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Channel Manager: What Is It and Why Do You Need One?

Channel Manager: What Is It and Why Do You Need One?

The success of vacation rental businesses is our main concern. That is why, due to the situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to think about software that may help you keep things under control by enabling you to streamline your tasks in the most effective way.

Did you know there is a way to simplify the management of your properties that will help you save valuable time and effort? It’s called a channel manager.

An increasing number of professionals with short-term rental properties are using channel manager software. In fact, in a recent survey on property management and technology adoption, Transparent found that 67% of respondents are already using a channel manager. When we break this down further and look at property managers with over 100 properties, this number surges to 90%.

If you’re reading and feeling lost or overwhelmed – don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about pms channel managers.

Now is the perfect time to start using a channel manager or switching to another one.

What is a channel manager?

A channel manager is a tool that allows you to simultaneously promote your vacation rental properties on external booking platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com or Expedia. It will automatically sync and update your rates, calendar availability and bookings across a number of platforms simultaneously.

Originally used by hotels (and we know vacation rental owners have a lot to learn from them!), channel managers ensure that the availability of rooms is always up-to-date on any external listing sites where guests can make a booking. That means if a guest makes a reservation on a website such as Booking.com, for example, the number of rooms available will automatically change on both Booking.com and the hotel website.

Having a channel manager for your vacation rental will allow you to distribute your property listing on various websites, and as a result, diversify your booking sources. It will also permit you to update and synchronize information automatically and immediately on all channels – leaving a very small margin for errors.

Channel managers usually integrate with your PMS (property management system) and they’re an essential addition to your vacation rental business if you want to avoid mistakes like overbooking or double bookings.

What is channel management?

In the vacation rental and short-term rental industry, channel management is the process of listing and promoting your property(ies) on external booking channels with a channel manager.

It also refers to the strategy of managing the channels on which you choose to list, how you analyze the top-performing websites, and how to optimize your business to make more revenue.

How does a channel manager work?

A channel manager connects your booking engine or PMS directly with online distribution channels.

When a guest makes a reservation on your website or any of your connected channels, the channel manager will automatically update your property’s availability on the other sites and block the dates.

This deep connectivity means that your listings will always be accurate and consistent, no matter how many sites you advertise on. It also means that you only need one central calendar to manage your reservations, therefore removing the need to log in on each portal separately to manually add the new booking.

Does your vacation rental need a channel manager?

To find out if your business could benefit from having a channel manager in place, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you the owner of at least one vacation rental?
  • Do you advertise this vacation rental on more than one website, or are you considering doing so?
  • Are you looking to streamline how you manage your different channels?
  • Do you want to be more efficient with how you spend time on your business?
  • Have you ever had to cancel a guest due to overbooking?

If your answers are positive, a channel manager would be a welcome addition to your vacation rental business.

How a channel manager can be used to improve your vacation rental business

In order to really enjoy the privileges of a channel manager, you must have more than one promotional channel in place. In other words, you must be advertising your property on at least two sites. For example, this could be your own website and a listing site such as Airbnb, HomeAway and so on.

The more channels you use to promote your property, the more potential guests will see it – leading you to higher chances of confirming reservations. But when bookings are coming in from multiple places, things can get confusing. What vacation rental owners need to achieve is simultaneous management of all channels across the board, paying the same level of attention to each one.

Ask yourself the following questions to decide whether your vacation rental business needs a channel manager software:

  • Do you want to spend less time on multiple extranets and websites?
  • Are you tired of spending too much time on inventory data?
  • Are you afraid of tweaking your rates and availability?
  • Do you want to promote your brand globally?
  • Would you like to boost your occupancy rate?
  • Are you ready to streamline your operations with efficient channel management technology?

If you’re still not convinced, here are the main benefits of a channel manager and why we recommend to switch/get one now:

1. More time to focus on analyzing your business

The tourism market temporarily slowing down also means you have more time to focus on analyzing your business and making strategic business decisions. Having more time to evaluate crucial elements such as the right provider or the best OTAs to connect with, will help you make better decisions for your business, which will have positive, long-term benefits. Take advantage of it!

2. Easy and smooth transition

Receiving fewer bookings can also be seen as a temporary advantage! With a less saturated availability calendar, the switch to a new channel manager provider will be a lot smoother, minimizing the risk of potential database sync errors.

3. More guidance

All of the travel industry players are facing a tough time during this outbreak. At Lodgify, we want to help vacation rental owners and managers and have decided to increase our onboarding and assistance sessions during this critical moment. Our account managers will be with you every step of the way and will make sure you’re fully connected and prepared for when everything gets back to normal.

Invest in your business now and get your account ready to be even more efficient when the travel market gets back on track.

All-in-one vacation rental software

There are many services that vacation rental owners like you can take advantage of to help streamline your business and processes. Instead of contracting these different tools separately, it’s worth checking out options that allow you to do everything from the same place.

With Lodgify, owners and managers can not only build their vacation rental website and accept online bookings with credit card payments, but they can also manage all reservations from one place with the integrated channel manager. The Lodgify channel manager provides two-way API connections to the top listing sites to ensure availability, rates and reservations are correct across all your channels.

“We love that the availability of our rental automatically updates everywhere when a guest makes their booking. It saves us a lot of time and hassle over the course of the year.” – Villa CP


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