access sales and reservations, inventory management, and departure control systems from a large number of airlines. It was founded in 1987 as a collaboration between Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa, and SAS - and was built to offer European competition to Sabre and Galileo in the US.
The Sabre global distribution system is the closest competitor to Amadeus when it comes to total market share as it was the first-ever GDS. A joint project between American Airlines and IBM, then later sold to Expedia, Sabre offers a range of services to TMCs.
Travelport is a company that owns the Worldspan, Galileo, and Apollo systems. While the parent company is based in the United Kingdom, the Worldspan and Galileo GDS databases are located in the United States. As an organisation, it provides GDS services and a variety of other travel industry solutions. Travelport offers access to diverse markets, including those in the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
3 Ways a GDS Helps Manage Business Travel
1. Find the Right Flight, Hotel, or Taxi
In its basic form, a GDS lets you choose the right means of travel or stay without trawling through a dozen airlines and hotels individually. Obviously, “right” means different things to different people – it might be the price, the time, or the class of travel. Whatever your parameters, a GDS makes it easier to find the perfect business travel option.
GDS technology also helps travel managers get the best deals for their clients. Targeted promotional messaging on the system alerts TMCs to the best packages, fares, and offers without hours of tedious research. And it’s all updated in real-time, so you never miss an opportunity. TMCs, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, need to stay competitive, and a GDS helps them do just that.
2. Build an Itinerary Quickly
Before agencies had access to the GDS, every process was long, manual, and laborious. A single ticketing request could take up to 90 minutes per booking to process.
Travel managers had to thumb their way through entire indexes of flight details. The travel manager would simply mark the card to confirm a seat on the flight then repeat the process all over again for a hotel, a taxi, and anything else that’s needed.
And then they’re back to square one for the next request.
The GDS compiles all indexes and makes it a simple case of filtering through the options and confirming a selection. It turns booking business travel from a once-arduous chore into a three-minute job.
3. Manage Business Travel at Scale
A GDS improves business travel for both the business and the traveller. This allows travel management companies to deliver the best experience at the right price. And because it digitises the process, it allows companies to deliver service at scale.
This is important because very often, business travel requires managing the movements of large sales teams and global events teams, not just individuals.
Travel agents that use a GDS can make their travel services available to customers globally, expanding their pool of potential customers considerably.
Can a GDS Improve Your Business Travel Management?
GDS systems are complex and require specific accreditations to use. However, they are useful to a variety of travel management businesses.
- Corporate Travel Agents. Corporate travel agents book hundreds of flights every year, so a GDS is ideal for them. This can either be a travel agent who books on behalf of corporate clients, or an appointed individual at a corporation who has the capacity to book travel for all their employees.
- Agents That Book Complex Itineraries. If your business specialises in niche verticals, such as around the world tickets or you have a steady stream of clients with multi-stop itineraries, the GDS is essential.
Can You Improve Your GDS Experience?
There’s no doubt that a GDS is essential to business travel management. But let’s face it, it’s far from a flawless solution. That’s what we’re here for. Our range of GDS travel software solutions helps travel agents have as great an experience as the ones they deliver to their clients.