Channel Manager – Best Tool to Manage Your Online Distribution Channels
Online hotel bookings really started to develop in the early 2000s. It became very popular with hoteliers as it provided them with an additional source of bookings in addition to traditional sources and improved occupancy. The more OTA channels that a hotelier cooperates with, the more they need an effective distribution management solution. Thus, Channel Manager was an innovative invention to reshape the way that hoteliers manage their inventory and distribution.
Why Properties Need a Channel Manager Tool
Before the existence of Channel Manager, the method to manage their online distribution channels was very manual and time-consuming. This traditional process is still used by some smaller properties such as 1 or 2-star hotels where staff have to individually access each OTA they work with, to update rates and room availability. This duplicates the task many times and increases the margin of error and is the main reason for over-booking or under-booking.
These problems create a huge need for a solution to automate updates and centrally monitor all bookings. Channel Manager is the ideal solution to solve these problems.
Understanding How The Tool Works
The Channel Manager provides a dashboard allowing a property’s reservation department to do updates and control all bookings info. The main function of this tool is connecting rates, availability and more details to all the connected key online channels (OTAs), such as Agoda, Expedia, and Booking.com. The data updates are automatically shared and synchronized among all channels.
Literally, there are two ways that channel management shares data between the property and the OTAs:
Through direct XML feed between your Channel management and the OTAs. This is the most accurate way as it provides constant updates and availability to the OTAs. The OTAs have established timed criteria that must be met. This assures rate parity and no overbookings.
Through “Scraping”. It is kind of an automated software program that goes out and pulls your availability and then automatically updates the channel. The problem with this is it typically runs only once per day. This means your rates and inventory may be outdated.
Ideally, The Channel Manager should be integrated with your Property Management System (PMS) and Booking Engine. The integration allows the hotelier to have total control and efficiently manage their operation.
Benefits of a Channel Manager
Some obvious benefits a property will obtain when utilizing this tool are:
Minimizing mistakes and gaining efficiency. As mentioned, The Channel Manager eliminates duplication in the update process, so avoid human errors caused by manual work. Just with a rate and availability adjustment on the dashboard, the data is automatically synchronized among different online distribution channels in real-time. It ensures data accuracy and consistency and avoids overbooking problems.
Saving time, staff energy and even human cost. Using Channel Manager, the hotel’s staff do not have to go and update data on each OTA, so they have more time to focus on taking care of the customers and improving the service. For some hotels, they can save money to hire an employee for just managing OTA sales as before because the task is now simplified thanks to Channel Manager and any existing reservation employee can handle it as well.
Increasing the property’s online presence. As over 21% of travelers use an OTA to plan and book all or part of their trip, according to a study in 2018, the exposure of property on OTAs is absolutely essential to market their property. As of early 2019, there are more than 400 OTAs and the trick is to get listed on them to maximize your online presence. Now that a channel manager can connect a hotel to as many channels as desired, hotels using one will enhance their online presence.
Hotel Link Channel Manager is highly recommended by the world-leading OTA Booking.com because of our quality connectivity service.