There are two channels that travel agents use more than in the past - none other than the GDS and hotel/chain websites, reveals a study.
Market research company Phoenix Marketing International and Travelclick [read: Travelclick boosting revenue, staff] surveyed more than 650 travel agents (from 34 countries) worldwide that use Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan.
Here are some of the key observations from the project:
Usage of GDS and hotel direct bookings on the rise
The percentage of travel agents using GDS has increased by 14% from 2011. Whereas the usage of hotel/chain website increased 3%.
Use of all other channels (including other agent booking tools, call to hotel, travel websites, hotel directories and direct mail/fax) reduced significantly by 21% over the past two years.
Jason Ewell, executive vice president for business intelligence, media and web solutions for TravelClick, says:
“The GDS is more popular with travel agents than ever. This year the GDS is on pace to produce 58 million hotel reservations, up 5 million from 2011. As key influencers in booking decisions, hotels need to merchandise themselves to travel agents at the point of sale through the GDS.”
Rate parity impacts hotel bookings in GDS
Over four out of five (81%) of agents stated that rate parity is very important in their day-to-day work, with 62% stating that they would book away from hotel properties that do not offer full rate parity within the GDS.
Ewell further explains:
"There is nothing worse for an agent than offering a rate to clients only to learn that they could find a better rate by themselves on a different channel."
NB: More on rate parity - Article 1, Article 2.
Rates - Make or break decisions
Hotel amenities still influence travel agent behavior
- 60% of respondents said that they will book a hotel room based on best available or promotional message over any other factor.
- Number of travel agents offering their clients alternatives to negotiated rates increased 21% from 2011 to 2013.
- 53% indicated that a promotional message was the reason why they booked one negotiated rate over another negotiated rate. Promotional messages from GDS Advertising clearly influence bookings.
Respondents stated that hotel amenities were critical in making a booking decision. Most popular amenities were (each at 79%): Free internet and free breakfast.
The study says that beyond offering competitive pricing, hotel should also offer value added amenities in order to generate bookings from travel agents.
NB: Travel agent image via Shutterstock.