5 Ways to Improve Your Relationships with Travel Agents

Jacki Schroder

5 Ways to Improve Your Relationships with Travel Agents_Amadeus Blog Header

In our latest Global Travel Agent Survey, 87% percent of travel agents reported using GDS platforms the same or more often compared to two years ago. Additionally, the total number of hotel bookings on global distribution systems is higher than ever before – almost reaching double what it was in the year 2000. The data shows no signs of GDS bookings slowing down, with the latest projections expecting this year to be another record year.

That’s great news! Bookings from the GDS tend to have higher ADRs and more potential for repeat business once guests have a great experience at your property.

When it comes to performing well on the global distribution systems, it’s critical to think about your relationships with travel agents and agencies. You’ve likely been nurturing some of these relationships for years, but if you want to take your GDS performance to the next level, you need to continuously expand your influence with agencies booking through the channel.

With the continued growth of global distribution systems, it’s time to think about how you can improve your performance in this channel by improving your relationships with travel agents.

GDS Historical Year Over Year Performance

GDS Historical Year over Year Performance

1. View Detailed Insight into Your Agent Relationships.

Reliable data is the foundation that allows us to “work smarter, not harder.” Start by looking at the booking data from all four GDS platforms for your GDS Advertising campaigns, specific promotions, and individual agency performance. Then widen your analysis to your broader geographical area. What price patterns are you seeing? Which price points have the highest volume? These questions are the start to your property being a top performer on the GDS channel.

Next, review your existing relationships with agencies and agents. Assess who is currently booking your property, how often, and what kind of business they are booking. Make sure to include an analysis of the top corporate agencies booking into your market so you can nurture your existing relationships and identify new prospects to reach out to. Have your team reflect on the strategies that have been most impactful for building relationships with agents in the past. Don’t forget to share what hasn’t worked as well so that you can improve in the future.

2. Uncover Agents Booking Your Competitive Set.

Now that you’ve revisited which agencies are booking with you, do you know which agencies are booking most often with your competitive set? Start by revisiting your competitive set. The debate of “which hotels should be in my competitive set?” should be an active one. Consider having multiple competitive sets to make sure you are consistently gathering a variety of inputs and making the most strategic decisions – geolocation, pricing, and star ratings are among the criteria you should consider.

Next, you’ll want to do your research on which agents are booking with your competition. Once you have that list, you can use comprehensive agency profiles with contact information to reach out and begin to establish relationships with agents booking into your competitive set. As you continue to expand your outreach, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire better-rated business at a lower cost.

Also consider targeting new agencies on the global distribution systems by finding non-negotiable and international travel agents who cannot be found on other websites or channels.

3. Establish Rate Integrity.

For any given search, a travel agent can see dozens – if not hundreds – of hotels in the GDS display. The most prevalent request from travel agents is to have a rate they can book with confidence, so stating all of the cancellation and commission policies clearly is imperative to success.

As hoteliers, we also need to put ourselves in the shoes of the travel agent. We need to be mindful that they are providing a service based on guest experience and that experience includes saving their customer money. As always, it’s important to be in rate parity, as 45% of agents in the Global Travel Agent Survey said they will book elsewhere if they can find a better rate.

It’s also important to be in content parity, making sure the offers and amenities you have on the GDS are consistent with what you’re offering on other channels.

4. Prospect for Group Business.

Group business provides a sense of predictability compared to transient business, even when it’s less profitable. Similarly, local negotiated rate business is often considered “guaranteed pick up,” so you can be smarter about forecasting and setting prices for your other segments. If you’re not dedicating time in your GDS strategy to prospecting for group and local negotiated rate business, now is the time to change that.

With the information you’ve uncovered in your research so far, look at what agencies are most actively looking for group business and which properties they’re favoring for those RFPs. Whether it’s an agent you already have a relationship or not, this new information will help you better pitch your group business offering. Come next RFP season, agents may just have a new favorite property to turn to!

5. Refocus Your GDS Advertising.

Advertising on the GDS can be highly effective, catching the eyes of agents in just the right place at the right time. Look at your current strategy for advertising on the GDS. Are you making the best decisions about when to advertise? Are you targeting the right segment of agents likely to book with your property? Do you know how much your property should spend on advertising within each GDS platform? Of course, no paid advertising campaign is successful without ongoing monitoring and optimization.

Invest in GDS Advertising with Media Campaign Managers, who are dedicated to the GDS channel and plan campaigns designed to increase bookings across all four GDS platforms.

 

By uncovering more information about travel agents and agencies booking into your market, you can significantly improve your global distribution system channel performance. At TravelClick, we can help you take your GDS performance to the next level. We’re actively working on new ways to give you the tools you need to make the smartest decisions on this channel.

Hotels that purchase GDS Advertising through TravelClick will now receive complimentary access to an on-demand reporting dashboard to view campaign performance results for the duration of the campaign. The GDS Advertising tab provides robust, advanced analytics: performance by PCC, top source markets, arrivals by day of the week, and more. And when you combine Agency360® with your GDS Advertising, you can access to all historical and forward-looking bookings in less than two minutes.

Contact your TravelClick salesperson for access to limited time offers for both GDS Advertising and Agency360, or to learn more about when your property’s new GDS Advertising reporting will be activated.