With the rebound in the economy and in travel, there are some key steps independents can take now to make the most of every booking channel and ramp up your competitiveness.

But first, let's get on the same page. An independent hotel, as I see it, is an individual property or a small group of hotels. It typically has independent ownership and may have multiple investors. It may be self managed or may be part of a group of properties that share the same management company. However managed, the fundamental differentiator between independents and chain hotels is that chains share in a widely recognized brand name and chain code.

The GDS

For most of us, the GDS (global distribution system) has always been an important channel, yet it is always the one we seem to know the least about. Unlike with your website or the online travel agencies, the GDS information is not at your fingertips. However, the information within these systems, and how we play in them, is crucial in the production that you receive. For the first time in many years, the rebound of offline travel bookings is outpacing the growth of online travel bookings. Corporate travel budgets are expected to jump by 4.5% in 2011. While bookings will not reach the record highs of 2007, things are improving and are expected to keep gaining momentum into 2012. With the growth of offline travel, now may be the time to take advantage of GDS opportunities.

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