How To Choose Your Channel Manager Wisely?
The battle with the Covid-19 pandemic is an on-going one, but now that the second wave of the deadly coronavirus has receded, many in the hospitality and tourism industry are rearing to open doors, quite literally, to travelers who are eager to make their summer getaway. Lockdowns and night curfews have been lifted from places in different parts of the world, which makes the influx of tourists an expected trend. Hotel owners, therefore, are preparing to offer their guests meaningful experiences. But how does one manage the reservations coming from all over the world? Well, the answer is a straightforward and practical one – subscribe to hotel Channel Manager System.
A Channel Manager is a tool that helps in effectively distributing a hotel’s inventory, across multiple channels, such as OTAs, GDSs, metasearch engines, etc., and maintains 2-way support with them, bringing in instant bookings, as well as
auto-adjusting rates, reservations, and inventory across channels. But does all hotel Channel Manager system bring in the same level of functionality and efficiency? Let’s understand this better so that you know what to look for when you set out to buy a hotel Channel Manager system for your hotel business.
A hotel Channel Manager system is a cloud-based technology, which means it does not need heavy expenditure on data storage devices and their setup. It is available at a wide price range, starting from 30$ and goes over 350$, and varies in complexity depending upon the features offered. Some even come with the possibility of personalization. The point to consider then is the price you are willing to pay for certain software, taking into view the needs of your hotel business.
2. Pricing Model:
Channel Manager software is presented in a variety of price models. While some are available on a monthly subscription basis, others need you to pay the bulk of the subscription fee in advance. There are several other factors that are worth questioning when choosing the right tool for your business.
● Is the fee charged monthly or based on commissions, depending on the number of reservations received?
● Is a set-up fee applicable?
● Are there extra charges for every channel added or the same price, irrespective of the channels?
● Are you free to opt out of the subscription program whenever you like?
3. PMS Compatibility:
Most hotels these days are using a Property Management System to streamline their activities. It is therefore imperative to adopt a hotel Channel Manager system which is compatible with the PMS that is currently in use at your
hotel. A two-way connection, which implies a continuous exchange of data with the PMS, is always recommended because when a Channel Manager receives a reservation, the same is reflected on the PMS in real-time, and so are rates and restrictions. This gives front desk operators a correct understanding of the booking status of a hotel. However, it is important to note that the data transferability of Channel Manager software varies inefficiency. Some do this task better than others and allow hotels to reduce overbookings and cases of disparity in rates.
Online distribution of your hotel’s inventory helps improve your chances of being seen by your target audience, from around the world. To distribute your inventory in the most effective way, it is crucial to choose the right kinds of channels. Channels of distribution include Online Travel Agent (OTA)portals, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), and metasearch engines. Once you know which channels would be most appropriate for your business needs, you must ensure that the hotel Channel Manager system you’re opting for is capable of connecting with the channels of your choice.
5. Pooled Inventory & Rate Parity:
When your entire inventory is available for booking across channels, including your hotel’s website, at the same time, such functionality is referred to as ‘pooled inventory’. As soon as a reservation is made on any channel, hotel Channel Manager system automatically updates the inventory status across other channels and eliminates the chances of overbookings. Similarly, when a price change is made from a central point, it is carried out on all connected channels, by the Channel Manager software. This is especially useful in maintaining rate parity that is sought by OTAs who want
to know that a hotel, in the urge to get direct bookings, isn’t offering a lower price on its website.
6. Internet Booking Engine:
A web booking engine helps travelers looking for accommodation to make a reservation at a hotel, through the hotel’s website itself, thereby cutting down on the commissions that hotels end up paying other online channels. A Channel Manager software, therefore, increases the number of direct bookings that a hotel receives by simply incorporating a booking engine onto its website. This is done by embedding an HTML code into one of the website pages and in a jiffy, the booking button appears.
● So before selecting a hotel channel manager system, it is also important to check whether the Channel Manager provides a booking engine for your hotel’s website.
● Is the look and feel of this engine customizable?
● Does it allow enough scope to present a quick look at the best features of your hotel?
● Does the engine adapt well to the devices it is run on – laptops, mobile phones, etc?
7. Revenue Management:
Revenue Management is a complex functionality that is difficult to carry out without a tool like Channel Manager, which has the power to manage the revenue of a hotel by factoring in several elements which influence the economics of things. Hotels often employ the ‘dynamic pricing’ strategy wherein room prices are continuously tweaked to suit the change in consumer demand, prices set by competitors, the impact of seasons, current occupancy, etc. If one were to manage this manually, it would be a tedious task and would carry chances of errors. A Channel Manager software does this by using algorithms that take into account the fluctuations in the above-mentioned elements. Select a Channel
Manager that is built to handle such functions, as well as the following:
● Easy, hassle-free rate updation in the system
● Possibility of analyzing reports from the past and present
● Rate checker, reputation manager, etc.
A Channel Manager deals with vast amounts of data that can give you great insights through analytics and reporting. Information such as – booking volume, revenue generated during a specific period of time, revenue generated per channel, etc can be easily derived through a hotel Channel Manager system.
9. Payment Methods:
Online bookings need online payments. Therefore, the more options there are for people to make payments, the more likely they are to go ahead with them. A Channel Manager software must therefore be able to connect with a
range of payment systems/gateways etc and must also be adept at managing the data hence secured in a safe way.
10. Ease of Use:
Like any other tool, a hotel Channel Manager system is redundant if it isn’t easy to use. One must check, therefore, that the tool has an uncomplicated interface, is available in the languages of your choice/requirement, and the level of training it would need for your staff to acquire the skills to use it.
11. Customer Support
It might take a while before you gain expertise over a tool. Hence, it is always helpful when the company offering your Channel Manager software is also reputable with regard to offering assistance to their users. Some might
charge a nominal fee for the support they provide but be sure to have clarity about the same.
A hotel’s distribution strategy must be able to manage and diversify the distribution of inventory as increased visibility drives occupancy and results in revenue growth. To implement such a strategy well, channel manager software has a major role to play. By evaluating your options with the points mentioned above you are sure to find a tool that fits your business’ needs.