What is a Channel Manager?
This is a technology solution that allows you connect & manage online distribution channels automatically from one point of access. It is a cloud based solution hence no software is required to be installed in your computer.
A channel manager centralizes the management of your rates and room inventory on one platform to all your online distribution channels. This means you can easily update rates across multiple channels from one point, open and close rooms for sale across multiple channels from one source as well.
A good channel manager will also offer a Booking Engine, this is a call to action button that is placed on your website and allows guests to book your hotel easily from your very own website.
Channel Management is the process and strategies used to manage the connected channels via your channel manager. This can be as simple as having different rate strategies between your online channels via your channel manager.
Why do I need a channel manager?
Helps eliminate manual errors when managing your online rates & inventory
Track performance, get performance statistics that will enable you make data driven decisions
Eliminate logistical issues like overbookings and rate parity
Enable guests check availability and rates directly from your website with an integrated booking engine
Update rates and inventory in one click from one platform
Removes the need to log in to each extranet of every online travel agent one by one.
Maximize sales & revenues – helps distribute automatically your inventory and rates to multiple channels increasing chances of conversion and revenues
Improve your brand recognition by providing unrestricted access to multiple booking channels around the globe.
Multi user capability – each of your approved team members will have individual access and this means they will be all in the same page.
Saves time, energy and costs – reduces the time spent accessing multiple systems for updates and reporting.
What to look for in a channel manager
Real time updates for both rates and inventory across all channels connected to it
Ability to connect to multiple channels globally
XML integration connectivity – either 1 way or 2 way (this depends on the hotels Property Management System capabilities)
Solid reporting and analytics tools – to help make correct data driven decisions and analyze channel performance
API connectivity – easily connects and works with other hotel solutions
Multiple user access – can be set up for use with multiple users with flexible access restrictions if required
Free Trial period
User friendly interface
Assistance and Product training – more importantly in a language you understand
Onboarding process and how long it takes
Price of the product
A quick look at Online Distribution Channels
A channel manager simplifies how you distribute and sell online via the online distribution platforms available. Below is a look at who they are;
Your Own Website – this is your first and most important channel. Make sure you have a well-designed, responsive website linked to a Booking Engine that allows guests to directly reserve from your website.
Online Travel Agents (OTA’s) – popular and well know agents are Booking.com & Expedia, OTA’s operate on commission basis ranging between 15% - 25% depending on the channel and program you enroll.
Wholesalers – Example is Hotelbeds, their enter contracts with hotels to acquire rates and availability which they in turn sell to other business like travel agencies. They work on a Business to Business (B2B) model different from the commission model for OTA’s.
Global Distribution System (GDS) – We have 4 main ones Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre & Worldspan. Popular with Corporate travel market as its able to present hotels, flights and car rentals in one simple interface.
Metasites – Examples are Tripadvisor, Google Hotel Ads, Kayak & Trivago. Metasites aggregate rates from different channels and display them in one platform for the guests for comparison. Guests use this sites to find rooms prices and purchase rooms.
Social media sites – Examples are Facebook & Instagram. Social media sites have grown to become more than just information sharing platforms to now distribution sources, hotels should now take advantage of this platforms by ensuring that they place links to their direct Booking Engines on every post to encourage direct conversions.
What to consider when choosing a channel manager
Size of your hotel – How many rooms your hotel has, for a big hotel you need a powerful channel manager
Your current applications / systems – this are the systems you are currently using like property management system (PMS), Website, Payment solutions e.t.c
Number of channels you want to connect to – different markets and properties have different needs, big hotels require more channels to distribute to as compared to small hotels, this will determine your decision on type of channel to work with
Your Rates and Room Types – big hotels and dependent on type of hotel may have many room type configuration and complex rates as compared to small hotels hence will require complex systems to operate
Type of XML connectivity – we have 1 way – this means only rates and availability are pushed from your system to the channel manager automatically (real time) and 2 way which means rates and availability are pushed but also bookings and guest data is fed to the PMS automatically (real time). Also small hotels will not need any connectivity as it becomes costly and may prefer to manage online distribution directly from the channel manager with set configurations.
Reports and Analytics capability – good channel managers will have reports tracking data that passes through it and present to you in an informative manner and easy to understand, data is King and understanding it will lead to great decision making.
Finally your budget – depending on your needs and expectations you will need to carefully consider which channel manager to work with.
It’s keen to understand that one solution cannot fit all types of hotels. A 5 star property with 400 rooms requires a different type of channel manager as compared to a 30 room hotel or a simple 10 room cottage.
RevSol has ensured that we provide personalized solutions according to you and we have different products to ensure all your needs and budgets are met.
Reach out and let us take you through the technology space and help you select the right system for you.