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Hotel GDS

It’s an understatement to say that, in recent years, marketing a hotel has become more complicated. The digital revolution has expanded booking opportunities – leading to a dizzying array of online travel agents (OTAs), website opportunities and social media platforms to take advantage of, and direct booking engines to build and deploy.

So, where does that leave the humble hotelier? In need of an effective distribution strategy, that’s where – so their property is noticed by travellers, they can successfully convert those lookers into bookers and can drive up conversion rate. Here are a few pointers on how to go about that.

Use your customer data

Hotel revenue management

First, you need to understand the make-up of your customer base. Now, data is everything in today’s world, whatever the industry or sector, and it’s imperative you get stuck into your hotel’s revenue management data and break it down. The different behaviour of your customers will determine how you reach them.

Broadly put, they can be categorised as lower-yield and higher-yield travellers. The former group comprises those who book early (reliable customers who may book several times a year; generally, business travellers). The latter group comprises those who book much closer to check-in (through online travel agents – OTAs – or your own booking engine, should you have one, which means they’re far less reliable but pay higher-rates; they’re usually a mix of leisure and business travellers).

Reach across the channels

Hotel distribution channels

Once you understand how your customers book, you can target each of them via specific hotel distribution channels – but not necessarily just online channels. While we may live in the digital age, some of the customers you’ll want to reach – often older travellers – will still be more analogue than others.

So, your online distribution channels will most likely include OTAs, your own website and social media platforms (the latter directing customers to your booking engine, ideally). Your old-school offline channels, if you want to use these, will include wholesalers, tour operators and voice reservation services.

What’s your customer acquisition cost?

Addressing this is critical. If you haven’t calculated how much it’s costing you to convert each customer, all your efforts will be for nought. Yes, the devil’s in the detail.

Customer acquisition cost

Not only does it cost whenever you receive a booking via an OTA, due to a commission fee, it also does when you receive one via your booking engine (thanks to hosting and marketing charges). Now, cost-wise, of course, the latter is definitely preferable to the former but, you still need to calculate the precise figures – if you don’t, you’ll never work out the outlay for your distribution strategy. And you’ll never work out how much more one channel costs you than another and so, in turn, which of them to prioritise with your strategy.

Indeed, if you have invested in your own booking engine, so your customers can book direct and even compare live OTA rates with your own direct rate (via a hotel rate comparison tool), you’ll likely want to prioritise the channels that supply this – but without neglecting the others. Put simply, knowing your customer acquisition cost empowers you to properly plan and confidently implement.

Let content optimise your conversion rate

In today’s digital landscape, content is just as crucial as data. In part, that’s because the more channels you’re using, the more content you’re putting out there – and the more opportunity there is to let the quality of that content slip.

conversion rate

Your content, then, needs consistency across all channels. Whatever the platform, campaign or promotion, the content needs to remain as compelling and as on-brand as possible. That said, don’t overlook the need for personalised content (e.g. only target an email promotion for your property’s meeting rooms to meeting planners). And, of course, this is all true for your static content. The room prices, descriptions, images and calls to action (CTAs) on your website must be up-to-date and correct.

So, finally, to round up; implementing a successful distribution strategy isn’t impossible but does require preparation and dedication. Yes, the liberation of hotel bookings over the last few years may appear to have unleashed a monster, but it’s one that can be tamed – and entirely used to your advantage.

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Hotel GDS

The hotel industry is making optimal use of digital marketing to improve profitability. The advent of new technology has led to a steady rise in hotel bookings made through online booking via apps and websites. While working with OTAs has remained important an increasing number of hotels now prefer to opt for direct bookings besides standard third-party channels.

Hotel digital marketing is the key to adopting new strategies to improve bookings, raise profits and improve customer service levels. The use of a first-rate digital marketing agency like Digital Hotelier can make all the difference between staying competitive and steaming ahead.

From ensuring your hotel booking engine is performing at peak levels to adopting the right digital marketing mediums, every aspect is analysed and professionally managed.

Some ways in which a professional digital marketing agency will help in 2018 are:

Aim for direct bookings:

If you do not already have a direct booking option at your hotel website, 2018 is the year to get it. There is a trend with hotels opting for direct booking besides using traditional OTAs as booking channels. Get a new booking engine installed for direct bookings, which are commission free.

Fine tune the website:

The easier a website is to navigate the more the booking it receives. Guests who book through OTAs also frequently visit the hotel website to check about amenities, services, accommodation etc. The more relevant the content, the higher is the probability of gaining customers.  The website optimisation must ensure it works well across all web devices. An increasing number of customers are using smartphones and mobile devices to book rooms, so it must be mobile friendly.

Content still rules:

The more relevant and useful the content the more it will benefit your business. With visitors spending more time to check websites before deciding to make bookings, their preferences and time have to be valued. Having well-defined content across distribution channels and the website, with all essential information easy to locate, will positively impact hotel bookings. For this, actively publish press releases, blogs and videos of hotel activities. The more innovative you are, the easier it is to remain competitive.

Use of social media:

Social media is the future of marketing with sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter playing a critical role in marketing. Guest can be encouraged to share and like the website homepage on the social media accounts. It will lead to greater brand recognition and the greater the number of followers the more influence the hotel business will have. Positive online web presence through social media will be the focus of digital marketing companies in 2018.

Engage through emails:

Since it began email marketing has played a key role in marketing hotels across the Internet. Have well written promotional emails sent to guests from your hotel website’s database. From the latest special offers to new affiliate partners they can benefit from keeping them updated to the latest happenings at the hotel.

The key objective for the hospitality industry in 2018, is to fine-tune their digital marketing strategy and strengthen customer engagement, through innovative business practices.

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Hotel GDS

How many distribution channels does your hotel have? Once set up, how often do you return to that distribution channel to ensure you are making the most out of it and taking every chance that exists to win more customers? If you’re like most hotel businesses, the answer could well be, not very often. Many will identify a distribution opportunity, such as partnering with an online travel agent, and once set-up, revert to auto-pilot, where the channel is fed inventory but little effort put in to figuring out what other opportunities it could present to drive up bookings.

If you’re guilty of leaving many of your chosen global distribution services to look after themselves to a certain extent without constantly asking how you can get more from each channel, we’re here to help. Read on for five ways that you can use both new and existing distribution channels to take more bookings.

Tip 1: Extract the most vale and data possible from every indirect channel

Regardless of the global distribution services you use, it’s a good bet that you aren’t extracting 100% of their value. An indirect channel such as Expedia offers its accommodation partners a slew of added value to help grow bookings, if you dive deep enough. Look at all available performance indicators and benchmarks available to you from each of your indirect distribution channels – things such as revenue earned, performance versus competitors, the number of bookings going to competitors provide ample data to facilitate better decision making. In turn, having this insight can help to incite needed changes to win more bookings and take business back from competitors.

distribution channels

Tip 2: Pick your distribution channels strategically

When working with global distribution services, you’ll have access to a range of distribution channels. Being strategic about your choices can help you to better reach key segments of your demographic and win more of the right kind of bookings.

If you’re not attracting enough business travellers directly for example, choosing a corporate travel indirect channel is a great way to win more business travel bookings.

Tip 3: Leverage local demand

With powerful OTAs and meta search engines at your fingertips, are your global distribution services leaving local demand underserved? Whatever your hotel niche and location, there will be local distribution channels that you could add to your distribution network to win more bookings. Reaching out to local businesses, business parks, tourist attractions, business networks or government organisations for example could yield a notable influx of new bookings.

Tip 4: Win back business from competitors on indirect channels

Indirect distribution channels can be used as a way to steal a march on competitors. You can use the reports provided within the partner dashboards of indirect channels such as Expedia to trace where business is being lost to competitors. This data is invaluable – you can use it to enhance your value proposition against those competitors winning more bookings. You can also use it to tailor your approach on each distribution channel, allowing you to beat competitors on price, by room rate or another key decision-making factor.

Tip 5: Don’t forget your direct channels

When working with distribution channels, keep in mind that your direct channels will offer the lowest cost per acquisition. Ensuring you invest time, effort and resources into drawing traffic through them as well as your indirect channels will give guests a choice of booking options.

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Hotel GDS

When you think about how much has changed in the travel industry since it first became popular in the 70s, you might think that distribution channels have changed enormously. That’s not the case, but in 2018 and beyond the industry could see a significant shift in the way bookings are made.

Technology has transformed the travel sector. No longer do tourists need to call up a phone operator to make a booking through a dedicated system, they simply head online and the transaction is complete in minutes. But despite this, the basics of the technology deployed within the sector, including hotel distribution channels, has its roots in technology developed in the 1970s.

your distribution channels

With huge improvements being made within the customer journey and booking experience in the last decade alone the fact the basics haven’t changed may be surprising. After all, at the turn of the 21st century, there aren’t many hoteliers that would have predicted that a huge portion of their reservations would be made through mobiles. Or that apps would need to be created and integrated into hotel reservation system software to build on sales.

However, the technology for handling travel sales and transactions between companies that purchase travel for guests has remained almost the same since inception. These systems, known as global distribution systems (GDS) have played a significant role in shaping travel and allowing the industry to expand. The way people book might have changed but online travel agents still use GDS platforms to understand availability and make bookings.

After the first innovative GDS hit the market, many hospitality companies invested in creating their own. But with different interfaces and agents having to go to multiple points to gather all the information needed, it meant the process was time consuming. Today, the sector’s been streamlined with just four companies dominating the GDS market. But could this be about to change?

How are hotel distribution channels changing?

The way the travel sector is using technology and the advancements being made means that ways of working that were put in place decades ago could be changing, and it could affect your hotel reservation system software too.

Firstly, while the market of GDS has shrunk to just four key players, this could be about to shift. The rise of online travel agents has changed the way that people research, compare, and book their travel options. It’s also meant that hotels, airlines, and other industry players have changed their relationship with these companies. Today many businesses have forged direct lines of communication to improve the experience both parties deliver the consumer.

It doesn’t mean that GDS is becoming obsolete but its dominance in the marketplace, and particularly that of the four largest providers, could be set to slip.

Recognising that they could reduce commission expenses and tailor consumer experiences, more hoteliers are looking at direct bookings with a renewed focus. In turn, this is affecting the influence that GDS operators hold. While hotels still need to establish relationships with OTAs, a boost to direct bookings could further reduce the reliance on GDS technology.

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Hotel GDS

Digital distribution is a dominant concern for modern hoteliers, as more and more of the hotel trade takes its business online. Digital marketing is ever-evolving into an increasingly complicated sector, but one with the power to transform a hotel’s potential into a profit-driving business and allow hoteliers to take back control of direct bookings. If you’re wrestling against online travel agents or finding your hotel’s own visibility isn’t what it should, you may also have noticed that your direct bookings are down, your web traffic is down and your reservations systems for hotels is showing a much lower occupancy rate than is desirable.

Resetting your digital distribution and taking steps to streamline, optimise and maximise your online distribution channels is a strategic process that can benefit a number of other operational areas.

If you haven’t yet audited your digital distribution channels this year, read on for our tips to optimise your online global distribution systems ready for a prosperous 2018.

Understand Your Channel Value

A keen understanding of the various digital channels available is paramount to achieving optimisation and generating increased revenue through these channels. This can be more complicated than it may initially seem, as the channels which work especially well for one hotel will differ from another. What’s more, in the modern digital landscape you need to consider the omnichannel experience in addition to identifying problems and opportunities at an individual channel level.

Much of this comes down to target audience – who is your ideal hotel guest, and where are they looking? Where best can they be reached in the digital space? Common concerns such as budget are also key to making the most of your own possibilities. A specialist provider of global distribution services such as Digital Hotelier will be able to help point you in the direction of the correct digital distribution channels for your hotel and help you understand the value of each.

Digital Distribution

Keep on Top of Trends

The rapid pace of change in digital makes it imperative to stay connected to shifting trends, and pay close attention to how these can be melded into your own strategy for digital distribution. Whilst some trends may seem out of reach for your hotel, never be afraid of ambitious plans if they are goal-oriented and rooted in the true needs of your business.

Monitor Demand

Know the demand for individual rooms and deals on the market. This follows on from an awareness of trends and allows you to capitalise on the full hotel experience as it appeals to your customer base. Be cautious of adopting methods which are unsuited to your hotel or market segment, but stay agile and adopt a flexible reservation system for hotels so you can shift your strategy as required.

Assess Scope of Revenue Management

As with all other aspects of running a profitable hotel, revenue management continues to evolve to suit the changing landscape of modern hospitality. Remaining aware and well-informed helps hoteliers to meet the unique challenges of the industry by maximizing their digital distribution channels. Not only can this help boost revenue in the short term, but it also aids hotels in future-proofing their operation.

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Hotel GDS

The modern hotel industry is dependent on technology – to manage bookings, room inventory and for marketing. The system of managing wholesale rates and availability which bridges the gap between the guest, hotel and travel agents goes back as far as the 1950s.

While you might think of your own global distribution system hotel tool as being incredibly modern and at the cutting edge of the industry, the concept of a global distribution system is almost 70 years old. It might sound archaic to suggest that the answer to your contemporary problem of how to increase tours and activities bookings could lie so far back in the archives but, that’s actually very much the case.

A little bit of history

The first global distribution system hotel industry professionals will recognise emerged in the 1950s as the result of a joint project between computer firm IBM and American Airlines. Other airlines soon switched on to the benefits of the AA and IBM invention, creating their own alternatives in quick successes – Delta created DATAS while United Airlines dubbed its GDS Apollo. The American Airlines GDS was the benchmark, right through to the 1980s, and the system used by most travel agents for inventory purposes.

Amadeus launched in 1988, followed by the likes of Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan.

Why are global distribution system hotel links so important today?

It’s not enough to simply have a booking engine for website visitors. Without connectivity to a global distribution system like Amadeus or Sabre, your hotel may as well be invisible, with all of its doors locked and phones switched off. Connectivity with a GDS is your passport to travel agents and tour operators.

Online Booking

The global distribution system software creates a communication gateway between hotels and other travel providers and travel agents and tour operators, who can use the GDS to carry out automated transactions.

Today’s global distribution systems also have close links with online travel agents – such as Amadeus’ link with Opodo and Sabre’s investment in Travelocity.

Can you use this system to increase your tours and activities bookings and further develop that revenue stream?

If you have struggled thus far to increase your tours and activities bookings, and find that your booking engine for website visitors doesn’t generate enough tours sales, the good news is you aren’t alone. Many activities and tours providers face the same problem – too few suppliers and far too little inventory in reservation systems connected to distribution systems.

Being able to use GDS in the same way as other travel services do could give you access to a much larger network than is likely the case now. This increased exposure means it’s much more probable that you’d see a growth in sales of both tours and activities that you may offer supplementary to your main accommodation service. With connection to a GDS, ancillary products such as tours could be sold alongside the primary hotel reservation, helping to increase sales.

There are barriers to this of course, not least of which is technology and adoption. More suppliers overall would need to use third party booking systems connected to global distribution systems.

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Hotel GDS

A GDS, or global distribution system, is essentially a huge computer network that passes your inventory details to travel sites and agents around the world. It means you can manage your up-to-date information easily and don’t have to worry whether information is getting transferred to the right sites and locations.

There are wide number of benefits that a reliable hotel global distribution system offers:

1. Gaining Worldwide Exposure

Nowhere is GDS more important than in the hotel industry. Making sure that your inventory is as accessible as possible and, just as importantly, reflects current prices and availability, is vital if you want to accept bookings from travel sites, agents and other outlets.

Around the world, these business use increasingly sophisticated methods to find the best deals for their users and clients. Having a robust, responsive GDS hotel software system, therefore, gives you instant access to the global market place and a tried and trusted way of building revPar.

2. Better B2B and B2C Distribution

Not only does a GDS system allow you to provide customers with the information they need, it helps you maintain those B2B distributions and services. The more visible you are, the more bookings you should realistically expect to get.

analysing

3. Providing an Entry Door for Corporate Bookers

Corporate customers are often looking for similar deals and choices which they are able to get as private customers. GDS have been changing the landscape over the last few years, integrating what has traditionally been called B2B leisure. That means the boundaries between what one demographic is offered compared to another is continuously blurred. Without access to a hotel global distribution system, many hotels will not be able to attract corporate bookers.

4. Giving Travel Agents 24/7 Access to Your Inventory

We are constantly looking for good deals. That includes travel agents who are competing with other agents to provide the best for their customers. They can’t do this if they don’t have immediate access to your inventory whenever they need it – GDS delivers 24/7 coverage so you don’t have to worry if relevant parties are getting your latest rates and occupancy information.

5. Actionable Information in Real Time

While you may be able to keep up with the changes in technology at a local level, if you’re hoping to attract guests from around the world, it’s increasingly difficult to do this without providing real time information that potential guests can take action on. Being able to update prices or room availability in real time allows you to constantly stay ahead of the game. This is critical for increasing occupancy rates and revenues.

6. The More Rooms You Have The More Important GDS Becomes

Two criteria mark a GDS hotel software system down as an important tool for businesses. One is the number of rooms your hotel has and the other is where you are located. This means that hotels with 25 rooms or more which are located in a popular travel destination are going to need to compete more with those around them. In these cases, hotels should realistically expect to get enough bookings via GDS without compromising their revenue and achieving a decent ROI.

GDS is the tool that allows you to compete successfully on the global market place and gives your hotel the exposure it needs to fill those rooms all year round. While it can lead to lowered prices for rooms in order to compete with local competition, it also means you are part of the market place rather than excluded from it. Get in touch with Digital Hotelier today to find out what sets our distribution system apart.
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Hotel GDS

The GDS has been a vital part of the hospitality industry for decades, with the first one created back in the 1960s. This ‘Global Distribution System’ acts as a central reservation system for different strands of the hospitality and travel industry, from airlines to hotels.

If you work within hospitality, you’ve probably used this hotel global distribution system hundreds of times already – but you may still have questions about what it is, how it works and why it’s important for venues in the travel and hospitality sector. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about GDS.

What is the GDS?

The GDS is a colossal computer network designed to collate and share information from a multitude of different sources. It gathers data on rates and availability from hotels, airlines, rental car companies and other travel organisations and passes it onto the end user – usually a travel agency or an OTA. It also facilitates automated transactions between all of these providers. If you’ve ever booked a trip through a travel agent, it’s likely they were using the GDS. Likewise, if you’ve ever booked through a site like Kayak or Expedia, you’ve tapped into the GDS yourself.

Where does the GDS’ data come from?

Well-known systems including Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan and Pegasus feed information into the GDS.

Is the GDS different to a central reservation system (CRS)?

Yes. A central reservation system is used by individual organisations, such as your hotel. It allows you to manage your own inventory and any reservations made by customers. Anyone wanting to book a room at your hotel will interact directly with your CRS.

The GDS has a different purpose. It allows the end user (whether it’s an agent or a customer) to compare prices, feature and facilities across a range of hotels, often without any direct contact with the hotel. Sites like Expedia and Kayak are the ‘portals’ used to access these enormous databases of information.

global-distribution-system

Why is the GDS important?

Hundreds of thousands of travel agents and even more consumers tap into the GDS every single day. If your hotel is listed as an option on the GDS, your visibility will be enormously increased. You can also use the tool to market special offers and discounts to travel agents or OTAs, which could increase your visibility (and bookings) even further.

How do I get my hotel onto the GDS?

You’ll need to use a portal like Amadeus or Sabre to become listed on the GDS. These portals charge a commission, and there’s a one-off set-up fee to get you started. Think of it like your home internet – you pay an internet service provider to gain access to the internet, just like you’d pay a portal like Travelport or Amadeus to gain access to the GDS.

Does my hotel have to be on the GDS?

Not necessarily – many experts believe that small hotels joining the hotel global distribution system will not be able to accommodate enough bookings to justify the ongoing cost. But for hotels with around twenty-five rooms or more, situated in a busy or popular destination, the benefits generally outweigh the costs. It’s worth looking into a GDS option that suits your hotel’s specific needs.

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Hotel GDS
The online world is changing, and for an industry that has seen almost unprecedented growth in the last few years, that’s a big issue. It’s not enough that customers are turning more and more to online channels to book hotel stays—hotels need to respond appropriately, keeping several steps ahead of the consumer so they’re not left behind by the industry.

Finding online distribution solutions for hotels is much easier than it used to be, but conversely it’s also become more crucial. A hotel not using pooled inventory with the help of these systems could be waving goodbye to hundreds of pounds in lost bookings. In fact, as the world becomes ever more connected, global distribution services could be the difference between a hotel staying open or closing its doors.

Hoteliers are frequently challenged by three main things, all of which are difficult to avoid in 2017 and will only become harder to stay away from as the year marches on.

1. The constantly changing and evolving landscape online

The experience of hoteliers online is of an industry that is very complex, hyper-competitive and not just when prices are involved, highly dynamic and filled with customers who know exactly what they want even if the hotel doesn’t offer it. When companies offer help, they coach it in specialised terms which can be tough for the hotel workers to understand.

As non-experts, hoteliers say the flurry of online distribution solutions for hotels is dizzying at best and horribly confusing at worst. They may not have the time or knowledge to keep up with the latest developments in the field and could be missing out on alternatives like better global distribution services.

online-distribution-solutions
2. The change and rise of online travel agents (OTA)

Hoteliers always want to book more guests directly, but unless they start using online distribution solutions for hotels then they risk being frozen out of the market entirely.

The key is to use these services intelligently, retaining the use of instant booking on their own sites and having a passing knowledge of things like meta search, so that OTAs don’t appear as some mystical arbiter of global distribution services and hotels can do the basics themselves.

3. The evolution of technology

Hoteliers are often buffeted with offers of increased connectivity, cross-device websites and booking systems, but the sophistication that so often is taken for granted amongst makers of software can be confusing or seen as a waste of money by the hoteliers unless it is presented in everyday language.

Another prescient issue is that, although hoteliers want to offer the best to their clients and their potential customers, they are the ones who have to fix a system if it goes wrong. If the system is so advanced that fixing it is a daunting task, hoteliers simply won’t invest. Customers appreciate convenience, but there are not many hotel workers who would trade a slightly more convenient customer experience for a new system that is confusing to use and can easily display the wrong information.
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Hotel GDS
There’s no denying it, the digital revolution of the past few years has changed the face of how hoteliers conduct their business. The ability to attract and connect with prospective visitors and post-visitors via websites, social media, apps and emails has afforded hotels opportunities like never before. And yet, that’s far from all.

Hotel GDS
Thanks to today’s digital technology, independent hotels are also able to tap into a network used by travel agents across the world, ensuring they’re in the mix when these thousands upon thousands of agents are looking to place hotel, air and car rental reservations for their clients.

The Global Distribution System (GDS) then acts as a lucrative reservation tool for hotels the world over because it can turn into a major revenue source for them. It works by connecting individual hotels with four global distribution channels – Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan – all of which are used by travel agents.

And, should a hotelier be introduced into the GDS via a respected and dependable partner like Digital Hotelier, then entry into the system will also open them up to major globally-operational travel management companies (TMCs). Between them, these companies and their regional consortia book in excess of $100 billion of corporate travel each year – often for the biggest businesses in the world.

Surely then it’s no surprise that GDS production’s year-on-year growth now stands at between 5% and 10% globally. It’s a hugely appealing revenue channel for any and every individual hotel that’s going from strength to strength. And if you’re still in doubt as to whether you want your property to become one of the GDS hotels or not, consider this:   
  • Exposure – how can you possibly gain your hotel a better reach across the world than via GDS?
  • Revenue – it ought to be pointed out that, of course, the GDS may not be a perfect fit for every individual hotel out there, but unless you look into it how will you know whether you stand to gain from it or not? The fact is, simply, that it’s a gigantic corporate booking source, so could prove a huge revenue channel.
In which case, there’s no question that, should you run accommodation outside of a hotel chain, it’s absolutely in your interest to look closely at and consider joining the Global Distribution System; it could prove a significant revenue contributor and make for a major boost to your bottom line.
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