Keeping an eye on the fast-changing hospitality technology landscape is a significant challenge as solution providers keep adding new features to their products and offerings. And if you are not sure about what kind of operational excellence and benefits you are planning to gain out of your tech investment, you will always struggle to select the right solution. One such tricky area is finding the right hotel channel manager solution for your hotel distribution.
What is a channel manager, and what it does?
Hotel channel manager is a software that works with your hotel property management system and booking channels. Here is a more straightforward explanation – say your property has 20 rooms and is connected to 5 Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Suppose you receive a booking via OTA 1. So you have 19 rooms to sell. In a typical scenario, your staff will have to log in to the rest of the 4 OTAs to change the room availability to 19. Apart from this, if you make any change in your pricing, your team will also have to manually update the new rates across all 5 OTAs.
You may ask what’s wrong in manually changing availability and rates on the connected OTAs or distribution platforms. First of all, this is a time-consuming manual process that is error-prone. What if your staff forgets to update OTA 2 with the new availability? It will lead to double-booking. This means you sold the same room to two guests, and if the bookings happen to be on the same day, you will have to turn away one of them. Will it not result in guest dissatisfaction? This may also occur while updating rates on all the OTAs. One simple mistake will lead to financial loss.
This is where a channel manager software plays a significant role. The moment you receive a booking, it will instantly update all other OTAs with real-time room availability. When it comes to updating rates, you have to do it in the channel manager software, and it will take care of the rest by pushing the same onto all the connected distribution channels. Not only that, a booking got canceled, and one room got released? The solution will update the availability, and the same will reflect on all the channels.
How to find the right hotel channel manager software?
Analyze your requirements
Before you take the first step toward buying a channel manager, you need to know your requirements. You can do this by analyzing –
- Your hotel segment
- How many rooms/room types you have
- Target audience/geographies
- Best performing OTAs in your target region
- How many channels you want to work with
- How often you plan to adjust rates/restriction rules
- And, of course, your budget
Integration with your existing Hotel PMS
See if the channel manager you want to adopt can be integrated with your existing hotel property management system. This is the most crucial aspect you need to consider.
Because, without this integration, there will be no real-time two-way flow of information, including availability, rates, and restriction between your Hotel PMS and distribution channels.
And if this doesn’t happen, there is no point in investing in a channel manager software.
It should help you increase your distribution capabilities
Ask the channel manager vendor about how many channels it can support. If it can generate more bookings from your target market, then go for it. Are you planning to connect your property with a new OTA/distribution platform next?
The channel manager software should efficiently help you with this.
Furthermore, when we are talking about increasing distribution capabilities to sell more rooms, see if the channel manager can help you connect your hotel with the Global Distribution System(GDS), metasearch engines, wholesalers, your brand’s Facebook booking engine, and your hotel’s proprietary website booking engine. Remember, channel manager connectivity is not just about selling more on OTAs.
Understand the pricing model
Be sure to ask everything related to the pricing of the solution. The pricing model varies, and it may confuse you. Please keep these factors in mind –
- Do you have to pay a fixed setup cost, Hotel PMS/CRS integration cost?
- Does it charge you a monthly subscription fee?
- Do you have to pay more for a new channel that you want to connect with?
Will it help with an automatic pooled inventory?
An allocated inventory system is now not in fashion. Make sure the channel manager you pick up shows your entire inventory across the connected online channels, including OTAs, GDS, FB booking engine, your website booking engine, and metasearch engines at the same time. The moment the channel manager receives a booking from any of these channels, it must communicate/update the rest instantly with the reduced availability. Similarly, once a booking gets canceled, the channels should get updated with the new availability. Since these updates happen in real-time with live rates and availability, guests can only book rooms that are actually available. This way, you get to avoid overbookings and double-bookings. Ultimately, it leads to happy guests and increased business opportunities with optimum occupancy.
Can it help with insightful reports?
Find out if the hotel channel manager software is smart enough to help you with advanced analytics. It must assist you in understanding the best-performing channels and room types.
It should generate several customizable sales statistics and reports, including channel yield, reservation trend, and booking pattern on each channel. Armed with such data, you or your revenue manager can easily modify your rates according to the market condition and demand.
See what existing users are talking about it
Go to independent third-party hospitality software review sites, see what current users have to say about the channel manager software you are about to buy. Ask your fellow hoteliers, seek their guidance to find the right one.
Don’t forget to ask about support
It would be best if you asked these questions very CLEARLY.
- Do I get 24/7 support?
- Is the support free?
- Is the training free of cost, or do I need to pay extra for it?
- If the solution fails to work, resulting in overbooking and double bookings, will I be financially compensated for the loss incurred?
We recommend you sign up for a free demo. A short yet action-packed free demo will let you know about the functionalities of the hotel channel manager you are about to buy. This will also help you measure how prompt and proactive they are when it comes to supporting you.