Capturing Travel Agent GDS Bookings in Challenging Times - TravelClick

Capturing Travel Agent GDS Bookings in Challenging Times

Sarah Darling

Travel agents are a highly qualified audience searching for the best deal for their customer – a guest with confirmed intent to travel.

While the travel industry faces ongoing challenges from COVID-19, travel agents will play a key role in connecting hotels and travelers, especially given the flexibility and changes that may be required of travelers in the coming months.

This positions travel agents as an especially valuable resource. They are experts in handling issues like flight cancellations or a sudden rebooking to give peace of mind to leisure travelers, while helping businesses more effectively manage and update corporate travel bookings and policies for safety and compliance.

To best capture the travel agent audience, use global distribution systems.

Even through this period of uncertainty, global distribution systems have consistently remained one of the highest ADR channels. And travel agents have some excellent reasons to keep booking hotels through these systems:

  • They earn a commission. Travel agents get a meaningful fee when booking “commissionable rates”– income, which helps cover their operating costs.
  • It’s more convenient. Booking a client’s flight, hotel, and car at once streamlines the buying process. It keeps all the traveler’s reservation information together in one record, simplifying the agent’s ability to make changes when needed.
  • It’s more efficient. The average travel agent books 22 times the number of annual hotel reservations compared to the average traveler. One platform to manage one itinerary is helpful – one platform to manage multiple itineraries is a necessity.

Optimizing your presence on global distribution systems, like Amadeus’, and boosting your visibility is essential to connecting with and winning bookings from the travel agent audience.

Put your best available rate (BAR) forward – but don’t forget qualified rates.

Ensure travel agents have access to qualified rates for specific demographics by considering special promotions for first responders, health care workers, business travelers, government officials, and the local market.

For hotels offering special rates to health care workers, Amadeus has established a special rate code within our global distribution system that waives transaction fees for hotel accommodation providers or travel agencies booking on behalf of eligible medical workers. This will help streamline the overall booking process, and most importantly provide support to medical caregivers.

Make sure you’re in rate parity across all channels.

That includes rates on your website, metasearch, all global distribution systems, and online travel agencies. Rate parity is important to 89% of travel agents worldwide – if they see a better rate elsewhere, they’ll actively book away from your property.

For more strategies to identify and resolve rate parity issues, download our eBook: The Rate Parity Playbook

Optimize your hotel description (HOD) to make sure travel agents booking in your area don’t miss your hotel

Breadth, depth, and quality of content on your hotel’s profile and placing advertisements on global distribution systems are the key to appearing at the top of searches and giving travel agents the information they need to book with confidence.  Make sure your cancellation policies are current and include any updates on what is happening in your local market.

Make sure your property is correctly geocoded or indexed.

Travel agents won’t book your hotel unless they see that you’re in proximity to the traveler’s destination. Evaluate the local attractions and establishments that you have listed as near your property – are they up-to-date and relevant? Is there anything that needs to be added or changed?

Evaluate your photos.

Use vivid pictures of the property itself that showcase its unique differentiators and characteristics – but make sure all images are sensitive to the situation.

Update any modified or additional hotel services and amenities.

Ensure that travel agents (and their clients) know exactly what to expect when they get to your hotel. Proactively communicate how you are addressing the top of mind concerns for today’s travelers. Include any deep cleaning, sanitation procedures, or social distancing measures that you’ve implemented to ensure guest safety. Be sure to clearly outline any ADA accessibility information to address the needs of all prospective guests.

Revise cancellation, flexible rate, and rebooking policies for impacted travelers.

Make sure the policies are consistent across all channels. Policies that encourage travelers to rebook will help you keep long-term business.

List your commission policy.

Show travel agents how they’ll benefit from booking your hotel. 10% is the industry standard.

What is most important to travel agents booking hotels on global distribution systems?

NORAMLATAMEMEA APAC
Property rating and photos59%57%53%58%
Hotel Services57%54%52%51%
Hotel Amenities65%45%45%46%
Policy information53%36%43%30%
Attractions/Points of Interest28%34%33%45%
Other12%15%8%10%

Source: 2019 Global Travel Agent GDS Report

Embrace advertising to boost visibility with travel agents looking to book

Advertising doesn’t just build visibility – it allows you to immediately show travel agents why they should book your property over other hotels in the area.

Ad spend via global distribution systems is only used when an impression is delivered to a travel agent actively searching for a property in your market. Hotels that implement robust targeting and messaging practices can still see a reasonable return on ad spend (ROAS) on this channel.

  • Identify and target your top source markets: Which segments still have active bookings in your market? Which channels are still driving business into your market? Is there an increase in demand from new markets who may view your destination as an alternative? Has there been a pickup in local bookings?
  • Select promotion dates that are 90 days in the future: If your market has present travel restrictions, keep an eye on demand, and focus spend on times when there is true intent to travel.
  • Focus messaging on cleanliness and safety: The concerns of the traveler are the concerns of the travel agent. Make sure your messaging is created to address and help alleviate their worries.

GDS isn’t the only type of marketing that can help.

This crisis marketing series is built to help you navigate this pandemic and provide useful, practical information that you can start implementing today.

Up Next: Win Guest Loyalty with Your COVID-19 Communication Strategy

For more insight on travel agent buying behavior and how to market your hotel more effectively on the GDS channel, download our 2019 global report.

We also have a full library of crisis management resources to help your hotel build a recovery plan. Get access here.

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