Frequently Asked Questions
What is Electronic Distribution?
You may have heard someone say that you need electronic distribution for your hotel. But what does that mean? Simply put, electronic distribution means the process of pushing out your hotel information, rates and availability to electronic booking channels. This normally means distribution through the GDS and IDS channels.
What is GDS?
GDS stands for Global Distribution System. Travel agents access one or more of these systems to search hotel listings and make reservations. Some of these systems also power major travel websites, such as Travelocity and Priceline. There are four GDSs: Sabre, Worldspan, Galileo (Apollo), and Amadeus.
What is IDS?
IDS stands for Internet Distribution System, also known as ADS (Alternate Distribution System). These systems provide hotel information and rates to many of the online travel websites such as Orbitz, Hotwire, and local travel websites.
What is a Merchant Model program?
A merchant model program is similar to an extranet agreement with a major travel website. A non-commissionable negotiated rate is offered by a hotel to the OTA (Online Travel Agent), which is then marked up for resale. The agreement results in preferential placement of the hotel on the specified site. Through a merchant model program, your hotel's inventory may be sold unbundled or packaged with air travel and/or car rental. Your hotel's name/brand may display to the customer or may be hidden until the reservation is confirmed (opaque). Nevertheless, the consumer pays the merchant at the gross (marked-up) rate and the merchant site pays the hotel the net rate.
InnPoints can assist your hotel with enrolling in merchant model programs. We have long-standing relationships with all of the major sites. Best of all, you do not need to manage any additional channels when you enroll in merchant programs through InnPoints.
What is the difference between a Retail listing and a Merchant listing on an online travel site?
Some internet travel sites offer both retail listings and merchant listings. Retail listings pull from general distribution, where the hotel lists inventory at the same price that it is sold to the consumer, and the hotel pays the distributor an agreed upon commission.
With a Merchant Program, the hotel has agreed to offer discounted rates (usually 20% to 35% off their non- restricted/published best available rate) to the sites, and in return the site will give the hotel a higher placement and some kind of incentive, like a 'good buy' sticker placed on the listing. Merchant program reservations do not require the payment of travel agent commissions.
In heavily populated markets, it is sometimes necessary to participate in a merchant program to show up on a certain travel website. The OTAs don't have to list all hotels as retail, and can drop a hotel from its site that does not produce enough reservations to make the listing worthwhile. Merchant programs ensure that a hotel is visible on that site.
What is an extranet connection?
An extranet is when rates and inventory are supplied directly to an OTA through a dedicated portal. Extranet connectivity requires the hotel contact the OTA, agree to terms and conditions, and manage rates and availability in the portal that interfaces to the site. Often times a hotel can enroll in a merchant program through its distribution provider instead of an extranet so that all inventory can be managed in one central location.
What does the term "rate parity" mean?
Since all Merchant programs, or extranet connections, require the hotel to offer discounts off its non- restricted/published best available rate, the hotel cannot offer a lower rate on one site compared to another. If one site finds the hotel has offered a lower rate on another site, the hotel listing might be deleted from the site. Therefore, rate parity refers to ensuring the rates are equal across all sites.
Why do I need to use a central reservations system?
A central reservation system (CRS) provides a central point of inventory management for all electronic distribution. Most hotels want to be listed on all of the major travel websites as well as with travel agents through the GDS. A CRS provides seamless connectivity to all of these channels. A hotels rates, inventory, descriptions, policies and images are all managed and maintained in the CRS. When a reservation is made through one of the electronic channels, the CRS sends the hotel a confirmation of reservation immediately.
Do I need an interface between my PMS and MyCRS?
An interface between your hotel's property management system (PMS) and a CRS can save your hotel a lot of time. A 2-way interface can pull rates and inventory out of your PMS for electronic distribution so that you do not have to update this information in the CRS manually. At the same time, the CRS can deliver a reservation directly into your PMS, so that you don't have to manually enter a new reservation each time one comes in from an electronic distribution channel. Not every hotel needs an interface, as it can come at an extra cost. It depends on how busy your hotel is, how many reservations you have to process each day, and how actively you manage your rates and inventory.
How long does it take to get set up with GDS/IDS distribution?
Implementation can be completed in as little as ten business days. After signing an agreement for our services, we'll ask you to complete a hotel information form, which is information we'll use to build your profile in our CRS. We'll set up a welcome call, schedule training for MyCRS and designate a "live date." Our Implementations Team will assist you with your content, images, rates and inventory to ensure that you are marketing your hotel in the best way possible prior to going live in all channels. All new properties are monitored by the Implementations Team for positive production in all distribution channels before being assigned to a dedicated account manager for the duration of the relationship.
Where did you get the name InnPoints?
Today, InnPoints provides technology and channel marketing solutions to over1800 hotel clients worldwide. So where did we get the name InnPoints? InnPoints was a frequent stay program back in the nineties for... you guessed it: bed and breakfasts and inns. We quickly realized that these properties needed a way to link to reservation channels, and the developments in technology and the internet lead us to build a central reservation system to manage electronic distribution for our clients. We also grew to service primarily hotels, resorts and unique properties. Recently we re-introduced the frequent stay program through a robust, web-based system called StayCredits.
Why is an international company located in Albuquerque?
We are a technology and service company that lives in a virtual world. This means that we can locate ourselves anywhere since we don't meet face-to-face with our clients on a daily basis. We happen to think that New Mexico truly is enchanting. If you haven't visited us yet, you're missing out on a very special place.