This vent has been a long time coming. First, let me start off by saying I love my job. I really love my job. My frustration lies with the Global Distribution System; also known as the GDS. I know it’s a powerful tool used by travel professionals all over the world. In fact, the recent white paper I read on the subject says 500,000 travel agencies across the world use the GDS. So what’s my problem with it?
Let’s start with the cryptic command line method. Studies show it takes an agent 5 years of repetitive and repeated use to become a master of the GDS system. I don’t know about you, but I am dis-heartened that it will take me 5 years to become highly proficient using the main tool provided to me in order to do my job quickly and efficiently.
Travelport conducted a GDS Usability Study and found that seasoned agents are hesitant to change it, and some even adamant that the GDS stay as is. Upon further questioning the reasons they gave were: they don’t want to learn anything new and they are afraid that by making it easier to use they will lose business to others that can easily learn the system. This way of thinking is incredibly non-productive in my opinion. Things change. People get smarter. Technology improves. It’s called progress.
I have thought the GDS system to be archaic from the first time I started using it in 2007. When I started, I was only booking cruises and didn’t have to use the GDS. Now, 2 I/2 years later, I am back at a full service agency and find myself rusty to say the least. I can use it, but I am certainly not an advanced user. When I watch my manager use the GDS she enters codes and numbers and formats I’ve never seen before to find the information she needs. She’s fast, and gets the job done, but she’s also been an agent for over 20 years. It takes me thirty minutes to do a task she can do in ten.
So how do I do my job if I’m so slow on the GDS? I do what many agents these days are doing. I use other tools to find what I am looking for, and in a huge percentage of cases, I book the reservation through a different method all together, only using the GDS to build an in-house record of the transaction for accounting purposes. This creates extra work and seems counter-productive. But until I know the codes and commands, I do what I have to do to get the job done. I don’t have time to look up codes and its mind numbing to try and remember them all. Of course I’m getting better each day, but there is a plethora of GDS commands I haven’t even touched yet.
There are better platforms being created and being offered to agencies. The question is how many agencies are willing to adopt the new tools? Travelport’s “new” system is called Universal Desktop. It sounds incredibility useful and productive to me, but where is it? The white paper was written over a year ago. My agency is not using it. Agencies who are supported by Travelport can ask for a product demonstration, and I intend to find out if my agency owner has any plans to do so; and if not, why.
What are your thoughts on GDS? Am I a whiny old “newbie” or one of many agents in the hospitality industry wanting and demanding better, smarter ways to conduct business? I plan to research this issue in depth and better educate myself on the history, and the future, of the GDS. Please leave comments with your thoughts. I welcome your professional and expert opinions! I’ll continue this subject next month with my findings.