20.09.2016

What Characterizes a Converting GDS Description?

Amidst all discussions about increasing direct website business, driving conversion rates up and lowering OTA distribution costs, GDS business is sometimes left behind. GDS corporate bookings are often of great value for the hotel’s distribution mix for several reasons:

  • Business travelers generate frequent stays, also due to corporate policies
  • Distribution costs on net rates are generally lower as opposed to OTAs
  • Corporate guests spend on convenience e.g., order room service or visit the restaurant

Although some corporate travel is booked via OTAs (e.g., via HRS in Germany) and increasingly via the sharing economy including Airbnb, GDSs clearly remain the preferred corporate client booking channel.

So, the question is: What keeps hotels from improving their GDS presentation on a regular basis? Keeping content fresh and targeted is time consuming and requires experience. For the decision-making process of the booker (travel agent), GDS content must be presented precisely on the spot i.e., brief, clear and relevant.

For increasing GDS bookings, your content display should consider the following:

  • Correct IATA and geo-coding, making the property visible for travel agents
  • Rate display must follow a clear and appealing strategy
  • Special contracted (secured) rates must be available at the right time e.g., January 1st
  • Correct loading of secured rate value and contracted amenities e.g., breakfast, free WiFi, etc.
  • Rate and room type descriptions should follow a consistent, easy-to-grasp information structure (travel agents like it brief)
  • Room size and bed types should be included in the room description
  • Rate rules section (cancellation/penalty policy) should comply with general property cancellation information
  • Rate descriptions targeting travel agencies must include important details (e.g., WiFi) without exceeding GDS character limits
  • NTM rating (Sabre and Worldspan) in the U.S. is important and needs to match the property’s star rating
  • Distance indicators to include the major points of interest
  • Correct search criteria e.g., for travel agencies filtering hotels by business facilities (wrong/missing content results in hotel invisibility for filtered search requests)

H2c’s lessons learnt from hundreds of GDS content updates:

  1. Properties normally have no GDS (system) access, resulting in both the unawareness of incorrect/missing content and the inability to fix it.
  2. Some GDS content is updated manually and some is automatically transmitted via the CRS. Some fields contain dynamic content others are static content. It is a training issue to make users aware of the meaning of the different content fields and how they translate to the GDSs (i.e., some characters are not accepted and look skewed on the GDSs).
  3. Each GDS uses different content fields, complicating necessary updates for hoteliers.
  4. Hotel staff fluctuation is often high, and sometimes CRS training is dated. Both can lead to the delayed implementation of required content amendments.

High quality content is important, but time-to-market is also a key prerequisite for driving conversion as well as effective reporting including GDS content quality scores (e.g., which search criteria were relevant by property and by travel agency/implant booking?). Better knowledge of these criteria usually increases the hotel’s willingness to amend content fields rather sooner than later.

View the Belmond Hotels Case Study, showing the benefits of h2c’s content checks.

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