There are a host of hospitality technology solutions available in the market. You have this Cloud-based Hotel PMS System, AI-Powered Revenue Management Tool, Booking Engine, and many others. One such solution is a Hotel Channel Manager, critical to the success of your distribution efforts. This blog will walk you through everything you need about hotel channel manager, its features and benefits. We will also help you select the right one for your hotel.
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So what is a channel manager for hotels?
A hotel channel manager is a solution that helps you distribute your rooms on all your connected sales channels - Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), metasearch engines, Global Distribution Systems (GDSs), and your hotel website. Since it helps you manage all your online sales channels, as mentioned above, the solution is called Channel Manager.
Evolution hotel channel manager?
Channel managers were introduced in the early 2000s. They were treated as independent software solutions, and hotels used to update them manually. But then things started to change with the emergence of Cloud-based Hotel PMS Systems as the most indispensable tool for hotel operations. By around 2010, with technological advancements and keeping hoteliers' changing needs in mind, the hospitality technology fraternity began integrating the Hotel PMS and Channel Manager.
How does a hotel channel manager work?
Thanks to the cloud architecture of both Hotel PMS and channel manager and the seamless integration between them, Hotel PMS can automatically push your hotel's rates, availabilities, and restrictions onto the channel manager for forward distribution across sales channels, including OTAs, GDSs, website, and metasearch engines.
Benefits of channel manager for hotels
Many travellers today depend on OTAs to book their hotels, and that's why as a hotelier, you need to sell your rooms via those OTAs - also referred to as online sales channels. But selling via one of those OTAs will not help. To get more bookings, you must sell via multiple OTAs. It means all your rates and availability should be the same across all the connected OTAs. For example, if you have 15 rooms available now, the same should reflect on all the OTAs. You can't have one OTA showing your availability as 12 and others showing 14.
Here are some of the key benefits you will witness:
#1: Updates your rates, availabilities, and restrictions
It automatically updates all your connected channels the moment your inventory count changes. You have 30 rooms, and five get booked. It will push the same onto all the distribution channels, making it 25 everywhere. Now, two rooms get released and added to your inventory, and the channel manager makes it 27 on all of them. The same goes for rates too. Whatever rate changes you make in the Hotel PMS, the integrated channel manager updates all the online sales channels in real-time. It also lets you set restrictions/limitations for all your distribution channels to get control over how and when your inventory is sold across your connected channels.
#2: Saves time
You must log in to all distribution channels' extranets without a hotel channel manager to update your rates and inventories. This is a labour-intensive, time-consuming, and error-prone process. However, the channel manager handles all these with complete automation, saving almost 90% of your time.
#3: Improves your OTA ranking and sales
Your brand's visibility and ranking on OATs will improve by ensuring that your hotel's rates and availability are consistent. This increased exposure will lead to more potential guests discovering your property when searching for accommodations, ultimately increasing the likelihood of bookings with your hotel.
#4: Boost your hotel's direct bookings
Yes. It is true. As stated above, with high visibility across OTAs, travellers will likely find your hotel. When this happens, most of them will visit your hotel website to see your direct rates. If your website rates are attractive enough and you have a user-friendly booking engine integrated into your website, you are likely to get more direct bookings.
#5: Eliminates overbooking
Unplanned overbooking can negatively impact your hotel's reputation. When you have to say no to your guests, you will have to deal with losing business opportunities. However, utilising a Channel Manager can be highly advantageous as it links all the sales channels and minimises the risk of overbooking by constantly updating availability in real-time. When the last room gets reserved through one channel, all other connected sales channels automatically close the hotel's availability.
How to select a hotel channel manager?
Choosing the appropriate software solution can be difficult, mainly when there are numerous options in the market. But no worries. We will list a few critical points to follow while you source a hotel channel manager solution.
You need to consider some of these important features of the hotel channel manager during your research phase.
#1: Determine your requirements
Start with this. Make sure you have gotten your priorities right. Decide how many online distribution channels you will sell your rooms. Connect your property with OTAs based on your target guest profile - domestic or international, and on which OTAs they book their accommodations. Consider the kind of exposure you want to achieve and the volume of bookings you want to generate via OTAs while selecting your distribution channels.
#2: Look for a hotel channel manager based on its OTA connectivity capabilities
This is very important. Discover the number of Online Travel Agencies integrated with the Channel Manager. The higher the number, the more beneficial it is for you. If you sell on multiple OTAs, check if they are connected to the channel manager for efficient distribution. Also, see how frequently the channel manager vendor adds new OTAs. It will help you distribute new OTAs for more sales and revenue.
In this context, see how many leading and popular OTAs have certified the channel manager as their preferred connectivity partner.
#3: Look for Channel Manager and Cloud-based Hotel PMS integration
As mentioned earlier, using a Hotel PMS with a channel manager is recommended. Check if the solution you select can integrate with your current Hotel PMS. Furthermore, gathering information about its integration with other Cloud-based Hotel PMS options is helpful. It will help you seamlessly transition to a new Hotel PMS while still retaining your current channel manager.
#4: Look at the cost
Think about how much it will cost you. Tech companies have different ways of charging you. They might charge you every month based on how many rooms you have. Another example could be Channel Manager App, for which you might have to pay more per user. Carefully look at your requirements. If you want only your revenue manager to use the app, you need to spend one user fee. The idea here is to save as much as possible to make it cost-effective.
#5: Ask how soon the vendor can take your property live
You can't afford to not sell rooms on OTA while the new channel manager takes time to integrate with all of them. That's why the vendor must clarify how soon the integration process can be done. Also, check how long it will take to establish two-way connectivity with your existing Hotel PMS. The earlier you do it, the quicker you can begin selling your rooms while not losing your business to the competition.
#6: Look at hotel channel manager reports
Reports are essential to gain insights into your distribution capabilities and efforts. It must generate several reports on OTA/channel-wise booking numbers, which channel gets you more bookings, which channel gets you more RevPAR and all. You will need these reports to optimise your distribution efforts to sell more and generate more revenue.
#5: Look for ease of use
While pooled inventory enables you to sell all your inventory on all your online sales channels simultaneously, it is crucial to see how easy it is to use. Try to find out the support that the vendor provides. Do some research on the vendor's credibility by looking at software comparison sites and their client testimonials.
Hopefully, you have found answers to all your questions about a hotel channel manager. It's time to select the best one for your hotel and benefit from automated distribution.