CRS, GDS & the E Gov Travel System

» Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

In the 1950s the airlines began using computers to keep track of reservations and the seats available on their flights. By the 1970s airlines such as United Airlines, American and TWA began to install computerized systems in travel agencies. These systems were the first airline computer reservation systems and allowed travel agencies to obtain information and make reservations for several airlines. A computer reservation system (CRS) is a computerized system designed to create and maintain a database concerning reservations and links distributors and suppliers to a centralized storehouse of information for the primary purpose of making reservations. In the beginning, CRS’ were used to make airline reservations only.

By the late 1970s airlines were installing CRS’ in travel agencies throughout North America. For almost two decades, approximately 80 percent of the CRS’ in travel agencies came from two CRS companies—Sabre which was owned an operated by American Airlines, and Apollo by United Airlines. Travel agencies leased the CRS’, including the hardware, from the airline. The system looked much like a personal computer does today, but it was different in an important way. It was a dumb terminal: meaning it could exchange information with the airline’s central computer, but it could not do any processing of its own. Reservations on hundreds of major airlines throughout the world could be made on any of these systems.

The 1990s brought many changes to CRS’, partly because of the spreading use of the personal computers and the Internet. The systems themselves are now usually called global distribution systems (GDS) and most systems are owned and run by companies independent of the airlines. Other changes in GDS’ are more obvious to users. Dumb terminals are a thing of the past; on today’s GDS’, users can run a host of programs to perform tasks such as word processing, accounting, and database management. Both command interfaces and graphical interfaces are available. And GDS’ offer a wealth of information on all travel products, not just air travel.

The companies that run GDS’ are sometimes called hosts or vendors. They obtain revenue from suppliers that pay to have their services included in the system as well as from travel agencies that subscribe to the system.

Many suppliers such as Southwest, Airtran, and Jet Blue have their own computerized reservation systems but still participate in a GDS. They have the choice of various levels of participation, for various costs. For example, an airline might have its schedule displayed on the GDS, but not information about the availability of seats on its flights–this is the least expensive level of participation. More expensive levels of participation may indicate the availability of seats on a particular flight or allow the reservations to be made through the GDS. At the most expensive level of participation, there is a direct link between the supplier’s computer system and the GDS allowing the user to receive up to the minute reservation information.

Airline, hotel, and rental car participation in a GDS paved the way for today’s E Gov Travel Systems. Our E Gov Travel vendor provides a one-stop shop that allows our government travelers to process their travel documents, book their reservations and claim reimbursement once their trip is complete all using the same system. This progressive evolution came from the government and the travel industry working together to forge relationships that modernized government travel.

by Carole Byrd

Disclaimer: The contents of this message are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the Government or my agency.  Use of this equipment is consistent with the agency’s policy governing limited personal use.

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