For the first time since 2008, the percentage of agencies reporting increased bookings (34 percent) through their GDS was higher than those seeing a decrease (24 percent), a signal of a sustained economic recovery, ASTA reports in its 2011 Global Distribution System (GDS) Report. The a 63-page study is designed to assist agencies in evaluating their current GDS contracts and help industry suppliers gain insight into the travel agency distribution channel.
The report also confirms the value of the GDS distribution to the travel agency industry, ASTA said. When renegotiating their contracts, a majority of GDS subscribers (65 percent) say they value their GDS for its ease-of-use and many (50 percent) see no viable alternative.
“The report not only provides agents with a comparative analysis of the deals agencies have negotiated, but it also compares agency satisfaction by GDS vendor. This is a must-have for any agency with a GDS contract up for renewal,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. “Just as important, it’s a must-have for any supplier looking to improve distribution through the GDS channel.”
ASTA said the report is the only one of its kind that specifically examines GDS usage, contracts and distribution trends from the agencies' point of view and takes a close look at the reasons agencies use GDSs.
Among the report's findings:
• The agency-GDS relationship is very stable, with 19 years being the average length of time for GDS usage.
• Seventy-five percent of agencies used a GDS in 2011, compared with 76 percent in 2010.
• More than 80 percent of agencies pay less than $1,000 annually for their GDS; 46 percent paid no fees at all.
• Sixty-one percent of agencies plan to renew their current GDS contract when it expires. In 2010, that figure was 63 percent. The majority (40 percent) of agencies report they have a “no-minimum” pricing plan, a figure which has held relatively steady since 2008.
• The percentage of agencies rating content “very satisfied” drops across all travel categories between 2008 and 2011 down between 10 percent and 34 percent depending on the category.
• The largest group of agencies (44 percent) describe themselves as “somewhat satisfied” customers.
Data was collected May 2011. The ASTA Research Family, which was used for this study, is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The report indicates a 95-percent confidence with an error rate +/- 4.6 percent.
ASTA Premium members will receive a complimentary copy of the full report as part of their membership. Travel agent members may access a free two-page summary on ASTA.org, and can also purchase the entire report for $99. The cost for ASTA member suppliers is $349 and $549 for non-members.