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. Even though GDS can help your hotel reach over 700,000+ global travel agents as they select the right properties for their clients, GDS also tends to be very confusing for many hoteliers. This makes getting the most out of your GDS more difficult than it should be.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. To start, I sat down with Alex Alston and Amanda Trinity, both Implementations Team Managers at SHR, to find out what the hottest, most frustrating issues that they hear from their own clients.

#1 The HOD -- Who Are You?

GDS Challenges

An accurate Hotel Description (HOD) is essential for reflecting who you are to the world, especially the TAs. But that doesn’t always happen with the GDS. Why? It’s not hard to understand. “Hoteliers often don’t know what they look like on the GDS,” explained Alex, “because they often don’t know how to get access to it to look at themselves in the first place.” So, pulling your HOD often is your best bet.

This means reaching out to your CRS provider so they can go online and pull your HOD for you. Then you can look at it together and see if your content is accurate, or is out of parity. “You don’t want to find out your content is out of whack by having a guest or a TA tell you, because by then, you’ve probably lost bookings,” said Amanda. “Pulling your HOD on a regular basis can help you stay in content parity, and help keep that from happening.”

REVIEW YOUR HOD
CHECK FOR ACCURACY

#2 Rate Loading Made Easier

Another issue is getting your rate loading right. “We often see TAs who can’t pull the right rates when they need them,” Amanda said. “This is because most rate loading instructions are incorrect or incomplete. The Pseudo City Codes (Travel Agent Access Codes) need to be correct in order for the TAs to access the rates.” Again, you need to get a hold of your CRS provider, and then review your rate loading instructions. “Just like with your HOD, you don’t want guests or TAs pointing out that your rates are wrong.” Or worse. Alex explained that beyond being embarrassing, it can lead to lost revenue. “Sometimes, people won’t tell you when rates are out of sync -- they just won’t book your hotel.” This is because Travel Agents are trained to look out for their guests’ well-being as well as their own. So, make things easy for your TAs and get your rate loading right.

RIGHT RADE CODES
CHECK YOUR INSTRUCTIONS

#3 Heads-Up! Switching Chain Codes

A chain code is your hotel’s identifier with your CRS partner. So, when you need to make a switch, the TAs need to know because they often pull by chain code. How do you do this? “To make sure that your top-ten TAs know that you’re making a switch, you need to give your CRS a proper heads-up as soon as possible,” explained Amanda. Otherwise, the TA won’t be able to pull rates successfully. “Ideally, your CRS provider should be able to send out an email on your behalf to the TAs to help you,” Alex added. “So, be sure to give your CRS the correct email addresses to do so, ideally prior to your GDS go-live date.”

UPDATING CHAIN CODES
TELL YOUR CRS

#4 De-Flagging Your Hotel the Right Way

De-flagging, meaning to leave a large, mainstream hotel brand, may create other issues with your GDS listing. “If you’re going independent, you need to realize that you will now need to take care of the GDS on your own,” explained Alex. “Your CRS should do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to GDS,” said Alex, “so make sure you communicate with them to ward off any surprises and to allow them to help you.”

GDS

Remember, to ensure that you both understand who is doing what in the beginning of the relationship, keep the lines of communication open with your CRS provider. Doing so can not only relieve frustration for your TAs, but help you increase your revenues and your brand visibility.

Next up: GDS Best Practices for Better Search Results for Your Hotel

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