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Global Distribution System (GDS) – What it is and What You Need to Know

Ever wondered how the travel industry works? You probably may not be aware of how your online flight or hotel room reservations take place when you make such requests, either online or by visiting the person that offers these services. These operations are actually carried out with the help of computer-run system software that not only provides information, but you can also purchase products and services from companies through this technology.

In this blog, we are going to provide you with a detailed review of what is a global distribution system(GDS) in the travel industry and how it functions.

What is a Global Distribution System (GDS) in Travel?

Generally speaking, a Global Distribution System (GDS) can be defined as a computerized network that allows travel industry service providers, which include airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and travel agencies to facilitate transactions with each other in real time.

Thus, a GDS is an electronic system that can provide information to service providers (airlines, hotels, and car rental companies) on bookings and rates of products and services, such as airline reservations, hotel reservations, and car rentals to and from airports and/or hotels.

The car rental companies service ground transportation to and from airports and hotels. While travel agencies include both online travel agencies, such as Priceline, CheapOair, Expedia, Kayak, Tripadvisor, and more, and also physical travel agencies that have their offices located in different regions in various cities.

A company that renders services in the travel industry can own and/or operate a GDS that relies on a real-time inventory via computerized operations. A few examples of a GDS include services, such as seats available on flights, how many rental cars are available, or the availability of rooms in hotels.

The first ever electronic GDS platform was started back in the 1960s in partnership with IBM and American Airlines. Google flight also uses this system.

How is GDS Different from a Computer Reservations System (CRS)?

Although a Global Distribution System, or GDS, is a computerised network platform, it is not the same as a Computer Reservations System or CRS.

While a GDS is geared towards various services providers in the travel industry, like airline companies, hotels, car rental companies, and travel agencies, a CRS, on the other hand, is a reservation system that is primarily used by vendors (or service providers) that provide such services to their customers.

For example, the customers of a GDS are the travel agencies that make flight reservations for individual and group travellers on various reservation systems that are actually provided by their original vendors, such as an airline company’s website.

How Many Types of GDS are There?

There are several electronic Global Distribution Systems available today. These include the following in alphabetical order:

Abacus GDS

Abacus Global Distribution System provides travel solutions and services to many travel agencies and hotels, mainly in the Asia Pacific region.

Amadeus GDS

Amadeus GDS has been in existence for more than three decades, helping various service providers in travel industry (airlines, railways, tour operators, hotels, travel agencies etc.) operate their business efficiently and also, make travel experience much better.

Apollo GDS

Apollo Global Distribution System provides services to many travel companies, like travel agencies, travel websites, travel suppliers and corporations, etc. around the world.

Galileo GDS

Galileo Global Distribution System has been in existence since the 1970s. A group of airline companies created this GDS platform in order to improve their business and market share.

Pegasus GDS

Pegasus Global Distribution System is widely used by hotels. The system provides services, like electronic processing, distribution, management, rates, sales and marketing of hotel inventory etc. They use different channels for direct bookings via websites, over the phone and also through travel agents.

Sabre GDS

Sabre Global Distribution System is owned by American Airlines. It is a very popular solutions tool for many online travel agencies.

Worldspan GDS

Worldspan Global Distribution System is another popular solutions tool for the online travel business. It provides services globally to hundreds and thousands of travel companies, which include travel agencies, travel suppliers, travel websites, and corporations.

How Does a Global Distribution System Function in Travel Industry?

A Global Distribution System (GDS) can be related to computer software that not only stores information, it can also be used to retrieve such information by service providers. For example, when an end-customer purchases an airline reservation from a travel agency (online or physical office), the travel agency fetches details on seat availability, travel date, price etc. from this GDS software.

Thus, the primary function of a GDS is to deliver data or information in real time. This makes it a lot easier and time-saving, for instance, for travel agents to provide you with the necessary details about your flight reservation, along with hotel accommodation, if you have made one, within minutes. But, that’s not all! This electronic system also provides useful alerts to service providers when using the software, which can include promotional packages, special rates for products and services, time-limited sales etc., so they can offer these to their end customers and make some profit.

Today, GDS is used by hundreds and thousands of travel service providers around the world and makes the entire process hassle-free.

Conclusion – Global Distribution System (GDS)

Today, the GDS is used widely by numerous service providers in the travel industry, and the electronic system also helps market their business, and services and earn revenue.

So, whenever you make your next flight or hotel reservation, whether online or through the company that provides such services, you will be able to easily guess how it all works.

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