article on key hotel online distribution terms

Understanding Key Hotel Online Distribution Terminologies

AxisRooms Marketing
AxisRooms Marketing

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In this digital age, online hotel reservation is becoming increasingly popular. In this scenario, for hotels, online distribution aims to maximize visibility and bookings by reaching potential guests at various stages of the travel planning process.

Effective online distribution requires managing content, rates, and availability across all platforms, including hotel websites, OTAs, GDSs, metasearch engines, etc. It also requires hotels to constantly analyze those channels/online sales platforms to ensure optimized results - more sales in the long run. But, it could be difficult for you if you are not well versed in some key aspects, like hotel online distribution terminologies. 

No worries. We are here to help. 

Here are some of the key hotel online distribution terminologies 

Online Travel Agency (OTA)

It is a digital/online platform enabling travelers to explore and book hotel accommodations. Hotels - large, small, and groups, all sell their rooms via multiple OTAs worldwide. Although OTAs charge a commission on every booking, partnering with multiple OTAs can increase a hotel's visibility and occupancy. Examples of OTAs are, MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Cleartrip, Agoda, etc.

Read also: Are OTAs Friends or Foes?

Metasearch Engines

It compiles hotel deals/rates/availability from many booking websites, like OTAs and even the hotel's website, offering travelers a wide selection of options based on their preferences. These platforms don't book rooms but compare prices, benefiting hotels by driving bookings directly or indirectly. Some examples of metasearch engines are Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, TripAdvisor, Kayak, HotelsCombined, Wego, etc. 

Global Distribution System (GDS)

A Global Distribution System (GDS) in the context of the hotel industry is a network that enables transactions between travel service providers, such as hotels and travel agencies. It assists travel service providers like travel agents with real-time access to hotel inventories and details like availability, prices, and descriptions, making booking rooms for their clients easier. Hotels use the GDS to distribute their rooms to a broad audience worldwide. Some examples of GDSs are Amadeus, Sabre, and Galileo. 


These are companies that specialize in buying large blocks of hotel rooms at a discounted rate and selling them to various travel-related businesses such as OTAs, travel agents, tour operators, airlines, and other accommodation providers. Hotelbeds, HPro Travel, and WebBeds are some of the leading hotel wholesalers. 

Internet/Web Booking Engine

It enables direct reservations through the hotel's website and social media pages.  

Central Reservation System (CRS)

For hotels, it serves as a central tool and unified platform for managing bookings, availability, pricing, and inventory in real time. This system plays a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of hotel operations by consolidating data from the hotel's property management system (Hotel PMS), various distribution networks, and call centers into a single, accessible interface. Sabre's SynXis is a globally known CRS. 

Central Reservation Office (CRO)

It helps hotel chains/groups see availability and manage reservations per the guest's needs across properties from the central call center. It also allows a hotel group to manage travel agents and corporate profiles centrally. 

Channel Manager

A critical solution that helps hotels manage their rates and inventories across multiple OTAs in real-time. It instantly updates all the OTAs when a hotel changes its rates, reflecting the new rate on all OTAs. Similarly, the channel manager updates all the OTAs when there is a change in the hotel's availability. Channel Manager enhances a hotel's OTA visibility, leading to more sales. 

Online Distribution Channel

It includes both online sales channels, like OTAs, hotel websites, metasearch engines, GDSs, etc. 

Read Also: GDS and Channel Manager- Better Together

Hotel Connectivity

Hotel connectivity refers to the methodologies and infrastructures that allow hotels to share their room inventory across various channels, including OTAs, GDSs, hotel websites, metasearch engines, etc. This connection is facilitated by different technological approaches, such as integration between a channel manager and a hotel's property management systems (PMSs).

Direct Booking

Reservations made directly with the hotel, either through the hotel's website, via phone, or in person, without the involvement of third-party intermediaries like OTAs. Hotels don't have to pay any commission for such bookings. 

Indirect Booking

It mainly refers to bookings coming via OTAs. Hotels do have to pay commissions to OTAs for such bookings. 

Rate Parity

Rate Parity is the practice of maintaining consistent rates for the same room type on all distribution channels, regardless of where it is booked.

Understanding some key hotel online distribution terminologies is fundamental to navigating the complex landscape of hotel distribution. It not only aids in ensuring efficient internal operations and strategic planning but also enhances customer interactions and competitive positioning in the market.

You might also like: 50+ Hotel Terminologies and Acronyms

Maximize Online Distribution with Axisrooms Channel Manager 

AxisRooms channel manager is a tool that helps hotels manage their rates, inventory, and bookings across all online channels in real-time. It integrates with leading hotel property management systems (PMS) and updates rates and availability on OTAs and other online sales channels in real time. It helps hotels improve their visibility to reach a wider audience for more bookings and increased revenue. Most importantly, it eliminates double bookings and guest dissatisfaction.