Computer Reservation System (CRS)

Computer Reservation System (CRS) is one of the most widely used tools in the Travel and Tourism Industry. In fact, it has revolutionized the whole industry. 

What is a Computer Reservation System?

A computer reservation system or a central reservation system (CRS) is a web-based software used by travel agencies and travel management companies to retrieve and conduct transactions related to air travel, hotels, car rental, or other activities. It was originally designed to be used by airlines but was later extended to be used by travel agencies and Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to book and sell tickets for multiple airlines.

The main objective of CRS was to make a one-stop service shop and eliminate physical and geographical distances between mediators and consumers. With universal coverage, these distribution systems provide information for airlines, hotels, car rental companies, travel agencies, corporations and more.

If you want to focus only on a specific travel-related service like offering air tickets, a CRS will be useful. If you want to tap into multiple services, using a CRS is not advisable.

The term CRS is not much used as it has become part of a bigger system known as the Passenger Service System (PSS) which comprises CRS, an airline inventory system and the departure control system (DCS).

History and Evolution of Computer Reservation System

Before the development of CRS, tourists had to depend on the information provided by suppliers through printed brochures, flyers and listings in local and regional travel guides. As a result, the promotional materials were costly, labor-intensive and information remained static when the data needed to be changed frequently.

To facilitate a smooth and dynamic flow of information, the first CRS was introduced as an experiment in the 1960s by airlines to keep track of sold seats. In 1963, SABRE (Semi-Automated Business Research Environment), the world’s first CRS was introduced by American Airlines. After that, CRS became the primary means of distributing air travel information and had a major impact on competition within the airline sector. In 1976, travel agencies started using them and henceforth became a universal feature of the tourism industry.

What Are Some of the Basic Functions of Computer Reservation Systems in the Travel Industry?

Here are some of the basic functions in a CRS:

  • Displays travel services with prices and images
  • Inventory and reservation management
  • User friendly reservation system
  • Online payment gateway integration
  • Customer data management
  • Email notifications
  • Booking cancellation and refund management

What Are the Major Airline CRS Systems?

The term CRS is not much used as it has become part of a bigger system known as the Passenger Service System (PSS) which comprises of CRS, an airline inventory system and the departure control system (DCS).

Here are some of the major players in this field are:

  • Aircore an Airline PSS Powered by Microsoft Azure
  • Avantik PSS
  • Abacus
  • ACCELaero
  • Axess
  • KIU
  • MARS
  • Radixx

What Are the Benefits of Travel Computer Reservation Systems?

Here are some of the benefits of CRS

  • All the services-related customer information such as Passenger Name Record (PNR) or Guest Name Record (GNR) are recorded
  • Invoicing, accounting, customer and quota management is possible
  • High speed network of information infrastructure
  • Fare quote, ticketing and voucher generating process
  • System can also store customer related information such as all the services provided to a certain customer, type of payment, service information etc
  • CRS are web based applications which saves a lot of time on administration work
  • Interfaces with technologies such as Amadeus, Travelport and APIs/XMLs
  • Suitable for B2B and B2C business models
  • Includes a comprehensive admin console
  • Offers custom reporting

All of the CRSs carry out four basic functions. They are,

  • Display products and services offered by various tourism providers
  • Passenger or guest name record
  • Fare quotation and ticketing depending on the complexity of the services offered
  • Provision of information about trade shows, visa regulations, and payment gateways

Access of CRS to Travel Agents

During 1976, the Apollo system was offered to travel agents which provided immense convenience. Soon after that, SABRE, PARS and DATAS gave access to travel agents as well. During the same year, some of the British Airways joined hands and launched Travicom, the world’s first multi-access reservations system. It allowed agents and airlines to communicate via a common distribution language and network. 97% of the UK’s airline business trade bookings were done through this channel by 1987.

An airline deregulation act was passed in 1978 to control fares, routes, and market entry of new airlines. So a CRS proved particularly important.

In the 1980s, European airlines also began to invest in this field due to the demand for advancements in travel. After that, many travel technologies such as Amadeus and Worldspan were introduced. An even smaller company such as KIU was formed to carter low-cost carriers.

In conclusion, the CRS technology has reached a point where it would be hard for travel agents to do their work without it. As a major distribution channel, it functions as a powerful sales outlet.