Corporate travel managers book flights and accommodation for employees to facilitate business trip. They face tough challenges such as finding the right hotel or flight, negotiating the rates, accommodating employee preferences, and complying with travel policy rules. All this can easily be resolved by GDS. When talking about what is a GDS system, it a system that acts as a medium between online travel agencies and travel booking options like hotels, flights, and ground transportation. With GDS, travel managers get instant and real-time access to business travel inventories for bookings and reservations.

What is a GDS system?

American Airlines revolutionized the traditional booking system that relied on paper records. Partnering with IBM, American Airlines developed an electronic reservation system in 1960 to increase booking efficiency and streamline the booking process.
Westin was the first company from the hospitality sector to adopt the electronic booking system in 1970. Global Distribution System came into existence when electronic booking systems from Europe and North America joined hands in 1992.

GDS booking system, or Global Distribution System, is a worldwide computerized network of reservation inventory enabling travel managers, travel management companies, and travel agencies to access airlines, hotels, and car rental providers. The GDS system training is essential for travel agents to explore multiple services in the travel industry, such as transportation and accommodation.

Travel bookers can leverage automated transactions by viewing the live availability of travel services with product details and prices. Travel and hospitality companies can benefit from the unified portal of the Global Distribution System to showcase their products to a large spectrum of online travel agents and enterprise travel bookers.

How does GDS work in travel?

The computerized platform of the Global Distribution System enables bookings of hotels, flights, and tours. Travel and hospitality suppliers pay administrative charges to the service provider of the GDS reservation system. These charges are justifiable as they can achieve extensive exposure of their services and products across myriad Online Travel Agencies and other travel bookers.


GDS system for travel agents connects travel agencies to travel inventories by linking vendors for booking transportation and accommodation with the help of live information. Dynamic pricing and automatic inventory updates help book travel with real-time information on availability and pricing.

The Global Distribution System displays essential information to facilitate booking to travel agents. It updates the supplier’s system and removes the product from the inventory. Travel agents and vendors do not interact with each other directly as the GDS completes the booking and inventory updating in real time.

Suggested Read: How Do Small Business Travel Agency Add Value To Business Travel

Benefits of a GDS

The Global Distribution system benefits travel agents and suppliers in the travel and hospitality sector in myriad ways.

  • Timesaving option to complete the entire booking process
  • No need to contact individual suppliers
  • Travel service providers can enhance the online visibility of services across many travel agencies
  • Ensures a leveled playing field between individual hotels and large hotel chains
  • Provides a vast inventory of travel options at your fingertips
  • Travel agents gain direct access to booking systems of travel vendors, like airlines and hotels
  • Easy accessibility to a broad spectrum of travel services like tours, rail tickets, cruises, and car rentals besides hotel and airlines
  • Travel services can expand their target segment base like business travelers
  • Travel agents can serve several clients at a time, increasing revenues
  • Travel agents need not process complex contracts with vendors

Why GDS is important to travel agents

Travel agents can broaden their client bases by including international tourists and corporate clients using the Global Distribution System. The GDS enables OTAs to achieve global outreach and enhance the travel shopping experience to establish brand image.

The Global Distribution System minimizes marketing costs by helping individual travel agents compete with Online Travel Agencies. The GDS flight booking system assures transparency of prices and provides real-time insights to take maximum benefits of discounted rates.

Suggested Read: How Do Corporate Travel Agents Help In Efficient Business Trips


To answer what is a GDS system, in simple words, it is an online platform enabling travel agents to connect with suppliers in the travel and hospitality industry for instant booking. The platform provides real-time updates on inventories and discounted prices with remarkable transparency.

The wide availability of suppliers helps travel agents book travel packages, including transportation, accommodation, local transport, and tours. They can create itineraries for travelers with ease using the GDS booking system. SaaS-based online travel management platforms like Paxes allow seamless access to the Global Distribution System for fast and efficient business travel booking.

Suggested Read: How Do Travel Management Apps Assist Corporates And Agencies

What Is A GDS System FAQs

Who are the primary users of the Global Distribution System?

The Global Distribution System targets independent travel agents and Online Travel Agencies.

How does the Global Distribution System help travel agents?

The GDS allows travel agents to tap into the systems of travel and hospitality vendors to know the real-time prices and availability for instant bookings.

How does the Global Distribution System enable online reservations?

The Global Distribution Service does not take part in the reservation process. The GDS allows travel agents to access the vendor reservation system to book by checking for availability.

What are some examples of Global Distribution Systems?

Several GDS companies are operating globally and locally. Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport are examples of large GDS providers.

Can an individual traveler use the Global Distribution System to book hotel accommodations?

No, an individual traveler cannot access GDS. Travel agents or Online Travel Agencies having valid IATA or ARC numbers can use the Global Distribution System for hotel booking for their clients.


Pratyush is a traveling enthusiast who always looks for innovations in business travel management. He has 5 years of experience writing content on corporate travel management and working closely with expert business travel facilitators.

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