GDS and Contracting

» Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

I am proud to be working for a travel company that has been around since 1948. This company has been sold several times and the name has changed, however, the one thing that I am proud of is how loyal the employees are. We have employees who have been with the company for more then 15 year and they are dedicated to making and keeping this company #1 in the travel industry. Today we are known as Carlson Wagonlit /SatoTravel and are now the number 1 leader in the travel company.

As a meeting planner I do not work with the Global Distribution System (GDS) to book meetings. All our meetings/room blocks for groups are handled thru the National Sales Representatives for each Brand. I do, however, use the GDS to look for hotels near a specific zip code or to check the availability to see which hotels in the area are offering the Government perdiem or that has availability. This helps me determine which hotels are closest to the meeting site and offering at least one room at the per diem. Once I am able to establish what hotels are available, I then contact them directly to request and negotiates a group block contract for my client.

Our agents do use the GDS for booking individual travelers. The agents in our office work on several accounts during the day so when a new account is set up, a Star is created with the rules and regulations regarding the accounts specifics. When speaking with a caller for the first time, the agent will develop a profile for each of the callers. The profile gives important information regarding the traveler (hotel airline/car preference, it also will include specific information such as frequent flyer /hotel membership/seat assignment and sleeping room type as well as any other special requirements). Prior to speaking to the caller the agent will receives a whisper indicating which account is calling. This information is then moved over from a Star with the rules and regulations for this account. Once the caller identifies who he/she is the agent is able to pull up and mover over his/hers personnel profile into the GDS to assist them with there travel arrangements. This saves the client time and the agent is able to professionally book the traveler their choice of airline, hotel, or car.

When the airlines stopped paying commission on the air travel a lot of the smaller agencies were not able to continue operating. With this came the transaction fees which brought new hope to a lot of agencies. At that time, our corporate clients were already paying a transaction fee which was negotiated and written into each of there contracts. However, the government travelers were not used to paying a fee for their travel and it took some time for this to become part of the norm.

Since I work with booking groups at hotels it has always been a challenge to get the clients to understand that the government per diem is not always a guaranteed rate at the hotels. It is very difficult at times to explain to a client who has a room block of 50 rooms at a guaranteed rate of 10% above the perdiem during high season that this is all that is available. It is even more difficult when a few individuals call reservations and book outside of the room block and are able to get the per diem or lower. I then will receive a call asking me why I wasn’t able to get the per diem for the entire group when these people received the rate from the same hotel. I explain that the hotel might have 1 or 5 rooms, but not 50 rooms at that rate and that the hotel has a tier rate structure and only offer so many rooms at each rate. If the entire group books individually they would receive rates that range from below the per diem to the rack rate at the hotel; but with a contract all the rooms are guaranteed at a negotiated rate. . If all government personnel who book rooms for groups understood that rates for a trip researched on a web based sites (i.e. Expedia, Orbitz etc) even if the offer a lower rate than the CPP they cannot compare with the 70% plus savings that the government gets on all the rooms booked in the travel program.

By Carolyn Amacker

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