A channel manager is an indispensable tool for every vacation rental host who manages their properties on more than one listing platform.
To reach a wider audience, more and more vacation rental owners choose to list their properties on multiple online booking channels. This strategy has its benefits, such as an enhanced occupancy rate and a boost in revenue.
In fact, according to AirDNA’s research, hosts who follow a multi-channel distribution strategy earn 2x more than those who use just one vacation rental listing platform. Let’s explore the main benefits of a channel manager and how you should choose the right solution for your business.
A channel manager is a software tool that allows you to manage your vacation rentals listed on third-party channels from one place. It automatically updates rates, availability, and reservations across a number of online travel agencies (OTAs) in real-time.
Hoteliers are the primary users of channel management systems. With the help of channel management software, hoteliers have been managing their inventory on multiple booking channels for years to avoid overbooking. In a nutshell, a channel manager connects a booking engine or a property management system to various online distribution channels. This allows for managing hotel inventory across a variety of booking channels from a single place.
For example, once a guest books a hotel room on Expedia, the availability will automatically change on other channels where the room is listed. It works the same way if you update rates or make other adjustments. It nullifies the need to switch between multiple accounts. A channel manager keeps listings up to date and accelerates online sales for hotels.
Real-time connectivity and the ability to sync information instantly are essential features of hotel channel managers. Otherwise, the risk of overbooking or double-booking will still be significant and may affect sales and profits. A pooled inventory model is also crucial for effective channel management.
This means that room inventory is shared across all the channels, rather than distributed manually on a channel-by-channel basis. Such a model also ensures that availability and other listing data can be advertised across all channels at the same time.
Vacation rental hosts have adopted this technology as well as it helps to automate and ease the process of property management. Channel managers integrate with booking sites via an API or iCal connection and instantly sync data from different channels. Each channel manager provider offers a specific set of booking channels they connect to.
As mentioned earlier, hotel channel managers help simplify the process of room inventory management across various distribution channels and keep calendars consistent.
But what are the benefits of using a channel manager for vacation rental owners? Let’s take a closer look at how a channel manager can help your business.
Double-bookings are a major concern of every short-term rental host. To avoid double-booking scenarios, you should update your calendars regularly. However, you can get quickly overwhelmed if you have your properties listed on numerous channels.
The solution is a channel manager that synchronizes your calendars so a guest can only book your property when it is indeed available. Using a channel manager, you won’t have to worry about double-bookings and their negative effect on your business.
Thanks to a two-way synchronization, a channel manager can help you update your listings on numerous connected channels in no time. Instead of accessing each channel separately to make adjustments to your listings, you can do it from the software. This way, your listings will feature only up-to-date information.
You can save yourself from the hassle of making manual updates to your listings. Although updating rates or availability is not rocket science, routine operations can take up all of your time. A channel manager will help you save time, so you can focus more on scaling your business.
Keeping your calendar up-to-date is essential for your revenue management strategy and facilitating the booking process. The correct information regarding availability helps prevent double-bookings and cancellations. Therefore, this prevents losses in profits and has a positive impact on your overall revenue.
By tracking your channels from one place, you will be able to see which of them brings you the most value. You can then analyze the data and adjust rates to maximize your ROI.
With the help of a channel manager, you can establish your presence on various vacation rental sites and add new channels to your arsenal. If a channel manager connects to OTAs where you don’t have any listings yet, you can consider setting them up there. More channels mean a wider reach and more potential guests who can book with you
A channel manager is a type of software with a primary feature that manages the availability and rates of your inventory across several platforms. It receives and pushes information to/from various channels where you have listings.
A property management system (PMS) is a robust platform that goes beyond syncing calendars and updating rates. A property management system can help you with more complex tasks like:
By using an advanced property management system, you can increase your business efficiency without expanding your team. That means you can save on the workforce while optimizing your business for maximum productivity.
The main difference between hotel channel managers and vacation rental ones lies in the type of distribution channels they connect to.
As a short-term rental host, you should opt for a software solution specifically designed for vacation rental management. Channel managers for short-term rentals can connect to:
In addition to the above-mentioned channels, a hotel channel management system can connect to:
In short, a channel manager can be beneficial to any hospitality business. It is useful for anyone who rents out their properties on a short-term basis. It may come in handy for:
If you don’t have a team in place, a channel manager is the right substitute. If you manage your rental on more than one platform, this tool can turn into your best helper. As mentioned above, you can rest assured that no double-bookings will occur.
What’s more, making alterations to your listings will become easier. You can save tons of your time and focus more on expanding your business.
As a rule, property managers are responsible for more than one property. They have to pay due attention to each of them. Otherwise, it may result in double-bookings and a loss of profit. The cost of mistakes is even higher than when you manage your own properties.
This is why a channel management system is a perfect solution for property managers. As a property manager, you will be able to focus more on improving customer experience rather than worrying about properties’ availability.
It is hard to imagine a property management company without a channel manager. Property management companies handle vacation rental properties of all types. Plus, they are often listed on different OTAs and channels. A channel manager ensures consistency in availability and rates and frees up staff resources for more business-scaling activities.
However, it is better for vacation rental property management companies and solo property managers to select a more comprehensive tool in the long run. Vacation rental software or PMS with a channel manager feature, like iGMS, can help optimize various aspects of a short-term rental business. Aside from updating availability and rates, it offers automated messaging, reviews, a unified inbox for all your messages, team and cleaning management, and a lot more.
A channel manager can also come in handy for a hotel of any type and size. Hotel channel managers can help distribute inventory across a myriad of sales channels. It is an excellent opportunity for any hotel to increase exposure and attract more bookings.
At the same time, a channel manager helps hoteliers update availability and pricing across these channels. Without a channel manager, keeping track of bookings and prices is time-consuming and inefficient. So, utilizing technology is a smart move to keep things under control.
A channel manager is not a technology that is available for free. Although there are inexpensive options, you should be sure that it will provide a stable connection to the platforms of your choice. Otherwise, you can end up dealing with double-bookings and unsatisfied guests.
Take your time to do thorough research and explore each option carefully when deciding on the tool to go for.
Here are detailed suggestions to guide you through the process of choosing the best channel manager.
Search the internet for channel management providers. Find several alternatives that may suit your needs. Then take a closer look at each tool and find out what channels they support. Compare their offerings and pricing plans to ensure you get the best value for money.
Visit comparison websites like Capterra, GetApp, or G2Crowd to learn how different options stack up. These websites aggregate ratings and reviews from people who have already made a purchase and tried the tools in action. They evaluate tools based on various criteria. Among them are pricing, ease of use, features, customer service, etc.
Read reviews about each tool, paying close attention to its pros and cons. Relying only on ratings is not enough when selecting a tool for frequent use.
The next step is to try the options that you have selected in action. Check out if there is a free demo or a free trial to sign up for. A free demo is a good opportunity to learn more about the tool and ask questions. On the other hand, a free trial will help you understand how user-friendly the tool is and whether it meets your requirements.
Professional support is also a big plus when it comes to selecting the best channel manager. During your free trial, you can address questions to a support team and learn more about the tool.
The price of a channel manager is also one of the main aspects to consider. Channel managers can use different pricing models. Some may require a commission-based fee, while others can charge for each channel separately.
However, the best pricing model is a flat fee that is usually charged on a monthly basis. It allows you to avoid unexpected spikes in spending and going over your budget.
Before you become a channel manager customer, you should be sure that a tool has the necessary functionality a good channel manager is supposed to have. When choosing software for your business, look for the following features:
Seamless integrations with the top OTAs allow for fast and smooth communication between channels and a channel manager.
You don’t want to miss out on bookings because of poor connectivity. Similarly, you will want to be sure that availability and other aspects of your listings are consistent across all the platforms you have connected to.
If a channel manager provides integration with channels where you don’t have any listings yet, it is a great chance to list your properties there. This will increase exposure for your rentals and help you land more bookings.
It goes without saying that a channel manager that you choose should have a clear and user-friendly interface. An easy setup is also crucial if you want to start using a tool right away without spending too much time on onboarding.
It should provide easy-to-use functions for grouping various channels. By grouping listings from different channels, you will be able to manage them as a single property.
Choose a tool that has a qualified support team in place. They will be able to help you if any issues emerge or any questions arise. A support team usually interacts with a development team and reports any bugs or glitches that can affect your user experience.
If there is no support team to help you with a tool, chances are you will stop using it eventually.
A channel manager should provide the capability to carry out business operations on the go. Therefore, when selecting a channel manager, make sure there is a mobile app. A mobile app will ensure that you can access essential information on the move. You will be able to make the necessary updates when needed using your smartphone.
Staying on top of your business results is vital for making wise business decisions. A channel manager with reporting functionality will help you identify the best-performing channels. This way, you will be able to allocate your resources based on real data.
The success of vacation rental businesses depends on many factors.
One of the major factors is the ability of a vacation rental host or a property manager to make the best use of time and available resources. This is where automation comes into play. It can help you save time on routine tasks and streamline your business operations.
While a channel manager is a great tool to maintain consistency for your listings, an all-in-one short-term rental software like iGMS can help amplify the growth of your business. Aside from keeping your listings in sync, iGMS offers a full package of advanced features that can simplify your routine tasks:
About the Author
Olga Vasylieva is the Content and Social Media Team Lead at iGMS. Olga is on a mission to help hosts and property managers grow their businesses and deliver an excellent guest experience. She is a travel enthusiast and is inspired by life in all its aspects.
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