Vacation Rental Guide / Selecting a Channel Manager

By selecting a channel manager, you can save clerical time and get the most from your online marketing efforts. Distribution is more efficient, and your hotel, vacation rental business or bed and breakfast booking information reaches a larger audience.

How Does a Channel Manager Work?

Most of the time, a channel manager will work through the cloud. This ensures that you can access any data on your account from any internet access point. Whether you use a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet for the management of your business, the cloud makes your account easy to access.

As you build your online presence, you will list with more online travel agents, or OTAs. While this is a great way to get your brand into circulation, you will need a way to synchronize all of these accounts.

Functions of a Channel Manager

Your hotel management software automatically updates availability and rates on your website. You enter seasonal prices, specials, or room configurations on your website, and guests see all of this when they complete their booking.

However, when you operate your business manually, every rate change, reservation and cancellation are keyed in, in order to update availability and rates to keep guests informed. That is, unless you have a channel manager system.

This tool does all the clerical work for you – automatically. Those calendars on each of the OTA websites? Instant changes. Managing is real-time and immediate. All of your calendars are immediately updated by your centralized channel manager. Updates on any one of your OTAs will be recorded on your website and your other listings.

Managing external listings is immediate and automatic, greatly reducing the margin of error. Calendars across all channels are synchronized and information concerning your vacation rentals is consistent all over the internet.

Private and Company Use

Even if you are a private individual looking for other ways to list your Airbnb property, you’ll find that an Airbnb channel manager will enable you to update your availability and room configuration on multiple markets. This increases the likelihood that your property will reach more guests and improve reservation numbers.

For example, if you have two suites available, you have them listed on your website. This is entered into your system and is distributed to each of the external channels to which you subscribe. Now, your website and each of the booking channels show that you have two suites available for a period of time on the calendar.

When someone books one of those suites through an OTA, the inventory is automatically reduced to an availability of one. This is done immediately and across the board, to both your website and to the other OTAs.

Regardless of the size of your vacation rental business, updates across all channels are almost always immediate.

Property Management

Multiple properties require more administrative tasks. That’s why a PMS channel manager is crucial for hotels, beds and breakfasts, and other vacation rentals with several locations and many rooms.

As travelers get ready to explore more and more unusual destinations, your channel management needs to be up to the challenge. Your calendar, reservations, cancellations, payment processing and invoicing, and even group reservations can all be handled by your channel manager.

A good PMS channel manager partners with your software to collect guest data and help build profiles. It will also help you sell your room selections in different layouts. As it integrates with your website, it will be secure and fast, offering reduced margins of error in availability and billing.

Compatibility and Accessibility

Even a free channel manager may offer the same quality of service, with the right vendor. But, whether you pay for a subscription or choose one of the free options, you’ll find them to be excellent partners in building and maintaining your vacation rental venture.

This is because the best channel managers are compatible with the most popular software options in the hotel industry. It will also be accessible on handheld mobile devices.

Any marketing plan includes specifics on how to get your message to a wider group of guests. With an accessible manager, potential guests can view your website on their smartphones and follow through with booking and payment right then. Marketing 101 says to meet your consumers where they are, and over 90% of those consumers use their smartphones while they shop. Your company will benefit from an accessible management system that partners with your website for flawless guest service.

Increase Exposure

Increase exposure for your vacation rental through the use of a channel manager. You will increase the number of reservations, and avoid double bookings. All of your online travel agents can be managed with one system. This creates the most natural, instinctive managing processes for your hotels, beds and breakfasts, and other rentals.

Wherever you are, you can update your information. Use your smartphone, iPad, laptop, or desktop to change rates or room configurations. All changes are sent to each channel simultaneously, virtually eliminating any margin of error.

And, if a room is booked by someone using one OTA, your website and the other OTAs are updated immediately. With this kind of system in place, you can contract with more OTAs and bring in guests from more different points of origin.

More Flexibility

With the right channel manager, you have more flexibility in the way you run your rental. If you make a change in one place, it is automatically sent to all of your calendars across the internet.

You should have a dashboard that you can customize for your own convenience. You can use a template for your emails, which increases the likelihood of them being opened. Your hotel will have a quick, online check-in and check-out capability.

You will also be able to add extras to bookings. A group booking, for example, may need extra cots or seating in your rooms. This can be taken care of with your group booking function, too.

A good channel manager offers payment processing that is secure and easily updated. Many hotel owners are now accepting PayPal as a form of payment. You can add this to your website, and it will be updated on all of your OTA websites, too.

Invoicing can be managed through your channel manager, which partners flawlessly with your website provider. Taxes and fees will be displayed appropriately for each OTA, with prices adjusted automatically according to rules that you put in place.

Your channel manager will be the best administrative assistant you could hire. Try it out, today.