The Mews Blog > What are the differences between CRS and GDS in the hotel industry?
Once you understand the difference between CRS and GDS, you can increase the exposure of your hotel to travel agencies, OTAs and metasearch websites. This technology updates these third-party channels automatically, saving you precious time. If your establishment is not attracting enough interest from tourists, or if you are attracting the wrong kind of customers, it could be worth investing in a CRS or GDS.
The global distribution system, or GDS, was invented in the 1960s for use in the airline industry. This industry needed travel agents to automate their reservation processes, so they could access data about flight times, seat availability and fares more efficiently. In the twenty-first century, over half-a-million travel agents connect to the GDS each day to book hotels, flights, holiday activities and car hire. If you’re unfamiliar with this technology, or are researching different options before purchasing a system, here's what you need to know.
What is CRS and GDS?
The primary function of a GDS is to assist travel agents who are looking for hotels that satisfy certain criteria. These business-to-business systems are used by organisations to keep abreast of information about travel arrangements, like hotel room availability. This allows customers to make bookings on demand. This technology gives travel professionals a common point of entry to access real-time data about travel reservations.
A central reservation system, or CRS, is designed for the hospitality sector – and in particular for hotel operations – to manage room availability and rates. These systems relay relevant data across several distribution channels, such as the GDS, metasearch engines and OTAs (online travel agencies). Whenever rates are adjusted or bookings are made, the CRS updates your hotel’s rates and availability on each channel appropriately. Bookings from these third-party channels are transferred to the CRS immediately, before being logged in the property management system so rooms can be allocated.
The three main systems currently used for hotel reservations are Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport. Let's take a closer look at these popular platforms.
Examples of CRS and GDS
At the time of writing, Amadeus accounts for roughly forty percent of travel bookings, making it the world's biggest reservation system. With its main database in Germany and its Spanish headquarters, it provides hotels with great access to European customers. Approximately 90,000 travel agents across the world use this software to book flights, although it is popular with hoteliers too. Established in 1987, Amadeus has led the way in the industry's adaptation of ecommerce.
Currently, Sabre accounts for roughly thirty-five percent of travel bookings, making it the world's second-biggest reservation system. Approximately 220,000 hotels in North America connect to this software, and about 60,000 travel agents worldwide sell travel products through it. With its American headquarters in Southlake, TX, Sabre was founded over forty years ago. In 2015, the company bought Travelocity, a well-known online travel booking platform.
Travelport started in the 1970s and is smaller than the two systems mentioned above. Nonetheless, it is still commonly used by business travel agents to book hotel arrangements. This software is prevalent in America, where it was founded, although the company has UK headquarters. Travelport encompasses the Apollo, Worldspan and Galileo platforms. Interestingly, the company is less dependent on its native market than other systems of its kind. While North America accounts for most of its use, Asia and Europe have embraced it too.
Differences between CRS and GDS in the hotel industry
The channels that each system links to
At first glance, a GDS and CRS appear to have similar functions. Both systems relay your hotel’s availability and rates across different channels. However, a GDS can link your hotel to business travel planners and travel agent networks. A CRS can connect you to these partners as well, but also to customers themselves through your booking engine, metasearch websites and OTAs.
If you tried to list your room details on these channels manually, without a CRS, you would spend ages updating availability, inputting rates and recording new bookings. Throughout this process, there's a good chance that errors could occur – and it would be too time-consuming to be viable. A CRS does this tedious legwork, so revenue managers and reservations staff can work efficiently.
The types of benefits each system provides
If your hotel is like many others the world over, travel agents are not your only source of bookings. Modern hotels also require connections to Booking.com, Expedia and more, along with a reliable booking platform to accept reservations directly. If you use a CRS, your hotel will be more visible on lots of distribution channels. This offers a greater likelihood of increased occupancy and revenue.
As a hotelier, your hours during the day are limited and it makes sense to automate certain tasks through system integration. For this reason, a CRS might be more valuable to you than using a GDS on its own. A CRS promotes your establishment to a wider market, without you having to do any extra work. Many GDS vendors have developed hotel software for this very purpose.
The vast majority of independent hotels will benefit from a CRS that fits their needs closely. Notwithstanding, the process of finding a CRS is not always straightforward, because the popular systems will not necessarily suit your establishment. When searching for a CRS, it is crucial to prioritize your requirements. Would you like a system with outstanding technical support? Would you like extra tools for marketing? And what is your budget for this resource? Certain systems have customized features for boutique hotels, whereas others are more appropriate for big conference hotels.
With the right hotel booking system software, it is easy to run promotions, use dynamic pricing and delete rooms from inventory. In addition, a CRS streamlines your booking processes by storing all your reservations in one location. This means that everybody – from call center agents to front-desk staff – can input and amend bookings inside the same platform. Better still, a CRS can integrate with on-property systems like your revenue management system and generate reports automatically.
The Mews Booking Engine gives guests a user-friendly, enjoyable booking experience. Do you want to transform the distribution strategy for your hotel? If so, a CRS could be the solution you require. Undoubtedly, with this technology, you can connect with more distribution channels, streamline your reservations department, sell more rooms and increase your bottom line.
Are you measuring the right data?
Regardless of whether you're using a CRS or a GDS, there are key datapoints that you're measuring. Things like ADR and RevPAR. While these are useful, they don't give a true reflection of property performance.
The Metrics That Matter is our guide to the modern generation of hospitality data, and will inspire you to think differently about how you measure success.
Eva has over a decade of international experience in marketing, communication, events and digital marketing. When she's not at work, she's probably surfing, dancing, or exploring the world.
Hospitality hot takes straight to your inbox
Sign up to our monthly newsletter for industry insights, product news, partner updates and more.