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Hotels have long placed lower rates on channels more advantageous to driving revenue. That some travel agents are finally wising up to the lack of rate parity is unlikely to change that.

New research from TravelClick indicates that while travel agents are booking hotel rooms more than ever using global distribution systems (GDS), they are booking away from hotels playing games with rate parity.

“Agents actively book away from hotels not offering the best rate in the GDS,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst for TravelClick. “Travel agents will actually penalize hotels that arent participating in rate parity.”

According to data from Travelclick, agents will stop booking a hotel for three or four months if they notice the hotel isn’t offering a competitive rate on the GDS.

The lack of bookings then leads the hotel to drop rates on the GDS in order to reacquire share, possibly costing it more revenue than if it had maintained rate parity to begin with.

This could have major ramifications, particularly in the business travel space.

A study conducted by TravelClick in conjunction with Phoenix Marketing International found that travel agents are booking hotels with the GDS more than ever before.

About half of the more than 900 agents polled in 40 countries said they are using the GDS the same amount or more than they did two years ago.

“This surprises a lot of people, because they have long talked about the demise of the global distribution system (GDS),” said Hach. “The surprise is agents are using the system more than before.”

According to Hach, the research correlates with data from Travelclick’s partners (Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo and Worldspan) showing the same phenomenon. He attributed the rise in GDS bookings to the fatigue of the common traveler when it comes to booking travel.

“The novelty of booking travel has worn off for many people,” said Hach. “Travel agents are doing a better job of being a one-stop shop for consumers; part of the growth is that consumers are coming back to agents, but agents are also doing a better job providing insight and experience to travelers.”

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Tags: gds, travelclick

Photo credit: The Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. *Crazy Diamond* / Flickr

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