Vacation Rental Guide / Choosing a Channel Manager / Is A Free Channel Manager For You?

A free channel manager will help keep your rooms full, increasing bookings and keeping your inventory updated. With a channel manager that interfaces with your software, you can update your rates and bookings across all external listings.

International airlines are increasing the number of flights to the US and internet reservations are easier than ever – with over fifty percent of travelers booking their trips on their smartphones or tablets.

If you list your rental on various portals, this keeps your property busy and increases profits. However, if you do list your property on several booking sites, you will need to have a service in place to manage them all. For this reason, many owners look for a free channel manager.

Free Channel Manager

Your hotel website has software that helps you to manage your business. Booking, fees, and inventory are all part of your hotel management software. While you may have an up-to-date site, you need a way of distributing this information to OTAs.

With some web hosts, you will get a free channel manager with your website. This system should keep at least one OTA current, keeping track of each reservation and only allowing booking if there is availability.

If one external listing is not enough, you may have to pay for additional channels. This, however, depends on the source of your free channel manager. You may receive several channels free of charge. Just make sure there are no compromises on service.

Some of the features to look for with a free channel manager are:

  • Online calendar
  • Reservation invoices
  • Payment processing
  • Updates to multiple OTAs
  • Management of multiple hotels if necessary
  • Compatibility with current software

Online Calendar

Even a free service should offer an online calendar. Whether you own a small bed and breakfast or several hotels, your calendar is crucial for keeping blocked off periods and cancellations updated across all channels.

A real-time calendar will also show updated prices, included seasonal changes and specials. A free version will allow you to changes prices on your units, manage rooms, or block rooms on the calendar, enabling guests to make reservations for large groups.

Part of the integrated listing manager is the ability to immediately import and export calendar availability. These can also be entered manually.

Reservation Invoicing and Payment Processing

A free channel manager will provide for reservation invoicing and payment processing. This keeps reservations fast, without redirecting your guests to another page. Your PMS will interface with your booking software, providing real-time updates.

Taxes and fees will be included in the program, as well. Your company will benefit from clarity in billing and immediate payment processing. This will include all of your payment options, including PayPal. It will provide secure checkout as well.


Your PMS distributes data to each of your OTAs. When guests make reservations on any of your connected sites, the updated information is distributed to your site and to any other OTAs to which you subscribe.

Management of Multiple properties

Multiple properties can be managed with free channel managers. You will find a quick check-in and a check-out function that will be immediately sent to housekeeping for maintenance. You can also split functions in order to separate bookings according to relevant dates or by the room.

Compatibility with Current Booking Software

Your current booking software provides the necessary functions for the daily running of your rental. Guests can book online or you can enter reservations manually. Cancellations are duly noted and the units put back on vacation rental sites again. Payment options are processed, including fees and taxes.

Your free channel manager will interface with this software. Every change recorded on your site will immediately be relayed – updating the prices and availability on each individual booking site.

In addition, your it will collect guest profiles and contribute to your guest database. It will also generate reports in relation to the booking software you use.

Actions taken by your free channel manager should be automatic and immediate. It should contain a group booking function and be capable of selling your hotel rooms in varying layouts. You should also be able to customize the guest registration form. All of these features combine to make a free channel manager a benefit to your rental, and help to increase your profitability.