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Online Channels & Global Distribution System : Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels.

.(Research Project)........

By :NIHIT SRIVASTAVA (Batch C ) AYUSHYA MUKUL (Batch A)

Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The special thank goes to our helpful Front Office Lecturer, Mrs. Anjali Gopalakrishnan. The supervision and support that she gave truly help the progression and smoothness of this Project. The co-operation is much indeed appreciated.

We would also like to thank our friends especially those who lended their wise ideas throughout the project, namely Aryaman, Anshul & Pranay and also for their encouragement, support and help us in completing this project successfully.

Last but not the least, we would like to mention a thanks to our parents, without whose financial aid, this project wouldnt have been possible.

Nihit Srivastava - C Ayushya Mukul - A

Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels

OBJECTIVE

The basic objective of this project is to make research about diversifications of Global Distribution System (GDS), collect relevant data from different Online Travel Agents (OTA) and hotels on GDS. The collected data could vary from the use of GDS to the revenue generated from them at different spots to the future scope of the Travel industry with GDS. We need to analyze those data and present an overall conclusion on the basis of those analyses.

Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels

CONTENTS

Introduction: The Founding Fathers of Travel E-Commerce..5 The Origins of Travel Automation..7 The GDSs Today 9 The Role of the GDSs in the Global Travel Industry...12 GDS Share of Total Travel Sales by Region.13 GDS Share of Total Travel Sales by Product Category.....19 The Heart of the Travel Intermediary.....23 Leisure Impact: Travelers & Travel Agents..26 Dramatic Shift to Online Distribution..............................................................28 The Direct Online Channel...30 The GDS Travel Agent Channel......31 The Future of the GDS : Overall Scope...36 GDS Outlook 2009-2010....40 Future Research on Accessibility Issues with GDS Data....44 Summary .....46 Data Analysis on Hotels....48 Data Analysis on OTAs....60 Conclusion (Final).72 ANNEXURE I [Questionnaires for Hotels](i) - (v) ANNEXURE II [Questionnaires for OTAs](vi) (x) ANNEXURE III [Key Terms & Definitions].......74 Bibliography...77

Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels

Introduction:
The Founding Fathers of Travel E-Commerce : Evolution of GDS The e-commerce revolution of the 1990s brought about a

breakthrough in business and a deep and lasting transformation in the way consumers research, shop and buy. From music to mortgages, discount toys to high-end electronics, just about anything and everything became available for purchase online. Travel is quite possibly the perfect product for online distribution. Unlike purchasing in most industries, the travel transaction involves the exchange not of physical inventory, but of information. The traveler must choose from hundreds or thousands (or theoretically, billions) of potential products, services and prices that may vary with the slightest adjustment of any number of parameters. Consider, for example, a simple, one-way airplane ticket. That same ticket, for the very same seat on an identical aircraft, could be significantly more or less expensive should the consumer choose to take delivery of the product (i.e., a departure date or time) just a few hours earlier or later. The price for the very same product could also change if the traveler were to make the purchase a day earlier or later. The unique dynamics of travel shopping and buying are ideally suited to the Internet, and the impact of this relatively new medium has been nothing less than spectacular Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 5

The Internet is no longer an emerging channel, but a major and in many cases, primary channel in any travel companys sales and marketing strategy. More than nine in 10 U.S. travelers used the Internet at some point in the travel planning process in 2008. Most people associate the birth of electronic travel distribution with the advent of the Internet and the explosion in e-commerce in the late 1990s. But in fact, electronic commerce in travel pre-dates the dotcom boom by some three decades and had become quite commonplace by the mid-1980s. The technology systems powering electronic travel commerce were then referred to as CRSs, or computerized reservation systems. They were the predecessors of todays global distribution systems, or GDS. As the GDS industry continued to evolve in the 1990s, the availability of public interfaces to these systems greatly expanded, particularly with the rollout of the Internet and World Wide Web. As a result, consumers gained unprecedented access to information concerning price, travel times and schedules. Today, airlines no longer have an ownership interest in GDS and the regulation provided by the USDOT is expired. There are currently four major GDS in operation, Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan, all of which provide real-time flight information to travel agents and consumers. The public interfaces to the GDS can be categorized in the following way: 1) airline websites; 2) GDS-based online travel agencies such as Travelocity, Expedia Travel and Orbitz; 3) opaque sites that require some type of bid/payment before knowing the actual travel schedule such as Priceline; 4) specialty low-fare sites which are analogous to a tip-sheet for selected bargains; and 5) screen-scraper sites which actually Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 6

reads fare information from the screens of other sites and reports them to the consumer. The Origins of Travel Automation The first electronic travel booking did not take place on Expedia, Travelocity, or the Web site of any major airline or hotel company. No travel companies had Web sites, nor had anyone conceived of an interactive travel agency, when the Semi-Automated Business Research Environment (SABRE) first came online in 1964. The joint creation of American Airlines and IBM, SABRE was the first of many airline-owned and -operated CRSs. At first, these systems were created for use at the airlines internal reservations centers. But carriers quickly realized the opportunity for deploying their systems in travel agencies. Delivering accurate schedules, fares, availability and booking capability instantly at the point-of-sale would extend the efficiencies gained internally to the travel agency distribution channel. Airlines that had more control over the travel agents desktop were in a far stronger position to influence flight selection and move market share. By 1985, U.S. travel agency sales had risen to $54 billion. More than nine in 10 agencies with sales greater than $1 million had a CRS (versus just 6% not even a decade earlier). Agency revenue had surged 400% over the same period, while agency employment increased by only 20%. By the late 1990s, CRSs had evolved into four large companies known as global distribution systems. They served as a critical nexus of distribution, bringing together hundreds of thousands of travel agents and other distributors with thousands of travel suppliers. The GDS provided access Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 7

Figure: Overview of the Major GDS Companies in 2009*

to not only content from their founding airlines, but from nearly all major airlines and other travel categories as well, such as hotels, car rentals, package tours and cruises. They served as both the major distribution outlet for airlines and the primary booking medium for travel agencies: Amadeus was formed through a consortium of major European airlines and System One, the original CRS of Eastern Airlines. Galileo evolved from the merger of the Apollo CRS (created by United Airlines) and the Galileo CRS (founded by a competing consortium of European airlines); it is now a part of Travel port. Sabre emerged from the original SABRE CRS and other technology divisions within American Airlines. Worldspan resulted from the merg er of the TWA PARS CRS and the Delta Air Lines DATAS II system; it is now a part of Travelport.

Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels

The GDS Today The GDS have traveled far in the past four-plus decades, going through a variety of mergers, acquisitions and ownership structures. From the late 1990s through the early 2000s, three of the four GDS companies were publicly held (Worldspan was the exception). As of 2009, there are six major global distribution systems and three GDS companies, each owned by private equity investors. The global marketplace three for travel GDS distribution and electronic the critical

reservation processing services is huge, and the GDS reflect this. Together, the major companies power reservations and technology infrastructure of over 163,000 travel agency locations and enable bookings by nearly half a million travel agents around the world. The GDS generated more than $9.6 billion in revenue and more than 1.1 billion transactions7 in 2006 just over 2,100 transactions per minute (and the infrastructure of each GDS can support volumes far greater). The GDS are most often thought of as a distribution environment for airlines; more than 550 airlines and the overwhelming majority of commercial airline fares and inventory are accessible via the GDS. However, they also deliver an ever-expanding array of content to travel agencies through their agency software solutions. More than 90,000 hotel properties, the worlds largest car rental companies, hundreds of tour operators and the major cruise lines also distribute their products to travel agencies via the GDS. The GDS companies continue to add to their Long Tail8 content: Today, GDS-connected travel agencies can also shop and book rail, travel insurance, inOnline Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 9

destination activities and events, vacation and apartment rentals and much more. While airline distribution services remain central to GDS business, each of the GDS companies has expanded well beyond its original mission and is now integral to travel distribution, reservations processing and technology services for the global travel industry. Many travel agencies today use their GDS vendors not just for shopping and booking travel services, but also for mid- and back-office tools (i.e., quality control procedures and accounting), customer management and marketing software, online booking engines for leisure and corporate travel, and other functions. The GDS are also critical to online travel. They have provided shopping, pricing, booking and ticketing services to the online travel agencies since the OTAs founding in the mid-1990s. Worldspan and Expedia jointly developed an air shopping and faring tool that has long been vital to the Expedia.com air shopping path; it is now known as Travelport e-Pricing. Sabre established Travelocity in 1996, now one of the four largest global OTAs. Today, each of the three GDS companies owns one or more OTAs, provides one or more online booking tools to the corporate travel market and offers a range of ecommerce services (from booking engines to fulfillment processes) to travel intermediaries and suppliers alike.

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Figure: Select Aggregated Statistics of the GDS Companies in 2008.

Figure : The Travel Distribution Chain.

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The Role of the GDS in the Global Travel Industry


GDS Share of Total Travel Sales by Region Global View The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projected the global travel economy at just over $4 trillion in personal and business travel and tourism spend and nearly 80.1 million in direct industry employment11 in 2006. The three major GDS companies, with combined revenues approaching $10 billion and approximately 24,000 employees worldwide in the same year, Figure : U.S. Total Travel Market (Gross Bookings) & GDS Share, 2006-2006

may seem just a sliver of that rather large pie. But the GDS serve as an important (and often unseen) global circulatory system for travel information and commerce. Together, the GDS provide valuable technical infrastructure for the vast majority of travel shopping and booking, at more than 163,000 travel agencies worldwide. These travel agencies, both online and Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 12

traditional, directly employ or contract roughly 490,000 individual travel agents. The GDS processed more than 1.1 billion transactions in 2006 for these agencies, representing more than $268 billion in total travel transaction value and 7% of global personal and business travel and tourism demand.

The U.S. Travel Market


The U.S. is the largest travel market in the world, representing nearly $280 billion in direct supplier revenue and nearly $1.1trillion in total personal and business travel consumption in 2006.13 The volume of U.S. travel transactions booked via GDS accounted for well over one third of total U.S. travel since 2006. The GDS processed 449 million transactions for airlines, hotels and car rental companies in 2006, representing $98.7 billion in total travel value. This represented 35% of the total travel market (supplier revenue) and 9% of all personal and business travel consumption in 2006. The reach of the GDS extends throughout the U.S. travel economy and well beyond a conventional economic impact assessment. Roughly 83% of travel agencies rely on a GDS for their core business infrastructure for reservations processing. Most travel agencies value their GDS, which gives them the ability to shop and book across thousands of suppliers in real time, handle payment processing and other fulfillment services on behalf of clients and suppliers, perform customer service functions such as changes, cancellations and reissues, and efficiently manage all of this business activity through direct data feeds from the GDS to the agency mid- and back-office systems. That a single GDS can provide so many services to an agency increases its efficiency.

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Travel agencies provided employment to 86,420 people in the U.S. as of May 2006, representing an aggregate annual payroll in excess of $2.8 billion.15 While these employment and payroll statistics have almost certainly declined since the onset of the economic recession in the U.S. in 2006, travel agencies still play a major part in travel distribution. Another key area of broad and far-reaching economic impact is, of course, the airline industry. A 2006 study by the Federal Aviation Administration projected the 2006 airline industry impact on the U.S. economy at $1.1 trillion in economic output and 10.2 million jobs.16 The GDS make a large proportion of these airline transactions possible. GDS air transactions had a market value of $78 billion in 2006, representing two thirds of all airline passenger revenues. The GDS enable tens of thousands of points-of-sale and drive traveler demand, which cannot help but affect the airlines. Figure : Europe Total Travel Market (Gross Bookings) & GDS Share, 2006-2006

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The European Market


The European travel market is the worlds largest regional travel market in gross bookings. It expanded from 237 billion in 2007 to 246 billion in 2006. GDS companies processed nearly 292 million air, hotel and car rental transactions in 2006, representing more than one fifth of the total European travel market (53 bil lion in gross bookings). Travel booked via a GDS represented 6% of the 857 billion in total personal and business travel consumption in 2008 GDS are just as critical in the European travel economy as they are in the U.S. Travel agencies represent a major point-of-sale for both leisure and business travel sales across Europe a point-of-sale equally enabled by the GDS. In some markets such as Germany, where travel agencies accounted for 47% of the total travel sales in 2008, the impact of the GDS in travel agency bookings extends far beyond air, hotel and car rental reservation processing. The TOMA and Merlin tour booking interfaces from Amadeus and Sabre, respectively, represent a substantial portion of all tour operator package bookings made by travel agents in Germany. Data from the European Travel Agents & Tour Operators Associations indicates that in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K., there are nearly 41,000 travel agencies and tour operators employing some 335,000 people.

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The Asian Market


Marked by a distinct mix of cultures, currencies, languages and business practices, the dynamic nature of Asias travel industry requires businesses to be armed with a good understanding of the local markets, as well as solutions and services that effectively serve the fast changing needs of the regions travellers. There are many GDS that are products of Europe or America. These are very much prevalent in Asian Market too, viz Abacus (South-East Asia), Amadeus, TravelSky (China), Axess (Japan), Infini (Japan) and Topas (South Korea).

Over the decades, Abacus has expanded its footprint to 29 markets and over 20,000 agency locations across Asia. Core to the Abacus business is our constant drive to provide tailored support and service to each individual market. To-date, a total of US$160 million has been invested to develop, localise and enhance solutions to meet the needs of each market.

Abacus International is owned by a consortium of Asia's leading airlines including All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Dragonair, Philippine Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, SilkAir and Singapore Airlines.

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Amadeus India Private Limited was established with the objective of providing IT and software services, developing software products and automated tools, for the travel trade industry including customized software products for travel agents and travel service providers.

Amadeus India has its head office in New Delhi and a wide network of 40 branch offices providing software connectivity to travel agents in the Indian sub-continent to access over 95% of scheduled airline seats as well as hotel rooms, insurance packages, car hire and other travel services worldwide. Amadeus CRS usage has expanded to 200 cities across India, with over 28,676 terminal installations and 9,052 travel agencies online. Of the total CRS usage in the subcontinent, Amadeus CRS is the clear market leader with more than 50% users.

TravelSky Technology Limited is a Chinese State-owned enterprise (SOE) and the dominant provider of IT solutions to China's air travel and tourism industries. Its clients include airlines, airports, air travel suppliers, travel agencies, individual and corporate travel consumers, and cargo services.

The Group's travel distribution network comprises approximately 58 thousand sales terminals owned by more than 6,500 travel agencies or travel service distributors, with high-level networking and direct links to all GDS around the world and 29 foreign and regional commercial airlines through SITA networks, covering over 400 domestic and Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 17

overseas cities. The Group rendered technology support and localised services to travel agencies and travel service distributors through more than 30 local distribution centers across China and four overseas distribution centers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

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GDS Share of Total Travel Sales by Product Category


Airline Despite the rise in consumer bookings via airline Web sites over the past decade, the GDS continue to represent the majority of air travel. They processed more than 376 million air transactions in the U.S. in 2006, representing nearly two thirds, or 64%, of all airline passenger revenue. The GDS command a smaller but still substantial share of total airline sales in Europe. They processed more than 276 million air transactions in 2006; representing 49 billion and 47% of total air sales. GDS share of sales declined more quickly in Europe following the surge in growth among low-cost carriers (and some tour operator charter airlines), which have largely pursued a consumer-direct distribution model. Hotel & Car Rental The GDS play a far smaller but still considerable role in hotel and carrental distribution segments of the travel industry in which the majority of bookings are handled over the phone or in person, usually directly with the local hotel property or car rental location. The GDS processed 39.3 million hotel transactions and nearly 33 million car rental transactions in the U.S. in 2006, representing 12% and 29% of those travel sectors, respectively. Cumulative non-air product sales via GDS reached nearly $18 billion. In Europe, the hotel market is much more fragmented than in the U.S., and the majority of hotels are independent, small properties Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 19

unaffiliated with larger hotel brands (and centralized branding and distribution services). GDS penetration of the European hotel market was just 4% in 2006. In the car rental sector, GDS accounted for only 7% of all transactions. Combined, GDS processed 3.7 billion in hotel and car rental transactions in Europe in 2006.

Figure : U.S. Airline Gross Sales & GDS Share, 2006-2008

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Figure : European Airline Gross Sales & GDS Share, 2006-2008

Figure : U.S. Hotel Room Revenue & GDS Share, 2006-2008

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Figure : U.S. Car Rental Revenue & GDS Share, 2006-2008

Figure: European Hotel Room Revenue & GDS Share, 2006-2008

Figure: European Car Rental Revenue & GDS Share, 2006-2008

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The Heart of the Travel Intermediary


This section examines the role of the GDS in the shopping and purchasing processes of travelers and travel agencies, and analyzes GDS impact on both online and offline points-of-sale for the leisure and corporate travel markets. Intermediaries have long been central to travel distribution. The travel industry is comprised of many thousands of travel suppliers across air, lodging, ground transportation, cruise, in-destination activities and other services. This adds up to an immeasurable volume of travel products and options, and intermediaries have provided a critical service by enabling and guiding consumers to shop, select and purchase in such a large and dynamic marketplace. By aggregating content and information from this incalculable universe of supply, intermediaries experience. Although travel suppliers have increased their sales directly to consumers over the past decade, traditional travel agents and OTAs continue to represent a major share (just under half) of all travel sales in the U.S. in 2006. Intermediaries play an even larger role in travels more complex segments, where either the nature of the product itself or the consumer selection process presents more demand for the informational and consultative services they offer. Travel agencies (both online and traditional) account for a significant majority of the air, tour and cruise revenue in the U.S. In the case of cruise and tour products typically associated with vacation travel and larger per-trip expenditure travel agencies play an important, consultative role in the product selection decision for Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 23 empower consumer selection, allowing would-be travelers to shop thousands of suppliers in a single and efficient

travelers. For example, the multiple steps of a cruise purchase especially for the first-time cruiser can be daunting. They can include not only the itinerary, schedule and price, but also considerations such as the cruise line, the ship, cabin type, dinner seating, shore excursions, onboard activities and services and pre- and post-cruise transportation. OTAs have indicated that a substantial portion of their cruise sales are actually completed over the phone. When compared to the decisions a traveler must make for a more expensive, multi-component vacation package or cruise, shopping and booking flights seems The retail relatively agencies simple with and certainly more to commonplace. valuable access

comprehensive schedule, fare and availability information, plus the ability to shop, book, process and fulfill travel for their customers. The GDS processed $98.7 billion in travel agency and OTA bookings in 2006, representing 72% of the nearly $137 billion in travel booked through intermediaries. GDS share of traditional travel agencies is higher at 75%.

Figure: U.S. Travel Market Gross Bookings and Share by Travel Intermediaries (OTAs and Travel Agencies) and Consumer Direct, 2006-2008. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 24

Figure: Intermediaries Share of U.S. Air, Tour and Cruise Revenue, 2008

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Leisure Impact: Travelers & Travel Agents The sheer volume of air travel supply (flights and fares) and demand (passenger traffic) generates a large, complex and fast-changing buffet of choice in which price, information and user experience are the most influential elements in the consumer selection process. In the leisure travel market and especially in the recessionary economic climate of 2009 price trumps all other considerations. While six in 10 U.S. travelers say price drives their choice of Web sites when shopping for travel, previous positive experience and wide selection of product options and information are also important to 58% and 40% of travelers, respectively. It is not surprising, then, that online travel agencies are the most popular resource for leisure travelers. More U.S. travelers cite OTAs (38%) as their usual purchase channel for air than any other channel, including airline Web sites. This may appear to conflict with Figure, which indicates that booking directly with suppliers accounts for 51% of all travel sales in 2008. Supplier Web sites did account for a larger share of all online travel sales in the U.S. in 2008 (61% of online gross bookings). However, supplier Web sites and OTAs appeal to different segments of the traveler population: OTAs are most popular with infrequent leisure travelers, who also tend to be younger and more budget-conscious. Supplier sites are preferred by more frequent, loyal, and older travelers, who also tend to spend more per trip. So while OTAs have more traveler share, supplier Web sites have more trip and wallet share.

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While many factors drive the popularity of OTAs, a central component of their customer proposition is offering a user experience that enables travelers to efficiently shop and compare products, schedules and prices across many suppliers. Price-sensitive leisure shoppers can conveniently consider schedules and pricing in a single online retail session, and the OTAs have continued to introduce innovations to improve this experience.

Unintended Channel Share Loss Not all bookings are created equal, and when planning their distribution strategy, hoteliers should realize the existence of The Law of Unintended Channel Share Loss which states: Any booking via a more discounted channel (such as flash sales sites like Groupon, LivingLocal.com or SniqueAway.com) is one less booking for the same hotel via the hotel website, call center, GDS or OTA (in that order).

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Dramatic Shift To Online Distribution Voice and GDS travel agent, the traditional hotel reservation channels, have experienced consistent declines over the past 16 years. The eTRAK quarterly benchmarking report, which summarizes booking data from the top 30 hotel chains worldwide, illustrates well the significant shift from traditional to online channels: Internet reservations: In Q3 2010, Internet bookings for the top 30 hotel brands reached 56.9% of the total brand CRS bookings (eTRAK Report). This constitutes a major share increase compared to the 37.6% level back in 2006. GDS travel agent reservations: Share of GDS travel agent reservations dipped to one of its lowest points only 19.6% of total brand CRS reservations. So, there was a clear shift from the GDS to the online channel. This is a major share decline compared to the 2006 level of 31.3%. Voice channel reservations: In Q3 2010, voice channel contribution amounted to 23.5% of total brand CRS bookings, compared to 31.3% back in 2006. Since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008, a number of very important developments occurred that profoundly changed hotel distribution and customer engagement in hospitality: The hyper-interactive consumer: Over the past several years, a new breed of hyper-interactive travel consumers who are todays main hotel customers has emerged. The advent of social media and the mobile Web has accelerated the hyper-interactiveness of Internet users and travel consumers in general. Social media: Engaging your customers via social marketing has become not only the norm, but is expected by Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 28

past, current and future hotel guests. Mobile Web: The mobile channel has become an important distribution channel worldwide. Hotel guests are already mobile-ready, and hoteliers have to respond adequately to this growing demand. Channel convergence: Todays hyperinteractive travel consumers are seeing marketing messages across a variety of channels. Now more than ever, there is a convergence of new and traditional digital formats, of interactive and offline marketing channels. Multi-channel marketing: Hoteliers need to reach future and current customers at multiple points. Unleashing a promotional campaign simultaneously across all available marketing channels produces a compounded effect and far greater returns than each individual marketing format.

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The Direct Online Channel Why arent hoteliers investing more in the direct online channel? In addition to the obvious reason that selling your hotel via OTAs is the lazy mans approach to distribution, some hoteliers assume that selling through OTAs is free. (Case study #1, right, proves that is not the case.) Independent hotels are overwhelmed by the rapid shift from offline to online distribution and the sheer dynamics of the online channel and often fail to compete for their fair share of the market. There is a lack of understanding that Internet marketing is not an expense, but an investment with immediate returns at very high ROIs. Franchised properties believe that the major hotel brands take care of the Internet for them, and they miss serious local revenue-generating opportunities.

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The GDS Travel Agent Channel


Though the number of travel agency locations has decreased drastically, this channel still generated 19.6% of all CRS bookings for the top 30 hotel brands in 2010, according to eTRAK. Many hotels totally ignore this channel. Often hotel websites do not even pretend to position the hotel as travel agent-friendly. Frequently hotel and room descriptions on the GDS were last updated in the previous century. Many hotels do not have any travel agent marketing initiatives.

The Mobile Channel


HeBS research and other industry sources show that in 2010, 1.5% to 2.5% of visitors to hotel websites came from mobile devices. Last year travel suppliers and OTAs reported a dramatic increase in mobile bookings, and Google saw a 3,000% increase in hotel mobile searches compared to 2009. In 2011, independent or franchised hotels and resorts as well as multiproperty hotel companies should focus on enhancing their mobile websites, improving mobile user experience, increasing discoverability via mobile search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) and making their mobile sites more interactive via mobile social media initiatives,sweepstakes and contests.

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Social media
Lets set the record straight: Social media is not a distribution channel in hospitality. Social media is a customer engagement channel. There is no doubt that social media has changed how travel consumers research and plan travel, access travel information and perceive its credibility. Internet users are increasingly influenced by social networks and peer reviews. With a comprehensive social media strategy, hoteliers can create social media buzz, target receptive audiences and stimulate hotel website visits, interactions and bookings. Social marketing is becoming a larger component of hotels marketing mix and part of the comprehensive direct online channel strategy. Naturally, it is important to use the right ROI metrics to Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 32

measure the success of social marketing efforts. Social media and social marketing initiatives should be reviewed within the context of the impact of a hotels multi-channel marketing strategy.

Flash sales sites


Flash sales sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial or SniqueAway are not a new and revolutionary distribution channel, and many believe flash sale sites are a recessionary phenomenon. To participate, hotels are required to sell rooms on these sites at more than a 50% discount. A recent Groupon sale for a Hyatt Regency in Chicago offered a discount of 62%. In addition, flash sales sites charge fees from 25% to 35% from the already discounted rate. With travel demand rising, the quality of service providers using flash sales sites today has deteriorated immensely, constituting massage parlors, yoga studios, salsa dance classes and desperate restaurants.

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GDS response: Recognizing the potential threat to intermediaries,


the GDSs took steps to stem the fragmentation of content across multiple points-of-sale. In 2002 and 2003, most airlines and GDSs reached new distribution agreements that provided access to full content, which covered Web fares, for OTAs and travel agencies. In return, the GDSs offered discounts on supplier segment fees and reduced the incentives they in turn paid to travel agencies. The GDSs and airlines reached broad consensus again in 2006 with a series of distribution agreements (primarily in the U.S. market) that led to full content in exchange for significant discounts in the supplier segment fees (and, necessarily, a reduction in the inducements) GDSs paid to travel agencies. Although GDSs have come a long way in closing the content gaps since the proliferation of Web fares, full content remains elusive. Several airlines, such as Southwest, for example, do not participate fully in all GDSs in all markets, either withholding certain fares or limiting their level of participation so that some GDS users do not have true, realtime access to fares and availability. Other airlines, most notably Ryanair one of Europes largest carriers do not participate in the GDS channel at all. As a result, even though travel agencies prefer the GDSs for booking air, most intermediaries must rely on the Internet as well. More than one in three leisure travel agents and one in five corporate travel agents cite the Internet and airline Web sites as usual booking methods in addition to their GDS, and over 90% of agencies use the Internet as well as their GDS when sourcing airfares. Many travel agencies in the corporate sector have invested in and integrated thirdOnline Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 34

party tools into their mid-office procedures to conduct automated scans of travel Web sites to ensure significantly lower fares were not missed during the time when the reservation was originally booked.

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The Future of the GDS : Overall Scope


Todays travel consumer is exposed to and engaged by so many snippets of information coming from all directions that they live in a perpetual digital information cloud. Consumers no longer keep track of where exactly they have been exposed to information or marketing content. They no longer care what format the information or content they have been exposed to is in (email, tweet, Facebook post), and they no longer differentiate between media channels and content formats. As a result, the travel consumer has become channel- and format-agnostic. In other words, the convergence of marketing/media channels and the new hyper-interactive travel consumer has lead to the emergence of one single customer engagement channel. This new channel demands a completely new approach to hotel marketing and distribution. Mastering the direct online channel and all of its segments traditional Web, SEM, SEO, email, social media, mobile Web is a crucial step in this direction. Airlines have aggressively grown their share of direct online distribution from less than 3% of all passenger revenue in 1999 to more than 30% in 2008 in the U.S. Full content remains the goal for travel intermediaries; several airlines continue to withhold all or some fares from the GDSs. The GDSs have adapted to airline direct sales growth and the risk of content fragmentation by introducing new financial models for airlines and travel agencies, bringing the cost of distribution down for airlines since 2002. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 36

The rise in a la carte sales and optional services among airlines threatens to further fragment content and disadvantage downstream intermediaries and points-of-sale by making true all-in and inclusive price comparisons for consumers more difficult.

The GDSs are implementing emerging industry standards from ARC and ATPCO and rolling out new technology platforms to support airline optional services.

Another risk for consumers, intermediaries and GDSs is further penetration of the pay-for-content model, whereby airlines may compel OTAs and travel agencies to pay for access to some or all of their content via the GDS. This could result in significant downstream distribution costs for intermediaries and consumers, with consumers ultimately picking up the tab by way of higher all-in prices for air travel.

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Figure : U.S. Airline, Hotel and Car Rental Web Site Share of All Category Revenue, 1999-2008

GDS share of the total travel market is projected to increase slightly in 2009 and 2010 because of two main trends: OTAs countercyclical lift amid the recession and the growing trend by corporate travel buyers and TMCs to drive more travel spend under management and via the GDS.

The GDSs and travel agencies are increasingly challenged on a number of market fronts as airlines accelerate their direct distribution efforts and seek ways to restrict content across some intermediary channels or impose fees on bookings through those channels. This section examines some of the major challenges facing the GDSs and their potential impact on the travel markets in the U.S. and Europe.

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Hoteliers must find a way to dominate the digital information cloud with their own marketing message and customer interactions, or the OTAs and the competition will control the conversation. In 2011 hoteliers need to invest in technologies and expertise to better execute multi-channel marketing and distribution strategies, the antidote to the current silo approach.

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GDS Outlook 2009-2010


With the U.S. and Europe mired in a global economic recession in 2009, travel demand has declined dramatically and no segment of the travel industry has gone unscathed. As central hubs to travel distribution, the GDSs have seen transaction volumes fall significantly from previous years, but GDSs will gain overall share versus supplier direct channels for two important reasons: 1. OTAs Recessionary Bump: Online travel agencies are experiencing a countercyclical lift during the current recessionary environment. Consumers are traveling less, and when they do travel, they are spending less and increasingly hunting for deals. Suppliers, suffering from excessive distressed inventory amid such soft demand, are lowering fares and rates and working more aggressively with online intermediaries. While still suffering overall declines, OTAs continue to outperform and by a significant margin the broader travel industry in the recession. According to PhoCusWrights Travel & Finance Outlook 2009-2010, all sectors of the travel industry airlines, hotels, car rental, cruise lines, tour operators, corporate travel, travel agencies are facing steep, double-digit declines in gross travel bookings through the first half of 2009. OTAs, by comparison, are seeing single-digit drop-offs . There are three key drivers behind OTAs countercyclical lift: Increased access to better rates and availability most significantly in the hotel industry as suppliers turn to OTAs amid the steep decline in demand.

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The removal of booking fees on flights, initiated in March by Expedia and quickly matched by Travelocity and Orbitz, and then reinstated by the latter on hotels.

Shifts in traveler behavior that favor OTAs: Frequent, higherspending travelers, who tend to book directly with suppliers or offline, are pulling back on travel the most; the infrequent leisure traveler, who tends to book with OTAs, is still traveling (or pulling back the least). The gap between OTAs and the travel industry overall widened significantly in 2009, when booking fee cuts across air tickets and, to some extent, hotels and packages, took full effect. The moves clearly helped spur booking volume. Expedia reported a 13% increase in air tickets sold and a remarkable 26% jump in hotel room nights for 2Q, while both of those sectors saw significant declines in the same period. Booking volumes were also up for Orbitz and Priceline. Travelocity does not release quarterly financial performance. As a key booking technology behind OTAs, the GDSs are likewise benefiting as their OTA channels far outperform their traditional travel agency customers. An attempt on the part of suppliers to reduce the share of the OTA channel in 2009 and 2010, either by adding fees on GDS bookings or withholding content, could backfire in the face of OTAs countercyclical strength.

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Figure: 2009 Sales Performance by Travel Industry Sector

2. Corporate travel and strategic spend management: Corporate travel is suffering more than just about any other segment of the travel industry as companies rein in employee travel and make cuts to travel budgets. This market will decline 15% in 2009, compared to a 3% decline for the online leisure travel market. GDSs strong position in corporate travel distribution has contributed to a significant drop-off in GDS transactions in 2009. However, facing increasing pressure to contain costs and improve the efficacy of corporate travel programs, travel managers and TMCs are more focused than ever on strategic spend management, a central tenet of which is bringing as much travel expense under management as possible by reducing rogue, outof-policy purchases and promoting (or requiring) designated booking channels. This trend will mean fewer supplier-direct Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 42

corporate bookings and more corporate travel transactions via TMCs and GDSs. So, while overall corporate travel is down significantly in 2009 and will decline further in 2010, GDS share of that smaller market will increase. As a result of these trends, GDS share of the total U.S. travel market spend is projected to increase slightly from 35% in 2008 to 36% in 2009 and 2010. The total value of all travel booked via a GDS will decline just 10% in 2009, while the total travel market is projected to fall by 11% .

Figure: U.S. Total Travel Revenue and GDS Share, 2006-2010

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Future Research on Accessibility Issues With GDS Data


Accessibility issues are key considerations for both travelers and air service providers. The approaches illustrated in this paper for both mining and utilizing GDS data allows researchers a unique window into the spatial, temporal and economic landscapes of air travel in the United States. Although the analysis presented in this paper focused on one time period and a very broad geographic scale (i.e. the national level), some interesting patterns were realized, but again, the true power of GDS data are exploited in applications where panel data are extracted for multiple locations. This type of fine spatial and temporal resolution is not possible with other databases, notably the DB1B. In an effort to establish a useable data series, data similar to that presented here for Q1 2005 has been collected for five quarters, ranging from September 2004 to September 2005. We plan to expand our analysis of these data and hope that funding will allow us to standardize it so that it can be available to other researchers as well. It is also important to note that his possible permutations on the basic accessibility analyses presented here are virtually limitless, but again, it must be recognized that they are only possible because of the availability of GDS data. Future empirical work of interest to both public and private research agencies might include conducting state or regional level accessibility analysis, tracking accessibility at a given airport(s) over time in a performance assessment, or assessing interairport competitiveness all of which are contingent on having Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 44

representative airfare and service data. Because GDS data are true snapshot airfares for a given point in time, and can be collected for any desired time period, we feel their use in research should be strongly encouraged.

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SUMMARY
Since 1995, when the first bookable online travel Web sites emerged, dramatic change has descended upon travel distribution. It has been a boon to some, a death knell to others and a challenge for many. But with half of all travel in the U.S. now booked online34 and continued significant upward trending in both Europe and Asia Pacific, some things are still certain: 1. Online travel is now a mainstream if not the mainstream distribution channel for many parts of the travel industry and many segments of the global traveler population. 2. The volume and types of travel Web sites online travel agencies, supplier Web sites, and nontransactional sites that provide a range of travel content (traveler reviews, destination information, professional travel guide content, trip planning, metasearch) continue to grow and innovate as more travelers do more of their travel planning, shopping and booking online. 3. The shift to online booking has benefited consumers with significant improvements in pricing transparency, shopping convenience and relevance of content. 4. Innovation in Web and travel technology will only advance these developments. As online travel gained market traction and then began growing quickly in the late 1990s and the early part of this decade, many in the travel industry forecasted the decline and fall of the GDSs as more travel booking moved online via channels outside of the GDS. But Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 46

these predictions have failed to materialize. While bookings on travel supplier Web sites have indeed grown and GDSs have seen their overall share of travel sales decline incrementally in some markets, GDSs continue to account for a tremendous amount of overall travel volume: nearly $100 billion in the U.S. alone in 2008. The GDSs have demonstrated their ability to adjust to these new market forces. They adapted to the emergence of new entrants (such as OTAs) with the introduction of new technology services, and in some cases, launched their own OTAs or acquired them. They responded to the evolving financial dynamics with suppliers by introducing new commercial models that allow travel agencies continued access to expansive travel content. But such change has not been easy, and the change that will be demanded in the future will not be any more so. The GDSs today continue to play a major role in both leisure and corporate travel distribution for travel suppliers, travel agencies and travelers, but they are also beset by a range of challenges from the continued rise on supplier direct bookings to constant changes in airline products (optional services) and distribution pricing models. In an industry that is changing as quickly as travel, the strong position of the GDSs is by no means assured. But if they continue to innovate and adapt to meet the evolving needs of their various constituencies travel suppliers, travel distributors, and ultimately travelers themselves they will continue to shape travel distribution for years to come.

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DATA ANALYSIS On HOTELS

* Graphical representation of online booking scheme.

* Graphical representation of use of different GDS in Hotels.

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* Graphical representation of online booking scheme with guests reservation.

* Graphical representation of travel portals linking with hotel room booking.

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* Graphical representation of travel portals linked with hotels

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* Graphical representation of helpfulness of GDS

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* Graphical representation of relieved employees by use of GDS.

* Graphical representation of periodic upgradations of GDS. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 52

* Graphical representation of revenue generated by your hotel annually.

* Graphical representation of annual revenue share of GDS for hotels.

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* Graphical representation for plans to change GDS.

* Graphical representation of cost incurred for installation of a GDS.

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* Graphical representation of no. of hotels that help back the Travel portals.

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* Graphical representation of knowledge of employees about PMS & GDS.

* Graphical representation of growth in online bookings with GDS.

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* Graphical representation of new modifications in GDS made.

* Graphical representation of hotels that share part of revenue with travel portals.

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* Graphical representation of share of revenue of travel portals with hotels.

* Graphical representation of hotels that have enrolled with a GDS Co. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 58

* Graphical representation of 24 hrs online portability via GDS

* Graphical representation of hotels providing more information via GDS. # N/A = Not Applicable Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 59

DATA - ANALYSIS on OTAs

* Graphical representation of use of GDS software by travel portals.

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*Graphical representation of no. of incoming clients.

* Graphical representation of operating cost of GDS.

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* Graphical representation of varied OTA- software used.

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*Graphical representation of availability of updating schemes.

* Graphical representation of portals offering travel loans. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 63

* Graphical representation of portals associated with banks

* Graphical representation of whether public/private bank. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 64

* Graphical representation of the banks linked with.

* Graphical representation of use of GDS. Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 65

* Graphical representation of range of training period given.

* Graphical representation of user friendliness of varied OTA software.

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* Graphical representation of usage of other GDS.

* Graphical representation of payment-mode for OTA.

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* Graphical representation of availability of GDS-backup.

* Graphical representation of linkage of hotels at local level.

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* Graphical representation of satisfied staff with GDS-use.

* Graphical representation of efficiency of the software.

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* Graphical representation of acknowledged staff with GDS.

* Graphical representation of assistance given by OTA software Co. to Travel portals.

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* Graphical representation of beneficial from GDS software to portals.

* Graphical representation of latest upgradation of OTA-software. # N/A = Not Applicable

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CONCLUSION (FINAL)
As per the collected data and its analysis, the deduced conclusions are given under:The GDS has a great usefulness in overall management process. Among OTAs, the average clients turning up are 10. The average installation cost for Travel Portals sums around 1, 30,000 INR. Most of the Portals use Amadeus and Galileo (more commonly) as their GDS/OTA software. All the Portals support some or the other kind of upgradation scheme. Most of the portals do not provide any travelbased loans, except for Make My Trip. All these Portals are associated with Private Banks, commonly with HDFC and ICICI. The OTAs are using their GDS since the very inception of their business. The employees are send to a probation period of 1 week to 1 month. All of those OTA- software are very user- friendly. These Travel Portals generally doesnt employ any other software apart from GDS, except for Make My Trip and Yatra. The mode of payment for their GDS is in cheque, in general and sometimes by credit card on general basis. All of these Portals have some or the other kind of backup for their GDS-software. All Travel agencies are linked with Hotels at local-level. Their staffs are content and well versed with the current GDS in-use. The GDS Company even assists their Portal in the installation of the software, and the package has proved beneficial to them. Most of the travel agencies get their GDS upgraded on a regular periodic base, ranging from 3 6 months. Hotels with 3 star category and above support GDS. Common GDS used are Amadeus, WorldSpan, Expedia, Galileo and Sabre. Their online scheme copes well with guests reservations. The Hotels are Online Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 72

linked with Travel Portals to facilitate online room bookings. They are linked with Travel Portals like - TravelGuru, Make My Trip, ClearTrip, Expedia, Via, etc. The GDS has proved to be very helpful to the Hotel staff and they are well content with it. Like Travel Portals, Hotels too have a GDS upgradation scheme. Approximate reservations generated through OTA are 10 15 % per month. The total share of that revenue ranges from 35,000 80,000 INR. GDS are going good for the Hotels and hence there are no plans to get it changed in any near future. The approx cost incurred for the installation of a new GDS varied from 3 5 lakhs INR. Most of the Hotels do extend a help to Travel Portals; for their help in room booking. The Hotel staff is well acknowledged with PMS linking with GDS. They have noticed a Good growth in online booking via GDS. There are periodic upgradation scheme for GDS, which varies from monthly to half monthly. There is also some % of revenue that Hotel shares with Travel Portals, ranging from 5 10%. Their GDS is well versed with a 24-hr online availability and offers information transparency scheme for most of the Hotels. On the whole, the GDS will continue to innovate and adapt to meet the evolving and changing needs of their various contents travel suppliers, travel distributors, and ultimately travelers themselves they will continue to shape travel distribution for years to come.

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ANNEXURE III

Key Terms & Definitions Computerized reservation system (CRS): A computerized system originally developed for airlines to manage reservations and inventory and later adapted for use by travel agencies. CRSs are the precursors of GDS and became widely adopted by hotels, car rental firms and other travel companies. Global distribution systems (GDS): Electronic travel distribution networks that facilitate connectivity, shopping and booking among thousands of travel suppliers and more than 163,000 travel agencies around the world. Managed business travel (corporate travel): Managed or corporate travel refers to all air, car and hotel expenses made by corporations where purchases are governed by a formal travel policy. A travel policy can refer to a preferred travel management company, supplier, online booking tool, negotiated rates and/or booking channel. Managed travel also includes rogue, or out-of-policy, purchases that are captured as part of a companys corporate travel budget. Online corporate booking tool: Also referred to as a self-booking tool, SBT or CBT, corporate self-booking tools are online reservation tools that automate the booking of corporate travel reservations for travelers and traveler assistants within a managed travel program.

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Online travel agency (OTA): An entity whose branding is oriented online and that principally conducts business online. There are several hundred online travel agencies in the U.S. and Europe (defined as a travel agency for whom at least 50% of sales are derived online). However, the four largest OTAs Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide, Priceline, Travelocity and their affiliated sites represented some 96% of all online travel agency sales in 2006-10. Segment: The base component of a booked transaction as measured by a GDS, a segment represents a flight from point A to point B for a single passenger. For example, a roundtrip plane ticket where each leg of the flight was nonstop would consist of two segments if only one passenger was included in the itinerary; a roundtrip ticket for one passenger whose flight legs each included one stop would have four segments. The GDS charge suppliers a segment fee for each segment booked. Supplier (or travel supplier): An owner/operator of a travel service, such as an airline, hotel, car rental company or cruise line (as opposed to an intermediary or retailer, such as a travel agency, that resells suppliers products). Travel agency: A retail storefront or office-based travel agency business. (TMC): A type of travel agency that provides management and consulting services for corporate travel programs, which may include contract management and procurement, expense reporting, and proOnline Channels & Global Distribution System: Emerging Source of Reservation for Hotels 75

gram development and oversight, as well as more conventional travel agency services, such as booking and fulfillment of travel. Unmanaged business travel: All air, car and hotel expenses associated with business travel in firms that do not have a travel policy dictating the channel, type of travel, supplier or fare/rate used.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
Hotel Front Office: Operations and Management By Jatashankar R. Tewari Hotel Front Office Management 3rd Edition By J A Bardi International Encyclopedia of Hospitality Management By Abraham Pizam Front Office Operations By Colin Dix, Chris Baird Front Office By Peter Abbott, Sue Lewry Hotel Front Office: Training Manual By Sudhir Andrews PhoCusWrights Travel & Finance Outlook January 2010 Hotels Magazine: Controlling Distribution Costing April 2011

Websites
www.books.google.co.in/books www.interactivetravel.org www.torrentz.com www.bupdf.com www.docs.com

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