Recognized as a perfect medium for purchasing travel, the Internet brings together a vast network of customers and suppliers into the centralized marketplace. Any discussion of the Internet as a channel for travel services exchange, however, begins with the understanding of the Global Distribution System - the existing distribution infrastructure. The first such system was created in the 1960s by the airline industry as the way to monitor flight schedules, prices and availability. And though accused by many of using legacy system technology, the Global Distribution Systems were in fact the world's first e-commerce companies, facilitating electronic commerce.
There currently exist four major booking systems used for making airline, cruise, and hotel and car rental reservations all over the world, including Apollo, Amadeus, Worldspan and Sabre. Through these systems customers and travel agents can access a number of airlines, car rental companies and hotels to make bookings.
Another category comprises the Internet Distribution Systems, which are websites on the Internet, providing electronic booking of hotel reservations. It goes without saying that hotels benefit greatly from the reach of Electronic Distribution channels, providing millions of travelers worldwide with the opportunity to access hotel inventory, make bookings and receive immediate confirmation.
In addition to such major Global Distribution Systems as Galileo, Sabre, Amadeus, HEDNA, Worldspan and Pegasus Solutions, there exist a number of smaller GDS, including Infini, SITA Sahara, Fantasia, Abacus and Tapas just to name a few. Established in 1987 by Air France, SAS, Iberia and Lufthansa, Amadeus is recognized as the youngest of Global Distribution Systems and a leading technology provider that serves the distribution, marketing and sales needs of the world's tourism and travel industries.
Amadeus' comprehensive data network serves over 57,000 travel agency locations and 10,500 airline sale offices in 200 markets worldwide. It also provides access to more than 58,000 hotel operators and 50 car rental companies operating in 24,000 locations worldwide.
Ranked with the major Global Distribution Systems, Galileo International was created in 1993 by eleven major European and North American airlines and has managed to grow since then into an important electronic global services provider throughout the world. Currently Galileo is represented in 116 countries, serving travel agencies in nearly 45,000 locations. Among other suppliers are 500 airlines, 368 tour operators, 227 hotel operators and 33 car rental companies.
An important player in the GDS business, HEDNA is a non-profit association with the membership exceeding 200 influential companies in the hotel distribution industry. Its membership is open to any individual or company, whose purposes, goals and actions comply with those of the organization. The HEDNA conference 2005 held in December 4-6 at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, highlighted channel measurement, keynote speakers and global travel industry trends and statistics.
As the only travel conference designed for the electronic distribution industry, HEDNA is recognized as the most important source of information that influence electronic distribution world.