Channel Manager, what is it and how to choose the best one?
What is a channel manager?
A channel manager is a tool that will allow you to sell all your rooms in all OTAs (online travel agencies) and even in your own direct booking engine, at the same time. It will update room availability in real time in all OTAs when a reservation is received, when a reservation is made by phone, or when you want to make massive changes to the available inventory.
With the exponential increase in recent years of travelers who prefer to book their stays online, and the increase in Online Travel Agencies such as Booking.com, Agoda, Airbnb, etc. Channel managers were developed to make life easier for hoteliers to adapt to the new times, allowing to increase the number of rooms sold and the turnover.
Expanding your accommodation offer to more OTAs is a good strategy to increase income, but it is highly recommended to know that OTAs are the ones that bring you the most profitability, for example: some may generate many cancellations, or short and unprofitable stays, … The Channel Manager will collect interesting statistics for you to make better decisions about OTAs.
Because you need it?
What are the advantages of the Channel manager?
Four interesting benefits of the Channel manager are:
① Rate parity: allows your hotel to maintain parity in each booking channel, you only need to modify the price of the rooms so that it is replicated to the other channels. This price update improves your hotel's ranking on booking sites, increasing sales.
② ProductivityA channel manager manages the availability of rooms in your hotel in a centralized way, it will increase productivity and you will be able to dedicate more time to other important tasks of your accommodation.
③ More income: the rate parity offering all the inventory available in each OTA in real time, in addition to being able to add it to more sales channels easily, are positive factors that will increase your hotel reservations.
④ Avoid overbooking: OTAs connections are bi-directional: when a reservation arrives through one channel, the room is automatically subtracted from your inventory and is also subtracted in the other channels.
Criteria for choosing the best channel manager.
If you are looking for a channel, the key criteria to take into account to choose the best one for your accommodation are:
- Functionality. A small hotel needs a basic but reliable tool, while a multinational hosting company will need much more advanced features: such as Google Analytics compatibility, competition analysis, online reputation analysis etc.
- System integration. Depending on the needs of your accommodation, you should check that it is compatible with a PMS (Administration System, RMS (Hotel Management System) and CRS (Central Reservation System).
- Statistics. To get clear data on the performance of the connected channels during a period and to be able to compare it with periods of other years, etc.
- Payment. Compatibility with the main credit or debit card payment gateways.
- Medium. Assess the quality of the technical support service and if they are available 24 hours a day and on weekends.
- Languages. To take into account if it is in Spanish or other languages that your staff master.
- Price. There are usually several options depending on the needs and size of the accommodation, the permanence contract, monthly or annual payments. Small lodgings usually offer flat monthly rates.
Channel Manager Connections.
Types of connections.
There are 3 types of Channel Managers connections: iCal, XML and by the channel manager API, for the implementation by API custom programming is usually needed and it is oriented to hotel multinationals or large hotels, so I will focus on the connections that most small and medium-sized accommodation are of interest, that is, connections via iCal and XML.
Comparison between iCal and XML connections.
- It is free, ideal for small and medium hotels.
- It allows you to make offers in direct reservations (prices different from OTAs).
- Simple integration.
- The main OTAs in the world are supported and every day there are more.
- Synchronization with Google Calendar.
Disadvantages of iCal:
- The synchronization is not in real time (every hour or more hours depending on the OTA or the configuration of the booking engine), although the synchronization is slower, it also significantly reduces the risk of overbooking, depending on the size of the accommodation and your needs. be enough.
- One-way synchronization.
- It only allows you to synchronize availability, it does not synchronize: prices, rooms, room descriptions, etc.
Advantages of XML:
- XML connections are usually with monthly fees and sometimes added commissions, and even cancellation.
- bidirectional sync
- It syncs in real time.
- Allows you to synchronize prices and more reservation data.
Disadvantages of XML:
- By synchronizing all prices, it does not allow you to make offers on direct bookings.
- Higher cost: channel managers with XML connections charge monthly fees and sometimes commissions.
The best channel manager.
In the world there is a wide variety of channel managers and many of them have similar functionalities, to select what I consider the best channel managers for small and medium hotels, I have evaluated the following 5 factors: cost, compatibility, interface, technical support and reviews of users.
English interface. Connection using iCal and XML. They adapt to any size of hotel. The prices are very cheap because they have it focused on "self-service" very complete online manuals to configure it. Free trial: Yes.
➫ Quota example for 10 rooms, 3 types of room (single, double and triple), 5 channels: € 27.90 / month.
In Spanish and 7 other languages, all-inclusive solution, PMS, Channel manager, tool to create web pages, communication, payments, etc. Integration of all messages in one place. Application to improve the guest experience and get more positive opinions. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example of fee for 10 rooms and all channels: € 64 / month (20% discount in annual payment).
Spanish and English: synchronization system that uses artificial intelligence, very reliable. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example of quota for 10 rooms and up to 10 channels: 19$ / month (21% discount on annual payment).
Only iEnglish: HotelFriend is a # cloud-based hotel management software. It covers the organization of work, the direct sale of rooms and services, simplifies the processes of service to guests and makes your stay at the hotel even more comfortable. Provides the ability to manage online sales from any device anywhere in the world, analyze guest behavior, and increase revenue. Free trial: Yes.
Spanish and more languages: centralized solution to help manage your property in a simple and effective way, includes PMS, booking engine, channel manager with more than 300 channels, income and payment management tool, it is in more than 148 countries. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example of fee for 10 rooms: from € 100 / month.
Spanish and more languages: used by more than 35,000 hoteliers. +2 million annual bookings, more than 700 channels. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example fee for 10 rooms: € 59 / month.
The internal software of the web acts as if it were a channel manager, synchronizing the availability asynchronously, for a small / medium accommodation that does not receive hundreds of visits per hour, it is more than enough.