Channel Manager is considered as the preferred solution for managing the ever-changing and complex hotel distribution landscape.
There are hundreds of Channel Managers in the market today with varying price points and features. With so many options available, here are a few pointers to help you narrow down the search and choose the best solution which meets the hotel’s business needs and requirements.
Fully Integrates with Property Management System (PMS) – Channel Manager should offer a two-way connection that can be easily be synchronized with a PMS. This is one of the key features: this helps to minimize the risk of double booking or overbooking, provides ease of handling and managing direct bookings and ensures a fully automated and streamlined booking process.
Connects To Wider List of OTAs, Distributors and Metasearch Engines – Choose a channel manager which is connected to top OTAs ( Booking.com & Expedia) and also to a wider list of OTAs, wholesalers, GDS, vacation rentals portals and partners who bring in customers from various source market including global markets.
Flawless Interface with Hotel Software and Booking Engine – Offer easy implementation of “Book Now” button on the hotel’s website to allow guests to check rates and availability and book a room directly with the hotel. Booking engine should be integrated with the hotel’s website, front desk or reservation system and channel manager. It should be fully responsive on smartphones, tablets etc, and have a secured payment gateway to facilitate direct bookings seamlessly.
Analytics, Reports & Tools – Provide tools and reports to analyze historical data, current performance, provide insights into future trends to optimize channel mix, help with pricing strategy based on demand & supply and competition. Reports should be easy to access and understand. Some dashboard/reports are the daily, weekly and monthly reports, check-in and check-out information, arrival reports, performance of individual OTAs, performance comparison of OTAs, occupancy status, competition report,etc.
Pooled Inventory for Availability & Parity – Support automated pooled inventory across all channels including hotel’s website to maintain uniform room availability and parity on all the channels at the same time
Real-time Data Transfer – Any update or change related to rates, inventory and availability should be instant or has quickest possible refresh time for error-free booking and seamless booking process.
Ease of Tax Setting – Some OTAs offer rates inclusive of taxes and some with tax separate. A Channel Manager should be able to support a multiple tax structure including tax set-up based on room only, meal type and seasonality.
Control or Access to Key Functionalities – Offer full control or access to key functionalities like rates, inventory, minimum stay stop sell, room blocking for a specific period, closed to arrival, closed to departure, inventory management, offers, packages etc.
Create & Manage Different Plans – Ability to create different rate plans based on occupancy, meals including master & derived rate plan and be able to seamlessly integrated across all distribution partners and OTAs.
Create and Manage Promotions & Offers and Cancellation Policy – Ability to create and manage promotions, offers and cancellation policies based on room type, meal plans, and seasonality.
Multiple Languages and Currency Conversions – Support multiple languages and currency conversions to make the booking process easier for hotels and bookers and to attract bookers across the globe.
Guest Relationship Management & Information Database – Ability to store and update guest’s information like contact details, email ID, booking history etc. for future reference and provide a safe and secure system to access and store guests’ credit card information.
Mobile Friendly and Accessibility – Accessible from mobile and is not restricted to any computer system.
User Access and Restriction – Support multiple user access from different departments and provision to set user rights to allow or restrict data access eg. Credit card details, rate updates, inventory management etc.
Regular Timely Support, Product Training & Guarantee – Offer regular product training, comprehensive support, and assistance and in case, of an overbooking situation because of software malfunction or system issues, the provider will reimburse the cost of relocating a guest.
Cost – Typically, there are two different types of payment models, either commission- based or monthly flat fee. Pick and choose the one which best suits the hotel, based on budget and business requirements.