Introduction to GDS

A Global Distribution System, or GDS, is a computer network operating as a middleware layer between travel agents and numerous travel service providers. It accumulates inventory, schedules, and fares from providers and gives agents and OTAs an opportunity to search and book them: using connectivity APIs for OTAs and via a manual terminal for agents. The concept of a Global Distribution System introduced due to the necessity to distribute flight tickets. In earlier days, back in the 60s, making a flight reservation took multiple people and a mainframe computer to process.

Few highlights

  • Its a primary reservation tool for travel agents.
  • GDS is a platform to access travel data via travel agencies and their clients.
  • It communicates live data i.e. price, availability, etc to travel agents and online booking websites, and allows for the transactions
  • GDS is often used in the corporate travel market as it presents the flight, hotel and car rentals in a single interface.
  • With the help of GDS, travel agencies use the products to provide travel-related services to their clients.

How important is GDS to travel agents

  • Travel agents or agencies use the GDS system to search for the best option in terms of travel, hotel accommodations.
  • GDS system also supports the travel websites like, Trip Advisor, etc.
  • GDS provides important features like Airfare searches, availability, connectivity, policies, etc.
  • Travel agents/agencies now use more sophisticated GDS systems to search for the best available option be it an airline or hotel reservations.
  • With the help of the GDS system, travel agents/ agencies can complete their search and book within minutes.

Major GDSs are :-

1] Amadeus 

2] Galileo

3] Sabre

4] Worldspan

5] Apollo

1] Amadeus – 

  • Operating over 30 years.
  • The biggest global network of any of the GDS.
  • The leading transaction processor of the global travel industry provides advanced technology solutions to travel agencies.
  • The company handles complex transactions between travel sellers and travel providers.

2] Galileo- 

  • Owned by Travelport. Travelport Worldwide Ltd has a vast geographical footprint in the travel industry.
  • In addition to airline booking, it is used to book trains, cars, and hotels.
  • It is a member of the International Air Transport Association.

3] Sabre – 

  • Pioneer for revenue management, corporate booking tools, web, and mobile itinerary tools.
  • Sabre Travel Network consists of a set of solutions that integrate with the GDS.
  • Provides solutions and products to the global travel industry.
  • Provides key services and software solutions to travel agencies.

4] Worldspan – 

  • It is a Travelport platform.
  • Technology leader in web-based travel.
  • Provides technologies and services to worldwide travel companies.

5] Apollo – 

  • Enables travel agents to book flight tickets, holiday packages, hotel rooms, etc.
  • Provides technology, online distribution, payments, and other services to the travel industry.

How exactly does GDS-centered distribution work?

  • GDSs normally communicate directly to the heart of airline sales technologies central reservation systems or CRSs. 
  • A CRS is a software program that manages seat booking on the airline side once a GDS requests a seat. But this connection channel does not cover scheduling information and pricing. 
  • To set timetables and prices Airlines must connect with two additional third parties. 
  • Airlines publish their prices on ATP Co (Airline Tariff Publishing company). It is the main global source of fare information that further distributes prices across GDSs online travel agencies or OTAs and price aggregators like Skyscanner. On the basis of that, airlines communicate to scheduling providers such as Innovata and OAG. These technology companies provide data to the travel market such as flight schedule, routing connection, and flight code info.

How to access GDS

  • Single point of entry to the GDS can be enabled through number of technology providers.
  • The systems mentioned above can connect your hotel directly to the world’s prominent GDS.
  • No individual signing up is needed for each system.

Key What does the GDS costs

  • One time sign up fee of approx $750-$1500 followed by recurring annual maintenance fee of approx $250.
  • 10% to the travel agency or website that provides GDS reservations.
  • You also pay some fee to back end technology companies that coordinate the GDS data and feed it to the network. For example, Pegasus is one of these companies.

How to use GDS to its full potential

  • You can market all your available services to the distribution channel in one go, this helps in maximizing the booking and thus increasing the revenue. 
  • Opt for the commission-free structure.
  • Choose a provider that offers comprehensive reporting tools, allowing you to evaluate your booking data.
  • Focus on a specific market based on geographical location.
  • Choose a provider that allows free trial before making final subscription.

Benefits of participating in the GDS network

  • Exposure to the virtual marketplace.
  • Increase revenue by online marketing i.e number of bookings generated through GDS is more than direct bookings.
  • Offers dynamic packages (includes flight, hotel, special events, etc).
  • Easy for travel agents to find the information in terms of availability and rates.

Key Growth Drivers for GDS Market

  • Increasing the expansion of Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) by offering low fares.
  • Growing Travel market.
  • ‘Anytime-anywhere’ service-based system with the arrival of Cloud-based distribution systems.
  • Efficient user experience by noticing customer sentiments.
  • Efficient search criteria to guide the user with their desired product.


GDS network is a vast network that offers valuable marketing exposure to travel websites and to travel agencies/agents. Other details of GDS will be covered in the upcoming blogs.


Scrum Master