With the technology development and the ease of access to information, it is not news what channel managers are. However, I still find some owners and managers of small hostels not aware of the presence of the useful tools that can help their every-day business.
With the development and growing popularity of OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies), it is more than obvious your hostel needs to be there so your place can be visible and found by the potential guests.
The times of clicking from one back office/ extranet to another in order to close the sold rooms, change prices and to prevent the possibility of overbooking are already gone ( since a long time ago). All thanks to the channel managers.
But if you still didn’t get a hang around on what’s going on in the business and how the hell all the people manage to control somewhat all the reservations, here you can find out what are the Channel Managers and how you can choose the one suitable for your hostel.
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.). Once someone book the room in one of the channels, it is automatically updated in the 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, the channel manager is connected to your Property Management System (PMS – about which you can read in this post).
BENEFITS OF A CHANNEL MANAGER
It’s more than obvious that when your availability and inventory is updated automatically across all the channels you save your time which you can sacrifice for other duties.
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.
Easier to reach a variety of markets
Most of the channel managers offer different channels that reach markets which is 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 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?
TIPS TO HELP YOU CHOOSE THE CHANNEL MANAGER FOR YOUR HOSTEL
The number of channel managers on the market can cause you a headache when you will be 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 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 are able to spend on it. The more expensive the channel manager the more functionalities it has.
What you should take into account too is that many CM charge for its services differently. Sometimes it’s the fixed price, another time it can be based on the number of sales. There are also those, where you pay just for what you use.
2. Compatibility with your PMS
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
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 an extremely important factor. What you should check is whether your channel manager provides 24-hour support, 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 offer also manuals, which you can find on their websites.
5. User friendly
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 possibility of creating different tax structures?
8. Free Trial
If you have already one Channel Manager in mind, don’t hesitate and use the free trial period (most of CM providers have it in the offer). During this time you can test if it works well for you and for your property.
CHANNEL MANAGER RECOMMENDATIONS
In the hospitality market, there are many CM providers, so it is very easy to get lost. However, there are some that 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.
Writing about Channel Managers is hard without not mentioning Property Management Systems. Nowadays most PMS are cloud-based solutions and offer already build in CM. In this post, you can learn more about Property Management Systems.
Even a small bed & breakfast or a hostel with 20 beds, can benefit from the channel manager. They say ‘time is money’ so why not saving some by implementing the Channel Manager into your business?
This post is available also in polish.