Corporate travel managers book flights and accommodation for employees to facilitate business trips. Most of them 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 the GDS. When talking about what is a GDS system, it is 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?

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

History of Global Distribution System (GDS)

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. The Global Distribution System came into existence when electronic booking systems from Europe and North America joined hands in 1992.

Disadvantages of not having a GDS

  • Limited access to travel inventory
  • Inability to compare real-time rates across multiple suppliers
  • Higher manual workload for booking and managing reservations
  • Increased risk of booking errors and inconsistencies
  • Reduced efficiency and productivity in travel management
  • Lack of integration with other travel management systems

Key components and features of a GDS systems

GDS provides access to an expansive inventory from various travel suppliers all around the globe. Travel managers and bookers can easily book these inventories at the listed prices. Apart from extensive inventory GDSs have following features:

  • Inventory and content management: With access to an increasing inventory, GDS can help travel suppliers list their content online.
  • Booking engine: GDS provides travel managers and bookers with the opportunity to book flights, accommodations, and car rentals.
  • Connectivity: It provides connectivity between various travel suppliers and buyers all around the world.
  • Integration with external systems: Most of the GDSs can be used with online travel booking platforms to expand the booking and management options.
  • Reporting and analytics: GDS enables travel bookers to collect travel data from multiple touchpoints for comprehensive reporting and analysis.

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 bookers 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 travel bookers for facilitating booking. It updates the supplier’s system and removes the product from the inventory. Travel bookers 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 Global Distribution System (GDS)

The Global Distribution system benefits travel bookers 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 level playing field between individual hotels and large hotel chains
  • Provides a vast inventory of travel options at your fingertips
  • Travel bookers 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, leisure travelers, and more
  • Travel bookers can serve several clients at a time, increasing their overall revenues
  • Travel bookers do not need to process complex contracts with vendors

Why is GDS important to travel bookers?

Travel bookers 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 booking experience to establish brand image.

The Global Distribution System minimizes marketing costs by helping individual travel bookers 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

What is the future of GDS?

With the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence and continuous transformation in the modern-day tech, GDSs as we know are only going to evolve in the future. Some of the key changes expected are as follows:

  • Increased personalization in travel booking
  • Better user experience
  • Accessible with mobile
  • Inclusion New Distribution Capability
  • Integration of block chain technology


To answer what is a GDS system, in simple words, it is an online platform enabling travel bookers 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 bookers 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 integration of 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 bookers, corporates 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 bookers 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.

What types of data can be managed within a GDS system?

GDS can be used to manage a wide range of data includign the flight availability, seat inventory, hotel room rates, car rentals, etc.

How do GDS systems connect airlines, hotels, and other travel providers?

GDS systems provides a central platform for suppliers to showcase their inventory along with the cost of each service they offer.

Can a GDS system handle both domestic and international travel bookings?

Yes, GDS systems can handle both domestic and international travel bookings.

What features should I look for in a GDS system for my travel agency?

Features to consider include a user-friendly interface, comprehensive travel inventory, real-time data updates, support for multiple booking channels (e.g., online, mobile, etc.), integration with your booking tools of agencies , reporting and analytics capabilities, and reliable customer support.

Are GDS systems customizable to suit specific business needs?

Yes, GDS systems are customizable to some extent. However, the core remains the same so as to maintain the standards.

Are GDS systems compatible with other travel-related software or platforms?

Yes, many GDS systems are designed to integrate with other travel-related software and platforms.

What security measures are in place to protect data within a GDS system?

To protect the data the measures may include encryption protocols, secure access controls, data backups, and compliance with industry security standards.

Can a GDS system provide real-time availability and pricing information?

Yes, one of the primary objectives of GDS systems is to provide real-time availability and pricing information.

How do GDS systems handle cancellations and refunds?

GDS systems facilitate cancellations and refunds through the same platform used for bookings.

Are there any limitations or challenges associated with using a GDS system?

The complexity of the GDS system and additional costs are some of the top challenges of GDS.

Can GDS systems provide real-time updates?

Yes, they are capable of providing real-time updates.

Do GDS systems support different languages?

Yes, most of the GDS systems offer multilingual options.

What are the major GDS software?

Top GDS are Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport (includes Galileo, Apollo, and Worldspan)
Abacus, Axess.


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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