Wednesday, 4 July 2007
The GDS' are the distribution backbone for travel agents, in-house corporate travel departments, and many of the Internet distribution systems like Expedia. They deliver rates and availability information for travel covering air, hotel and car rentals. The information is delivered to the travel agent, so that it appears on their desktop computer using special software to search, display rates and book.
The GDS' Hotel information was originally all input by hand and this is still done manually in many cases. Pegasus employed a house full of workers to do this work, much of this is now out sourced to India. The process is very tedious and time prone to error. Once the information is loaded software system maintain the rate and inventory changes in all GDS. The Pegasus Switch coordinates hotel information bewteen gds sytsems. Data from hotel chains, Internet sites and GDS agents all at some piont use this switch.
To avoid delays and errors hotels and their technology providers opted to integrate the GDS information with their own reservations and property management solutions. This was called seamless integration. 2 way seamless refers to the systems that can manage GDS rates from the hotel CRS or PMS. One way integration simply means the hotel system can view the GDS sales but not manage the data.
Seamless Integration is not the same as NEXT GENERATION.
Next Generation capability was built by the GDS to allow compatible systems to input the data directly into the GDS´s. There are several such sytems in place. (list of services). This means that a hotel might use an online form to input their rates and data and this goes directly into the GDS. It substantially reduces the time to get to market and eliminates some errors when re-keying data. GDS sold this option to vendors who it turn incorporated it into their hotel solutions. Some setup shop as GDS agents to offer this service.
NEXT GENERATION ROBOTICS
The technology to update a mainframe is not trivial. It involves robotics that interface online internet system with GDS mainframe computers. Mainframes are not Internet savvy computers and cannot be accessed directly to change and add data. The data is sent via packets relayed on telecommunications network. The packet relay is interpreted by the Mainframe. As these mainframes are all different systems, protocols and standards were created. Mainframes also have very specific rules on what characters are accepted. Charters and in some cases words act as tigers to set off process in a mainframe, so the information sent to a mainframe must be accurate and comply with their rules. Even years after implementation the GDS-load process was finding errors in data integrity. A simple quotation mark can trigger a failure with disastrous results.
The Pegasus switch (originally called thisco, now called Utraswitch) is not a next generation technology. That is why Pegasus bought a similar system developed by Trust that was. Pegasus plans to upgrade all system by 2008 with conversions starting with hotel factory (their Central reservation system) in November 2007. Pegasus PR
Next Generation provides GDS users with real-time rates and availability that is 100% identical to the information used by a hotel company's own reservations staff. The information is more quickly available and more accurate resulting in increased confidence and usability by agents. With NEXT generation Seamless, agents are more inclined to sell more using the GDS rather than book via telephone to assure their clients the lowest rates. Galileo Inside Shopper, Worldspan Integrated Hotel Source, Sabre Direct Connect Shop, the respective GDS' Next Generation Seamless products, were implemented by 2004.
GDS Chain Codes
© Ian Clayton, AXSES SCI 2007.
see arcRes solutions for tourism, AXSES web Solution
The GDS have long been the primary source of travel agents bookings in the world. Today they do much more and supply content rates and hotel inventory to thousands of On-line Travel website.
The GDS systems are a huge network of thousands of computers set up originally by companies like Sabre, WorldSapn. Amedeus, Galileo and Pegasus. They provided Computer Based Reservations (CRS) services to all travel agents long before the Internet. These system are still in place and are used by more that 480,000 agents worldwide.
When you visit a Travel Agent you will see them at the CRS to find and book flights and resorts.
It has traditionally been an expensive distribution system requiring setup fees in the thousands of dollars as well as booking fees, transaction fees and agents commissions. As a result many smaller hotels are not represented in the GDS and GDS have not been too interested in this sector as they problem of coordinating inventory has been too great (a small hotel just does not have a sufficient supply of rooms to justify the effort of cost them up).
With the advent of new technology this has changed. Now there are GDS agent companies who specialise in supplying content to the GDS computers. The Internet also makes it easier to get the information and distribute it. This has made GDS widely available to hotels of all size. An inovator in opening up the Market was Tom Egan of reserv, who single handedly changed the face of distribution by offering an easy to use system with no setup fees and no minimum charges. His system worked on next Generation technology meaning that the entire process of setting up a hotel was done on-line, no manual entry. Alas Tom sold out and his ideas hot the dust.
2 way integration
New e-commerce systems (such as arcRes http://Bookings-Expert.com, http://axses-innkeeper.com and http://arcRes-CRS.com) are integrated with the GDS system to make it even easier and more affordable for hotels to market throught GDS. The two way integration makes it easier to setup and to manage rates and inventory in multiple channels. It essentially means that a hotel can use their own web booking engine or front desk software (that is GDS integrated) to see and process GDS reservation and to update allocation and rates. This is a great advantage as it means less to learn and to manage.
see also GDS Next Generation Seamless
A major problem facing the industry now is the proliferation of vendors. Whereas before we had a few key Tour Operators, now there are numerous Internet companies, like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotel.com, Priceline.com and many others that have vastly more exposure that the traditional Tour Operators. Getting products onto these system and maintaining rates, content and inventory requires full time management and is not feasible for many small resorts.
Fortunatly new hotel tools like arcRes Website Bookings Engine (Bookings-Expert) now provide a single system to maintain. It also makes rates management easier by allow suppliers to specify any rate in any channel as a % of another rates or a markup on costs. Other companies like AXSES are working on building tools that will change the face of distribution giving suppliers (hotels and tourism operators) control over the supply chain. The new model emerging is supplier centered, supply chain management.
In the new business model the hotel and tourism operator tools (field tools) are fully integrated at the operator level and with downstream distribution. For example the web bookings engine is integrated with property management, housekeeping and inventory. All this is integrated with the GDS system and destination portals like http://BookingsStlucia.com as well as with the GDS, and retail sites like http://travelocity.com feeding from the central database updated by arcRes.
Very Long Ago.
The history of the development of GDS is a great story. One of the best accounts I have seen is available at http://www.innadvance.com/index5.htm
In breif, it follows the development of a reservation systems spearheaded by American Airlines. The startup of ThisCo the switch that connected hotels to the airlines and travel agents systems and all the steps leading up to that.
© Ian Clayton, AXSES SCI 2007.
see arcRes solutions for tourism, AXSES web Solution
With so much happening in the world of travel its a good idea to share what we know.
For Example, i have been watching the press releases re Pegasus purchase of wizcom from www.trustinternational.com/, a travelport company, and part of the Cendant empire. The stories say trust has decided to vacate that part of the business. An insider says not so, the are building a new GDS next generation interface!.
Where does that leave Pegasus, did they get sold a bundle?. Pegs says NO, They are actively promoting the Next "Next Generation" at the HITEC show june 2007.