What is a Hotel Channel Manager?

How to choose the best channel manager for your property?

hotel channel manager is a software tool that allows accommodation providers to manage multiple online travel agents (OTAs), GDS and metasearch sites from a single platform. A channel manager assists hotels to expand their online visibility and reach by helping manage multiple channels in an automated way. A channel manager has become a necessity, not only for big hotel chains and groups that have a multi-property set up, but also for mid and small hotel chains, casino properties, independent hotels, vacation rentals and BnBs.

Accommodation providers can list rooms from single or multiple properties on all connected booking sites, travel channels and distribution touchpoints so that guests can find and book them easily, thus driving more bookings and revenue. A channel manager provides a central control dashboard for seamless management of online distribution, rate and yield management, not only for individual and boutique hotels but for multi-property channel management as well.

good channel manager software helps hotels update rate and inventory on multiple OTAs, and also receive reservations directly into the hotel PMS through 2-way XML connectivity. Advanced channel managers provide options for rate and inventory updates as well as reservation delivery to not only OTAs, GDS and metasearch sites, but also to the hotel brand website (booking engine) as well as offline wholesalers and tour operators.

Why is channel management so important for hotels today?

Back in the days, hotel channel management used to be a manual task which would take up most of the precious time of the hotel revenue manager or reservations teams. However, with travel demand moving online and new technology coming in, hotels have realized the need for automation and today multiple software providers offer channel management solutions to hotels at competitive prices.

However, even today more than 50% hotels are manually uploading rates and inventory online and are losing out on expanding their market and generating more revenue.

With a channel manager, hotels can access 100s of channels and manage as many as they like at the same time. Properties can update multiple room types and rate plans easily from one channel manager dashboard and update rate and availability on all online channels from OTAs (like, Expedia, Agoda, Airbnb, HRS, Hotelbeds), GDS channels (like Amadeus, Travelport, HotelRez), Metasearch sites (like Google Hotel Ads, Skyscanner, Trivago, TripAdvisor, HotelsCombined), Booking Engines (like BookOnlineNow, ROIBACK), Wholesalers & Tour Operators (like GTA, Hotelbeds, DOTW, Welcomebeds).

With a 2-way connection, every booking made through these channels will get delivered into the hotel PMS automatically and with the pooled inventory model the availability gets reduced as per real-time inventory status. This makes hotel yield management very easy and seamless as it reduces the risk of overbookings, while maximizing occupancy and revenue.

How can you choose the best channel manager for your property? 

Choosing the best channel manager software for your hotel can be an overwhelming task, given the multiple providers and the various features and functionalities each one offers at various price points. While there are multiple factors to consider while looking for a channel manager, it is important to keep the basics in mind – a good hotel channel manager will connect your property to all your required OTAs, reduce manual tasks and unnecessary admin work by keeping your room rates and availability updated in real-time, help you maintain rate parity while boosting direct bookings. Do not forget to look for personalized training and excellent follow-on support, which will give you the confidence to explore the channel manager application to further optimize and implement your revenue and distribution management strategies effectively.

A good channel manager software will provide you with an exhaustive channel and technology partner list for you to choose from and expand your online visibility.

Here are some questions to ask your connectivity partner to make sure you maintain optimal control over the channel mix as well as maximize profitability:

  • Does the channel manager connect to your hotel PMS, Booking Engine, OTAs and other channels that you currently work with?
  • Does the channel manager software support real-time 2-way rate, inventory and reservation updates?
  • Is the channel manager dashboard user-friendly and easy to use?
  • Does the channel manager offer a central platform to manage online distribution for multiple properties of a hotel chain or group?
  • Does the channel manager software support pooled-inventory model?
  • What is the expected timeline for implementing the channel manager for a property?
  • Does the channel manager provide comprehensive reporting on various aspects of your online business including channel performance and productivity reports?
  • How many channels does the channel manager offer connectivity with?
  • Does the channel manager connect to the key local and regional channels in your inbound markets and key target geographies?
  • Will the channel manager integrate to any new channel / OTA that you request?
  • Can the channel manager do an automatic stop sell for channels when availability goes beyond a defined threshold?
  • Does the channel manager have stable connectivity to make real-time 2-way updates, multiple times a day?
  • Does it accommodate restrictions, like Minimum length of stay (MLOS), Blackout dates, Closed for Arrival (CTA) and Closed for Departure (CTD) to optimize its revenue?
  • Does the channel manager offer rate weight set-up options including mark-up, margin and tax settings?
  • Does the hotel channel manager software provide new feature updates regularly to customer?
  • Does the channel manager offer features like Promotion Manager, Room-Rate Update feature, Resync feature etc?
  • Does the channel manager offer the option to allocate different inventories to different online channels or the option to switch off a channel for a certain period of time if required?
  • Does the channel manager provide guidance on market trends, which channels to focus on and other revenue management related consultancy?
  • How far in advance can you manage availability and rates through the channel manager?
  • Is the channel manager ISO and PCI DSS certified?
  • Is the channel manager GDPR compliant?
  • Does the channel manager provide on-demand product training whenever needed?
  • Does the channel manager offer 24/7 customer support?

Take complete control of your revenue and channel management strategy to manage distribution costs and drive more direct and online bookings.