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Business Travel Travel Industry

GDS & Business Travel: Definition Series

Business travel is an advancing, multi-faceted, and frankly, a pretty complicated industry. That’s why we’ll be breaking down some of the most confusing issues, terms, or functions within the industry in our definition blog series. We’ll identify specific business travel terms and explore its importance for companies, both big and small. We’ll also examine important tips or pain points to consider in your business travel management program. To start off, we will define the ‘GDS’ and how it is used in the business travel industry.

What is the GDS?

Called the Global Distribution System, or GDS for short, it is essentially the brain of the travel industry. A computerized network system, it provides real-time information to companies; including airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and travel agencies. Each of these industries use the GDS to see real-time inventory of other services in the travel industry.  For example, a travel agency can find the number of hotel rooms available, number of flight seats available or cars available on behalf of a client. One distinction is that the GDS is not a reservation system, but instead provides the information and a link to the services.

How do TMCs use the GDS?

Travel management companies use GDS systems to locate the best airline ticket, car rental, hotel room, etc., for their clients. They can customize information based on the traveler’s preferences, itinerary, etc. To further complicate things, there are different types of GDS systems available such as Worldspan, Sabre, or Galileo.

When a traveler requests travel from a travel agent, or travel management company, the agent will access the GDS to find the most accurate and cost effective itinerary for their traveler. The TMC is charged each time they access the GDS, but this is typically waved to the client. There is no way for the average person to access the GDS without help through a travel agency or other vendor.

How do online travel sites use the GDS?

Here’s the thing, they regularly don’t! Have you ever found an out-of-this-world low price on a ticket while using an online travel site?  But when you get to the final booking page, the ticket is ‘suddenly’ gone? You have every right to be annoyed, because it likely wasn’t available when you found it in the first place! Due to the cost of accessing the GDS, most online travel sites only look for prices once a day. Through a process called ‘screen scraping’, they take inventory of prices and seats available at one time and continually use that information until the next time they access the GDS. That means that most of their inventory is immediately out of date and typically more expensive.

Anything else I should know?

As with anything in life, there are a few quirks. For example, Southwest Airlines does not work with the GDS company, WorldSpan. Agents who use WorldSpan either do not book with Southwest or must look for pricing directly with Southwest Airlines. Something else that is newsworthy, is the content agreement in which airlines sign to work with GDSs, is up for renewal. Many in the industry are wondering if airlines will be renewing their relationship with certain GDSs. And if not, what does that mean for booking air for the travel agents and their clients?

We hope you learned something new about the business travel industry today. Check back as we dismantle the confusing world of business travel management in the next blog of our definition series. Christopherson Business Travel is an award-winning corporate travel management company. We’ve spent the last 60 years developing our unique approach to integrated technology and dedicated support. Learn more about us and our travel management services on our contact page.  

 

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Management Travel News Travel Technology

Managed Travel 2.0–What’s the fuss all about?

Managed Travel 2.0, an idea/program where travelers shop and book travel anywhere on any safe suppliers, provided they are within budget and the data on their transaction and travel is then collected in real-time by their company, is a very interesting concept and one that will probably move forward, but with possible resistance from many. I find this interesting to watch and consider because of all the players involved.

The consensus among industry experts seems to be that travel technology has not progressed at warp speed like other technologies. Some blame this on the travel industry’s GDS (Global Distribution System) situation. I don’t know that I agree with this theory completely, but then again, when you have been in the same industry for 30+ years, like I have, without viewing the progression speed of other industries’ technology, I suppose I’m not equipped to weigh in with a fully educated opinion.

During the GBTA’s recent convention in Boston, there were a few educational sessions regarding this topic. In the session I attended, 80% of the attendees were either travel managers or procurement specialists. During the presentation, it was suggested, based on information from a GBTA survey, that an unmanaged travel program is better than a managed travel program for a number of reasons–savings being one of them. The tension in the room was intense, to say the least.

However, in a recent newsletter from Travel GPA, CEO Rock Blanco, addressed the information presented in that GBTA forum, and pointed out that the benefits of a managed travel program–namely data, safety, and proven expertise–is where the value lies.

Like I said, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Categories
Business Travel Travel Industry Travel News

Delta Air Lines to Sell “Economy Comfort” Through Travelport’s Travel Agent Reservation Systems

We applaud Delta for their recent decision to sell “Economy Comfort,” their premium Economy product which provides more leg room, through Travelport’s global distribution system (GDS).  The agreement will create Economy Comfort booking access later this year for travel agents who use their reservation systems. We, at Christopherson, currently use two of Travelport’s GDSs: Worldspan and Apollo.

This is an important step in the ongoing discussion between airlines and the GDSs, on how to distribute their ancillary products and services. Last year, I wrote a post about this very discussion titled “The Airline Ancillary Fee Conversation
Needs to be Redefined,” wherein I stated that, “Realistically we should only be talking about the GDS technology that is required at the time of booking.” This important announcement to sell Economy Comfort through Travelport supports that view. Thanks Delta!

“Customers today can purchase Economy Comfort directly with Delta at delta.com, through a Reservations agent or at the airport via a kiosk or ticket agent,” said Wayne Aaron, Vice President – Marketing Programs and Distribution Strategy at Delta. “Partnering with Travelport broadens the availability of this popular product to Travelport-affiliated travel agents. We are always willing to work with partners like Travelport who bring value to the distribution chain and can deliver our product on a cost-effective basis.”

Economy Comfort features three to four inches of additional leg room across Delta’s fleet of two-class aircraft. On long-haul international flights, the seats also have up to 50 percent more recline than standard economy class seats.

Categories
Travel Management Travel Technology

Lowest Airfare; Guarantee or Fiction

Can anyone really offer you the lowest airfare for your flights? You bet, but you need to understand what that means and what it doesn’t mean. Most travelers that shop the various online travel sites have experienced frustration and confusion when a low airfare is available one moment and gone the next or they find a lower airfare after they made their purchase. That’s why a travel management company with the right tools and knowledge can guarantee the lowest fare. They work with and understand the following. Airline inventory control and yield management departments have created a science of maximizing revenue for each flight and every seat on those flights. Based on inventory history, which is defined as the actual load factor at the time of departure, airlines track and model the performance of each flight , each day of the week in the summer versus the fall and based on this data create a yield management model for that specific flight. The model includes increasing or decreasing fare availability as certain inventory triggers are reached irrespective of how near or far away the date of departure. If demand is high there is little change, however, if demand is low then the lowest airfare can change two or three times daily.
Additionally, there are differing distribution channels used by each airline that affect the available content (seat & fares) based on fees charged the airline for each booking by the distribution company. These distribution companies include Global Distribution Systems (GDS) (Apollo, Sabre, Worldspan and Amadeus), airline hosted web sites, online travel sites (Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity), and auction web sites like Priceline. Each of these distribution channels have differing agreements relating to what content the airline will provide in relation to the cost of distribution. In other words, some sites have the lowest fares of an airline and others may not. A new entrant into the online airfare pricing options are the metasearch engines such as Kayak and Voyji. These guys create what is being referred to as virtual databases. They take the travelers request, pass it to differing travel databases and then compile the results as a list of options that when selected the traveler is “deep linked” to the web site page offering the airfare. I’ll stop here because I’m sure you get the picture.
With all that said, Christopherson Andavo Travel employs the use of 3 GDSs and industry tools that search all travel databases for the lowest fare available at the time of request. This in-depth fare search is performed with each request to your Christopherson Andavo Travel team; and this we guarantee.