NEW YORK—TravelClick and Phoenix Marketing International recently concluded a study of more than 900 travel agents who are located throughout 52 countries. This study revealed that travel agents are continuing to report a record use of Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to make hotel reservations.
Coinciding with TravelClick’s data projections for 2017, the study also indicates that it will be a record year for GDS hotel bookings. In fact, the data forecasts that GDS hotel booking growth will surpass 68 million reservations this year—an increase of over two million hotel bookings that were generated in 2016. The 2017 Global Travel Agent GDS study surveyed travel agents worldwide who use Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport.
Half of global travel agents who were surveyed (50%) reported they are using the GDS more often compared to two years ago. Additionally, 29% of these travel agents said they are using GDS shopping displays more often compared to the past two years; over two-thirds (69%) said they are aware of GDS promotional text messages, up from 65% in 2015; and globally, 70% of travel agents who were surveyed also reported they will book a great 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.”
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—with 89% of all travel agents who were surveyed considering this somewhat or very important. Nearly two-thirds of travel agents who were surveyed (63%) said they even actively book away from hotels that do not offer their best rates within the GDS.
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 checkout (complimentary breakfast and internet were excluded from this year’s study to get a sense of which other amenities travelers find important).
Despite the upsurge and subsequent rapid growth of Airbnb among consumers, travel agents have not overwhelmingly embraced on-demand/sharing economy sites in the same way, with 46% 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.”