Certainly, the internet has altered the rules of the hospitality industry over the years, particularly with regards to bookings, availability and current rates. As a hotelier, it is now imperative to partner with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Booking.com and Expedia, in efforts to increase your reach and maximise revenue. With that however, comes the need for constantly updating your rates and inventory across all your distribution channels and OTAs. Indeed, the more the channels you are present on, the bulkier the task of managing them becomes, and the possibilities of overbooking or double booking through different platforms. Here is where the efficiency of a channel manager comes in.
What is Channel Management?
Simply put, Channel Management is the use of a Channel Manager technological tool to list and manage all of your inventory on multiple booking channels across the world.
And what is a Hotel Channel Manager?
It is a technological application designed to gather all of your booking agents in a single place.
Take for instance someone has made a reservation on Expedia. A channel manager will block out the room on Booking.com, other OTAs, and your website. Therefore you are not required to connect to Booking.com or any other OTA to update your calendar.
At the core, a channel manager system functions by automating three major processes; setting rates, booking reservations, and managing availability. This provides a user-friendly and streamlined means of keeping potential guests updated, in turn helping them to make better and more informed decisions at all times.
When compared to conventional in-house methods of monitoring all sales channels, a hotel channel manager is undeniably more productive.
What makes Channel Managers so efficient?
If you want to gain a competitive advantage in the hospitality industry, you must leverage a channel manager. As a hotelier, this technological tool will excel by providing you with the following advantages.
1) Afford you more working hours
The key takeaway is that a channel manager will allow you to automate the tedious and repetitive task of constantly updating distribution channels, in turn shifting your attention to other important competencies such as guest engagement. In fact, Hotel Tech Report found that using a good channel manager can save you up to 20 hours per week depending on the property size.
2) Increase your reach and online bookings
A channel manager can also aid in increasing your reach and subsequently online bookings, primarily because stakeholders can easily connect with multiple OTAs. Nowadays, a strong virtual presence in the hospitality industry is extremely important, and therefore increasing exposure with such a tool will ultimately improve brand visibility.
3) Keep the inventory up to date
As indicated earlier, a channel manager’s main intention is to provide updates in real-time on multiple OTAs. As such, potential guests are always informed about relevant changes as they occur. They are provided with both insight and clarity to make better informed decisions.
So what should you look for when choosing a Channel Manager?
Over the years, channel management technology has made giant leaps – transition from merely one-way integrations that only supported rate uploads, to two-way integration that enables you to manage inventory, lock out rooms automatically when they are full, and much more.
Picking a good channel manager therefore, is not a one-size-fits all situation. But, don’t be overwhelmed! Here are key features we recommend when looking for a good channel manager.
1) Real-time availability
One crucial intention of a good channel manager should be to minimize or eliminate entirely, the risks of overbooking. Therefore, choose a system that always displays your hotel’s real time availability. A system that will update your inventory automatically in the event a booking is placed on any booking channel or your website.
2) Two-way integration
A two-way integration of your channel manager and multiple booking channels is crucial as it ensures data is accurate, up-to-date, and is automatically displayed across all channels. As such, examine whether the channel manager can automatically upload your real-time availability from your Project Management System (PMS) and also receive reservations from all your distribution channels.
3) Multiple connectivity partners
Look for a channel provider that delivers multiple connectivity partners including leading OTAs globally. Furthermore, the more the channels you are connected to, the greater the brand visibility, and a sea of markets to tap into. Amenitiz channel manager for example, is connected to well over 120 different distribution channels and OTAs.
4) System integration
Ideally, it is wise to pick a channel manager that integrates smoothly with your existing PMS or Central Reservation System (CMS). Failure will prove to be time consuming and costly, given that you may have to adopt separate software pieces.
Amenitiz Channel Manager has been at the forefront of hotel channel management for years now. In addition to the features of a good channel manager mentioned here, Amenitiz goes far and beyond as it offers a free online demo of the booking engine and channel manager that you can request on the site.