Channel Manager: express guide.
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. You will update room availability in real time on all OTAs when you receive a reservation, when you make a reservation over the phone, or when you want to make massive changes to 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 new times, allowing to increase the number of stays sold and 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 to help you make better decisions about OTAs.
Because you need it?
What advantages does the Channel manager have?
Four interesting benefits of the Channel manager are:
① Rate parity: it allows your hotel to maintain parity in each reservation channel, it is only enough to modify the price of the rooms so that it is replicated to the other channels. This price update improves the positioning of your hotel on reservation sites, increasing sales.
② Productivity: A channel manager manages the availability of rooms in your hotel in a centralized way, will increase productivity and you will be able to spend more time on 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 easily add it to more sales channels, are positive factors that will increase your hotel reservations.
④ Avoid overbooking: OTA connections are bidirectional: when a reservation arrives through one channel, the room is automatically subtracted from its inventory and it 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 consider when choosing 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 functions: such as compatibility with Google Analytics, competition analysis, online reputation analysis, etc.
- System integration. Depending on the needs of your accommodation, you must verify that it is compatible with some PMS (Administration System, RMS (Hotel Management System) and CRS (Central Reservation System).
- Statistics. To get clear data on the performance of connected channels during one 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.
- Support. Assess the quality of technical support care and whether they are available 24 hours a day and on weekends.
- Languages. To take into account if it is in Spanish or other languages that dominate your staff.
- Price. There are usually several options depending on the needs and size of the accommodation, the permanency contract, monthly or annual payments. Small accommodations often offer flat monthly rates.
Channel Manager Connections.
Types of connections.
There are 3 types of Channel Manager connections: iCal, XML and by the API of the channel manager, for the implementation by API custom programming is usually needed and it is aimed at multinational hotels or large hotels, so I will focus on the connections that most Small and medium-sized accommodation is of interest, that is, connections using iCal and XML.
Comparison between iCal and XML connections.
- It is free, ideal for small and medium hotels.
- Allows you to make offers on direct reservations (prices different from OTAs).
- Simple integration.
- The main OTAs in the world are compatible and every day there are more.
- Synchronization with Google Calendar.
Disadvantages of iCal:
- 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 sync.
- It only allows synchronizing availability, it does not synchronize: prices, stays, room descriptions, etc.
Advantages of XML:
- XML connections are usually with monthly fees and sometimes added commissions, and even for cancellation.
- two-way sync
- Synchronizes in real time.
- It 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 reservations.
- Higher cost: Channel managers with XML connections charge monthly fees and sometimes commissions.
The best channel managers.
In the world there is a wide variety of channel managers and many of them have similar functionalities, to select the ones that 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.
Beds24 (English interface): connection using iCal and XML. They adapt to any size of hotel. The prices are very cheap because they have focused on "self-service" very complete online manuals to configure it. Free trial: Yes.
➫ Sample fee for 10 rooms, 3 room types (single, double and triple), 5 channels: € 27.90 / month.
Smoobu (Spanish and 7 more 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 fee for 10 rooms and all channels: € 64 / month (20% discount on annual payment).
Syncbnb (Spanish and English): synchronization system that uses artificial intelligence, very reliable. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example fee for 10 rooms and up to 10 channels: 19$ / month (21% discount on annual payment).
Hotelfriend (English). HotelFriend is a # cloud-based hotel management software. It covers the organization of work, the direct sale of rooms and services, simplifies the service processes for guests and makes your stay at the hotel even more comfortable. It provides the ability to manage online sales from any device anywhere in the world, analyze guest behavior, and increase revenue. Free trial: Yes.
➫Example fee for 10 rooms and 3 channels: € 111 / month.
Cloudbeds (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, is in more than 148 countries . Free trial: Yes.
➫Example fee for 10 rooms: from € 100 / month.
Siteminder (Spanish and more languages): used by more than 35,000 hoteliers. +2 million annual reservations, more than 700 channels. Free trial: Yes.
➫ Sample fee for 10 rooms: € 59 / month.