Industry  |  5 February 2021 |  Eva Lacalle

What is a channel manager and why should hotels use one?

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Anyone who’s been involved in the hospitality industry for longer than the last few years will be well aware of how the Internet has changed the rules. This is particularly the case in regards to bookings, promotions, current rates and availability. 

Nowadays as a hotelier, it’s a must to join online reservation platforms in order to maximize your revenue. However, it can also be very difficult to manage all these platforms, as well as to keep track of the metrics they generate, in real time. This is when the power of a channel manager comes into play. 

What is a hotel channel manager? How does this digital architecture function and what are some of its primary benefits? These are a handful of the questions that we’ll address immediately below.

 

What is a channel manager for hotels?

A hotel channel manager is a tool designed to help hotel owners effectively manage customer data, online inventory and price rates. It also allows hotels to simultaneously update their information across multiple platforms, providing a streamlined and user-friendly means to keep potential guests informed so that they can make educated decisions at the right times. This is much more productive when compared to manually monitoring multiple sales channels through traditional in-house methods. 

Property owners could, therefore, spend less time focused on providing the latest details in online platforms and spend more energy on other core hospitality concerns such as marketing, client engagement, and sales. 

 

How does a channel manager work?

As previously stated, the main intention of a channel manager is to provide real-time updates across multiple online distribution portals.

In some ways, the mechanics of a channel manager are not altogether different from other pipeline management software. Users will be provided with a centralized dashboard that supports a host of functions such as accessing live room rates, availability, and vacancies. Hotel owners and managers can then make any changes via this single system. 

While this is undoubtedly advantageous for smaller boutique properties, it will provide even more targeted solutions when it comes to larger hotels and franchised chains that have a strong presence across multiple OTAs. 

But is this a really important feature? Current research highlights that no fewer than 83 percent of customers choose to book a hotel reservation online. Channel managers can automatically update your hotel information across a huge number of channels, including big names such as:

  • Booking.com
  • Expedia
  • Vrbo
  • Airbnb 

This system is perfectly integrated with a hospitality system such as Mews. Any change that you make in the property management system will be synchronized with a channel manager and then to all online platforms. 

 

What are the advantages of using a hotel channel manager?

Using a channel manager is a must if you want to remain one step ahead of the competition. This kind of software excels by providing hotel managers with the following benefits of managing customer data, price rates and available rooms:

  • Efficiency
  • Centralization
  • Automation
  • Scalability
  • Customer satisfaction 

These benefits make channel managers some of the most reliable software in the hotel industry, as well as one of the most effective, providing the following advantages:

Allows you to focus on other tasks

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that this software enables property owners and managers to return their focus to other core competencies such as sales, guest engagement, and on-site services. Simply stated, channel management software will save a significant amount of time.

Keep your inventory up to date

Channel managers are able to provide the clarity and insight required to make the right decisions at the right times. This is obviously critical in terms of addressing the needs of potential guests while keeping them informed of any important changes as they occur.

Increase online bookings

Finally, channel management software can help to increase online bookings due to the simple fact that stakeholders will be able to connect with more OTAs. A greater virtual presence is paramount in this day and age, as such a digital footprint will increase exposure and ultimately lead to greater brand recognition. Once again, these advantages would be nearly impossible when utilizing conventional methods alone. 

 

How to use a channel manager in the hospitality industry

So, how can channel managers be applied to real-world scenarios within the hospitality sector? We already highlighted the ability to enhance online booking rates and this is only the beginning. 

Channel managers provide a centralized means to monitor all of the most important metrics. Because these figures can be modified instantaneously, reservations can be approved at an exponentially faster rate when compared to traditional techniques. Furthermore, this approach eliminates much of the confusion associated with multi-channel oversight. The chances of overbookings are therefore dramatically reduced. This will ultimately lead to more robust levels of customer satisfaction.

Hospitality analytics is yet another area to address. Due to the inherently competitive nature of the industry, rate optimization is always important. Managers will be able to better appreciate which channels are the most popular as well as when it may be wise to modify existing rates based upon current demand (particularly when dealing with busier times of the year). 

Another surprising windfall of channel management systems is that they can help to increase direct bookings. The majority of customers will first encounter a hotel via an OTA before choosing to examine the property in greater detail by visiting its official website. In any case, if the client arrives at your website you can use the channel manager to build your own booking engine which will be synced to your PMS.

On a final note, we need to recognize that channel managers should not necessarily be viewed as standalone software bundles. While they offer powerful advantages, their functionality can be dramatically enhanced when employed alongside the flexible and user-centered property management system platforms such as Mews. This way, hoteliers and guests alike can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Conclusion

Online competition is rife throughout the hospitality industry. It makes sense to utilize the most advanced tools on the market. Channel management solutions will continue to exert a powerful influence within our sector, and managers who can leverage their advantages are setting themselves up for plenty of success in the future. 

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Eva Lacalle
5 February 2021