Computer reservation systems, or central reservation systems CRS , are systems used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to aviation, hotels, car rental, or other activities. Initially designed and run by airlines, CRSs were afterwards extended for use by travel agencies. Global distribution systems GDS to reserve and market tickets for numerous airlines. Most airlines have outsourced their CRSs into GDS businesses, which additionally empower consumer accessibility through Internet gateways. Modern GDSs generally also enable users to reserve hotel rooms, rental cars, airline tickets as well as some other activities and tours. They also provide access to railway reservations and bus reservations in some markets, but these aren’t always integrated with the major system. These can also be utilized to relay automatic information for consumers in the hotel business, making reservation and ensuring that the hotel isn’t overbooked.
Airline reservations systems might be integrated into a larger passenger service system, which also includes an airline stock system and a departure control system.
In , United Airlines installed the first automated booking system, the experimental electromechanical Reservisor. A more recent machine with temporary storage based on a magnetic drum, the Magnetronic Reservisor, soon followed. This system was effective, and was soon being used by several airlines, as well as Sheraton Hotels and Goodyear for stock management. It had been severely hampered by the need for local human operators to perform the actual lookups ticketing agents would have to telephone a booking office, whose operators could guide a small team running the Reservisor and then read the results within the phone. There was no way for agents to directly question the system. citation needed
The MARS train ticket reservation system was designed and intended in the s by the Japanese National Railways’ R&D Institute, now the Railway Technical Research Institute, together with the system eventually being produced by Hitachi at . It had been the world’s first chair reservation system for trains. The MARS was capable of booking seat positions, and was commanded by a transistor computer with a central processing unit and a , bit magnetic drum memory device to hold seating files. It utilized many registers, to indicate whether chairs in a train were empty or booked to accelerate searches of and updates to chair patterns, for communications with terminals, printing reservation notices, and CRT displays.
In , Trans Canada Airlines TCA began investigating a computer based system with remote adapters, testing one design on the University of Toronto’s Manchester Mark machine that summer. Though effective, the investigators found that output and input proved to be a significant issue. Ferranti Canada became involved in the project and suggested that a new system using punched cards and a transistorized computer in place of this unreliable tube based Mark I. The resulting system, ReserVec, began operation in , and took over all reservation operations in January . Terminals were placed in all of TCA’s ticketing offices, permitting all inquiries and bookings to finish in about one second with no remote operators desired.
In , United Airlines CEO C. R. Smith chose to sit next to R. Blair Smith, a senior IBM sales agent, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. C.R. invited Blair to visit their Reservisor platform and search for methods that IBM could enhance the system. Blair alerted Thomas Watson Jr. that United was fascinated in a significant collaboration, and a series of low level studies began. Their By the time that the network was finished in December , it was the biggest civil data processing system in the world.
Other airlines established their own systems. Pan United World Airways launched its PANAMAC platform in . United Air Lines launched the United Automated Travel Account System DATAS in . Shortly, travel agents began pushing for a system that can automate their side of this process by obtaining the various ARSes right to make reservations. Fearful this could place too much power in the hands of agents, United Airlines executive Robert Crandall suggested creating an industry wide computer reservation system to be a central clearing house for U.S. traveling other airlines demurred, citing fear of antitrust prosecution.
In , United began offering its Apollo system to travel agents while it wouldn’t enable the agents to reserve tickets on United’s opponents, the advertising value of this convenient terminal proved indispensable. SABRE, PARS, and DATAS were soon released to travel agents as well. After airline deregulation in , an efficient CRS proved especially important by a few counts, Texas Air executive Frank Lorenzo purchased money losing Eastern Air Lines specifically to gain control of its own SystemOne CRS.
Also in Videcom worldwide with British Airways, British Caledonian and CCL launched Travicom, the world’s first multi access reservations platform wholly based on Videcom technology, forming a network supplying distribution for united airlines reservations number initially two and then subscribing foreign airlines including British Airways, British Caledonian, TWA, Pan United World Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, SAS, Air Canada, KLM, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific and JAL to thousands of travel agents in the UK. It allowed agents and airlines to communicate via a common distribution speech and network, handling of UK airline company trade bookings by . Travicom was a trading name for Travel Automation Services Ltd.. When BA who by then owned percent of Travel Automation Services Ltd chose to participate in the development of the Galileo system Travicom changed its trading name to Galileo UK and a migration process was set in place to transfer agencies from Travicom into Galileo.
European airlines also began to invest in the area in the s initially by devoting their own reservation systems within their homeland, propelled by growth in demand for travel as well as technological advances which allowed GDSes to provide ever increasing services and searching power. In , a consortium headed by Air France and West Germany’s Lufthansa developed Amadeus, modeled on SystemOne. Amadeus Global Travel Distribution premiered in . In , United, Northwest Airlines, and Trans World Airlines formed Worldspan, and in , another consortium including British Airways, KLM, and United Airlines, among others shaped the competing company Galileo International based on Apollo. Numerous smaller businesses like KIU also have formed, aimed at niche markets not catered for by the four largest networks, for instance, low cost carrier section, and small and medium size regional and domestic airlines.
For many years that the GDSs had a dominant position in the travel industry. To bypass the GDS, and avo > Another option to bypass the GDSs is direct link to travel agencies. United Airlines’ direct link is a notable example of this development.