Can you believe that in the XXI century there are still hostels out there that manage their bookings with pen and paper? Or with Excel?
With all the tools and technical solutions that are out there available to improve your productivity, revenue and time management skills.
And if you are one of that hostels and you read this blog post, then there is hope for you. Because it means that you want to change that.
I promised to deliver to you during February, the posts that can:
- improve your productivity
- improve your time management skills
With the help of the right tools.
You probably read this post because:
✔️ you are the newbie into hostel management and want to get the hang of what the heck means PMS (and no it’s not a premenstrual syndrome in this case) and CM that everyone is talking about
✔️ you manage your hostel and are in the lookout of a brand new PMS that will be a perfect match for your place
✔️ you already own a hostel with a PMS but think about changing for something fresher
Look no more. Because I have prepared this ultimate guide to Property Management Systems and Channel Managers just for you, my friend!
Before we start, here are some points that might describe why you still (!) didn’t invest in a PMS nor CM:
✔️ you didn’t feel you need it – excel sheets worked just fine
✔️ your budget didn’t allow it
✔️ you had no idea that something like that exists
But, if you are here, that means that you are ready to take the next step and level up in how you manage your property. So thank you for being here, and it is my hope that I will help you in making things more clear for you!
Let’s take off with the basics:
What is a Channel Manager
In simple words, it’s a place that connects your hostel inventory with all the selling channels (OTA’s, Travel Agencies, social media, etc.). When someone books a bed in one of the OTAs, it will be automatically updated in other channels and in your inventory. And the other way around.
It allows you to manage your availability and the prices from one place instead of changing this manually in each extranet one by one.
Usually, channel manager is connected to your Property Management System (also many PMSes comes with a built-in channel manager).
Also known as a Hotel Operating System, it is a software solution used in the hospitality industry to coordinate the operational functions of the front desk, sales, reporting and planning. In simple words, the Property Management System automates the hostel operations like bookings, guest information and allocation, payments, point of sale etc.
It also can go with a built-in, or it can be integrated with the Channel Manager, Points of Sales (POS), central reservation systems and tools for the revenue management.
The first PMS appeared on the market in 1980. Since then many things have changed (as you can imagine) and so do the hotel technology expanded.
Tho the market offers many solutions, those that suites the hostel’s needs are not many.
Benefits of having CM
It’s more than evident that when your availability and inventory is updated automatically across all the channels, you save your time which you can devote to other tasks.
Maximizing of bookings and your revenues
By being connected with a variety of OTA and travel agents, you reach more customers and maximize your sales.
Effortlessly reaching a variety of markets
Most of the CM offers different channels that reach markets which, in a normal condition, might be harder for you to reach out. Less chance for overbooking
Some of us get unpleasant chills only by hearing the word ‘overbooking’. Without a doubt using channel manager makes the possibility of being overbooked much more lower…unless you allow it.
No need to be a tech guru
Channel Managers are a cloud-based solution which means they do not need any specific software to be installed. It all happens on one website, where you usually have instructions on how to synchronize channels of your choice with your data.
Sounds great, right?
Benefits of having PMS
✔️ Automatization of the hostel operations
✔️ Make easier to control the property (in general it makes life easier)
✔️ Strengthens productivity (you can focus on other tasks)
✔️ It gives you essential reports and analyzes, which can help improve your business.
Cloud-based vs system based
As I mentioned before many things have changed since the first Property Management System. Some PMSs require installation on the computers. Most of that type of solutions are seen in the hotels, chains of hotels of big hostels.
However, with each day, more popularity gains cloud-based solutions. Which mean that they don’t require installation and you can enter them from anywhere you want from computers, tablets and mobile.
And that makes the cloud-based PMSs more popular between hostel owners. The reason is straightforward: they can control their property easily even when they are not there.
The cloud-based solutions rely entirely on the Internet.
Some of you might think of how reliable is such a system then. To begin with, the unique aspect of the cloud-based PMS is that despite the computer breakdown, virus, server crush, losing internet connection, you can quickly enter it through any other device. And all the data is there thanks to the backups.
Another point that often raises questions is the safety of the data in cloud-based PMS.
As the hostels hold much valuable information like storing credit cards and personal details. Well, these types of PMSs are built on the best hosting providers that are out there with a dedicated team to the security systems.
Most cloud-based Property Management Systems are more accessible and friendlier to use than the traditional desktop PMS.
That does not mean that they have less functionality or are less powerful. Actually, most of them offer much more than conventional PMS.
Tips for choosing the channel manager and property management that is right for your hostel
The number of CMs and PMSs on the market can cause you a headache when you are searching for the one for your property. Depending on what you are looking for, your hostel size, your budget, there are many solutions out there.
1. Your budget
Channel managers and property management systems prices vary a lot, depending on the number of functions and channels available. As a manager or owner, you need to ask yourself how much you can spend on it. The more expensive the channel manager, the more functionalities it has.
What you should take into account too is that many CMs and PMSs charge for its services differently. Usually, what is taken into account is the size of your hostel.
2. Compatibility of CM with your PMS (if you already have one)
If you already use a Property Management System (and if not, it’s worth to consider using it), the best practice is to have a channel manager which is compatible with your PMS. You can either ask your PMS provider for the recommendations or check its website, where usually this information is available.
In this way you will make sure that PMS and Channel Manager will be integrated so they will work together correctly, making it possible that all data and reservations are in your PMS.
3. Variety of channels in CM
While looking for the right channel manager, you should always check if, in the list of OTA’s and travel agencies, you will find the ones that you are interested in. If one of the reservation sources is your own hostel website, the channel manager should also give you the possibility to connect it.
4. Availability of support
The technical support is a crucial factor. What you should check is whether your CM or PMS provides 24-hour assistance, every day of the week or not. If it is quick in responses and if the support is free of charge or requires a fee (yes, that happens).
Many channel managers also offer manuals, which you can find on their websites.
Even if you are looking for the channel manager with advanced functions, check if it is clear and easy to use. This way, the time of work you spend on updating and using it will decrease.
6. Revenue techniques
If you practice revenue management, your channel management should have advanced options so you can push up your occupancy and sales. Check if it gives you the possibility to create different rate plans and if it offers reports and statistic graphs. Is it flexible in dynamic pricing? How friendly user it is when it comes to the pricing strategy?
You should also get to know if there is a possibility to manage promotions – based on the season, events, etc.
7. Tax settings
Is it easy to upload tax? Does it give the opportunity of creating different tax structures?
Great PMS nowadays not only updates but also listen to its customers and introduces de features that are highly requested and necessary.
9. Free Trial
If you have already one Channel Manager or PMS in mind, don’t hesitate and use the free trial period (most of CM/PMS providers have it in an offer). During this time you can test if it works well for you and for your property.
The Channel Manager examples
In the hospitality market, there are many CM providers, so it is simple to get lost. However, some are already well-known and used by many hostels so you can ask the fellow hostelers for a piece of advice and recommendations.
To make it easier I have prepared below the list of Channel Managers I have encountered within hostels, or about which I have heard of.
- Front Desk Master (FYI: options start from 11 euro and prices are based on the capacity of the hostel)
The Property Management System for your hostel
I have gathered a list of the PMSs that have hostels in the heart (in no particular order).
- Cloudbeds (click in the link below to get a $50 credit for Cloudbeds!)
Let me know what system do you use and if it meets your needs. I read you in the comments below or find me on Instagram!
Note that this post might contain affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through them recommended products, I will get a small commission with no extra cost for you. This small money allows me to go for a beer after finishing my shift in a hostel (very often much-needed) and supports maintaining this blog.