Are GDSs still useful for travel agents?

Agents as well as Amadeus give opinions at event in Asia
The question of whether GDSs remain a relevant middleman in today’s evolving travel landscape continues to be a hot topic.
This was under discussion at the ASEAN Tourism Conference during ATF in Singapore last week, as industry players brought different sides of the argument to the table.
Amadeus maintains that its traditional travel distribution function is still strong despite its diversification strategy into the airport and hospitality technology sectors, said Sebastian Gibergues, its head of leisure and online travel.
The travel technology giant acquired Singapore-based airport technology provider UFIS in 2014 and last year rebranded Newmarket International, which it had bought to accelerate expansion in the hotel software space, into Amadeus Hospitality.
But these new areas of focus do not imply a decline in its distribution business, he stressed.
“Our strong technology and distribution play makes our company very resilient. The reality is the distribution business is still a growing and healthy [sector].”
This is especially so given the “organic growth the company enjoys from regions like South-East Asia, where people are travelling more than before”, he said.
Moreover, the current state of market fragmentation has only reinforced the need for airlines to “not ignore all the channels they can use to get reach”, Gibergues added.
Agents at the conference, including Vivek Khanna, president of Tourcan Vacations, and Suli Purnawarman, consultant at Indonesia’s Astina Tours & Travel, told TTG Asia that they still favoured going via GDSs for airline bookings.
On the other hand, Margaret Siah, manager at Singapore’s PIL Travels, which handles leisure and corporate bookings, foresees some challenges ahead for GDSs with direct booking channels offering more inexpensive options.
This is not the case for Gibergues, who is adamant that “bringing costs down, despite what airlines might say, is still the job of the GDS”.
TTG Asia