Contributed by Paula Perrin, Sr. Market Analyst, SHR

Global Distribution Systems (GDS) are used by Travel Agents (TAs) and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) to book hotels, offering real-time availability of rooms, rates, and dates. But getting the most out of your GDS can often be more difficult than it should be. Used correctly, GDS can help your hotel reach over 700,000+ global TAs as they select the right properties for their clients, so having the best tips and tricks up your sleeve when you need them can make all the difference.In this three-part series, several of SHR’s resident experts discuss the major GDS challenges hoteliers are facing today, and practical ways to not only solve these challenges, but really get your GDS working for you. This week, I sat down with Kameron Martinez, Key Client Success Manager at SHR, to explore three simple yet crucial best practice steps to getting more revenue out of your GDS starting today.

#1 Think of Your TA as Your Guest

We all know that hoteliers have more competition than ever before, and that applies to attracting TAs as well as guests, so any booking commissions you’re offering need to be placed in the right spot so TAs can easily see what they’re getting. “It’s their livelihood, and they’re keen to book a commissionable rate versus BAR,” Kameron said. It’s important to note that this issue often doesn’t come up until the TA tries to book your hotel -- or passes it by. A handy way to think about this? “You have to remember that on the GDS, the TA is really your guest because they see you first,” Kameron said. “So, make what you’re offering them clear the first time so they can pick your hotel quickly.”

GDS best practices

#2 Up Your Visibility with (the Right) Landmarks

Ideally, there should be areas in your CRS where you can enter in important landmark descriptions that your guests and TAs need to know about to get your hotel more coverage from the GDS. “For instance, the closest airports, theme parks, and historic areas are great,” Kameron said. Should you list everything of interest around your hotel? Kameron suggests that to be successful with landmarks, you have to be selective and realistic. “If you’re 500 miles away from something, then don’t use it, but if you’re 100 miles within the radius, go for it,” he advised. “You don’t ever want to risk frustrating your users.” And remember, when you update things on your end in your CRS, you always need to contact your provider to make sure they change it on their end in the GDS.

GDS landmarks

#3 Fine Tune Your Auditing Frequency

As with many things in life, getting reliable results depends on frequency. And that applies to hotels and the GDS as well, especially when it comes to auditing the system. “Aparium, for instance, is one of our top GDS/Consortia clients and a really good example of what being consistent can do,” Kameron explained. “I’ve worked directly with their Revenue Managers from the beginning, making sure they know how to handle the GDS audits from day one.” Ideally, your CRS provider should be walking you through GDS best practices up front, and that includes an auditing schedule. “In Aparium’s case, I recommended pulling a Hotel Description (HOD) report once every quarter to make sure they know how they look,” said Kameron. Once a quarter is generally a good rule of thumb for almost any hotel business, and can help keep everyone informed, especially staff that is not automatically in the GDS loop. “We find that normally General Managers, Directors of Sales, and other operational people are not as in tune with this type of practice because they have to look at results more often than processes, so it’s good to share audit results at all levels to keep everyone informed,” Kameron explained. Since it can take 3-4 days to pull an HOD report because there’s so much content to compile, sort through, save, and share, make sure to plan accordingly.

As always, whatever you do, keep the lines of communication open with your CRS provider. Doing so will not only relieve frustration for TAs, your staff, and your guests, but help you increase your revenues and your brand visibility in the process.

Next up: Implementations and Your GDS

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