Choosing Channel Manager Software: A Complete Guide for Hotelier
As a hotelier, if you want to attract more guests from across geographies and sell more rooms to increase profitability, you must do one thing efficiently: INVENTORY MANAGEMENT & HOTEL DISTRIBUTION. And you can only see success in this when you invest in a hotel channel manager software.
In this piece of blog, we will walk you through a guide to help you understand what precisely a channel manager software is, what it does, and most importantly, how to select the right one that suits your hotel’s distribution requirement.
What is channel manager software?
Say, for example, you are selling/distributing your hotel rooms via multiple Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), Global Distribution Systems (GDS), your Website Booking Engine (WBE), and your brand’s social media pages. All these mediums are known as sales/distribution channels. Now you can’t manage all these channels manually. This is where you need a hotel channel manager software to gain centralized control over your room distribution and rate management across all these sales channels.
How does this work?
It acts as an intermediary between your Hotel Property Management System (Hotel PMS) and all the distribution channels mentioned above. Thanks to seamless two-way integration, it just takes one click from your Hotel PMS to instantly update your hotel’s room availability, rates, packages, and restrictions across all the channels. Reservations, cancellations, and modifications done on any of those channels are also reflecting on your Hotel PMS in real-time. This flow of information via the channel manager software eliminates inconsistency and confusion around availability and rates on all the connected channels.
Need one example?
You got 100 rooms at your hotel, and you have listed them on ten distribution channels. When five rooms get sold on OTA 1, the reduced inventory of 95 rooms should reflect on all other online channels. And this should happen in real-time. If you think you can do this manually by logging into each channel’s extranet, you would be committing mistakes that could cost you dearly. How? Because the slightest delay in updating the revised availability would show your availability at 100 rooms, and it is like selling rooms that are not available. This leads to unpleasant situations arising out of overbooking and double booking.
Similarly, when a walk-in booking happens, your staff creates a room reservation in the Hotel PMS. At the same time, all other online channels should be updated with the availability of 99 rooms. Moreover, it eliminates inaccuracy about different rates on several sales channels. Remember this – every time you change your availability, pricing, or restriction, your channel manager software updates all your connected channels instantly.
What are the benefits?
Here they are –
- Reach out to more potential guests with increased market reach
- Efficiently optimize your distribution strategy
- Ensure all your available rooms are up for booking
- Maintain rate parity
- Get more bookings, increase your occupancy
- Save time and make no error as the solution updates your rates and availabilities in real-time
- Avoid overbookings and double bookings
- Create a more robust online image for your hotel brand
How to select the right channel manager software?
Let’s look at some of the vital aspects you need to consider while choosing a hotel channel manager.
To start with, know your requirements
Every investment in any hospitality technology solution should be backed by in-depth requirement analysis. You need to look at the below-mentioned points –
- Size, offering, and location of your property
- Number of rooms you have
- Room types/segments
- Target audience, geographies
- Your distribution mix
- Number of OTAs and other online channels you plan to work with
Also, please find out your level of dependency on online channels to sell more rooms. You can do this by just looking at your current direct booking pattern.
Hotel PMS integration
We have already discussed this essential aspect under “How does this work”. This integration is vital for the success of your distribution effort as it ensures that live updates for your rates and room availability are happening across all the connected channels – OTAs, GDS, Web Booking Engine, and Social Media Booking Engine, etc.
Check with the channel manager vendor about its connectivity capabilities. Ask these questions
- Does it help you connect with the most popular OTA in your target region?
- How many channels does it support?
- How powerful is the system to handle bookings/reservations?
- How soon can it help you connect and go live on a new channel?
- How smoothly it works with OTAs, GSD, WBEs, Metasearch Engines, and other sales channels?
- Does it send you real-time alerts on OTA health – down or up?
It would help if you were very clear on this. Find out if the pricing is based on a per-channel fee or a one-time, flat commission fee. Will you have to pay extra for training? Does it involve any annual subscription fee? Once you have clarity on this front, you can easily take the next step toward selecting an intelligent hotel channel manager software.
Find out if the solution can help you with a centralized location to store and access operationally critical data, including reservation, pricing, etc. It allows you to have up-to-the-minute information about your online distribution effort. Also, see if the solution’s interface is user-friendly.
Channel performance report
It must help you analyze the performance of connected channels. You should be able to measure your channel yield, the best performing channel, and earning per reservation coming via OTAs. This empowers you with data-driven strategic decision-making capabilities.
Ask the channel manager provider about how prompt their support is? Don’t simply go by their words. Check with other users to know their experience. Don’t forget to browse software review sites to learn more. Ask for a free demo. This should be enough for you to know their capabilities.
Data safety and security
Is the solution compliant with local data safety and security norms? Is it PCI DSS Certified to help you protect cardholder (guest) data? This is a must-have feature. Pay utmost attention to it.
Efficient and error-free distribution can help you sell more rooms and increase occupancy level. And, as discussed this, can only happen if you adopt a cloud-based intuitive channel manager software that works in sync with your cloud Hotel PMS.