This year will be a record year for hotel bookings made by travel agents in the GDS channel, a new study by TravelClick predicts.
Based on the study, which surveyed more than 900 travel agents in 52 countries, and on TravelClick’s own data, it forecasts that agents will make 68 million hotel reservations in the Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport systems this year, surpassing 2016’s total by 2 million.
Half of the agents surveyed said they are using the GDS more often than they were two years ago.
They also are paying attention to hotels’ marketing efforts: More than two-thirds said they are aware of GDS promotional text messages, up from 65% in 2015.
But at the same time, 70% of the agents surveyed also reported they will book a great hotel offer regardless of advertising screen type.
While travel agents may be influenced by hotels’ promotions, they also seem to wield some power when it comes to hotels.
John Hach, senior industry analyst at TravelClick, said average daily rates generated through travel agents are on the rise. “Hoteliers have ample opportunity to generate incremental revenue and maximize revenue per available room (RevPAR) through the power of the GDS,” he said.
Travel agents around the world remain virtually unanimous in their belief that GDS systems should offer rate parity, and 63% said they use their power by actively booking away from hotels that do not offer their best rates within the GDS.
Travel agents remain loyal to hotels that distribute through the GDSs, Hach said. Despite the rise of alternative accommodations such as Airbnb, they exhibit a strong preference for booking through the GDS rather than a website, he said.
That’s a benefit for hoteliers, who have access to “a proven and growing hotel booking audience to help them effectively compete” within the alternative lodging arena.