May 21, 2024

What Is a Channel Manager? - A Short Guide to Understand It

May 21, 2024
Company updates

What Is a Channel Manager? - A Short Guide to Understand It

Raul Tomescu
CEO & Founder

Introduction to Channel Management Software

A channel manager is basically a channel management software that makes it easy for property managers or accommodation providers to advertise their vacation rental business on several online platforms at the same time.

The primary task of a channel management software is to manage the availability data and prices of rooms, and generate reports for the vacation rental owners, whom listed their bed and breakfast, for example, on multiple channels, like a direct booking website, through online travel agents or online travel agencies, booking sites or global distribution systems.

Bedroom of a holiday home.

The All in One Solution in Hospitality Industry

In other words, if we work in the hospitality industry, this could be your all in one solution. With a powerful channel manager, you only need to change the settings through the management software, and thanks to the real time synchronization it will change the property content on all individual channels all at once, keeping all the settings and revenue management up to date.

So you can save time and countless hours of meticulous manual work requiring a high level of attention to detail, therefore we can remove the possibility of human error from the calculation that can usually occur with manual tasks.

How is a Channel Manager Different from a Property Management System?

This is a legitimate question, as we are talking about two pieces of vacation rental software that are both used for property management when it comes to vacation rentals, and are both a kind of all in one system.

However, like channel managers, there are several types of PMS, and several of them have built-in channel manager functionality. So a channel manager can be standalone software, but it can also be a sub-function within a PMS.

Leaving that aside for now, the biggest difference between them is that they focus on different aspects of property management and marketing.

In the following subheadings you can read about the key differences between a channel manager and a property management system (also called PMS for short).

The Difference in Functionality Between a Channel Manager & a Property Management System

In terms of its function, a property management system is mostly created to manage the day-to-day operations of a vacation rental and to ensure a positive guest experience.

A channel manager is a more specialized tool, as it was designed to manage the allocation of room inventory between booking channels and booking sites. Its main objective is to synchronize room availability (also useful for hotel rooms), to ensure dynamic pricing, to avoid overbooking or double bookings, all meanwhile maximizing occupancy with getting more bookings.

Sofa in a holiday home.
Holiday home decoration.

So a channel manager focuses on stock allocation on the different marketing channels. A good channel manager can update room availability and the pricing model to prevent double bookings, simultaneously across multiple distribution channels.

Good channel managers are ensuring consistency and accuracy of information across all sales channels, giving you a comprehensive reporting about all your listings and calendar availability. Channel management frees you from the burden of having multiple accounts, as you can manage and have all the connected channels in one place.

The Integration

Channel managers are mostly stand-alone systems that can be easily integrated with other operational tools such as property managers to provide more reliable vacation rental inventory availability assessment and exchange of data on prices and reservations through different sales channels.

These functions are not only available in the vacation rental channel manager, but also in the property management system in general. But a channel management system is truly an all in one system among vacation rental software, and there are several varieties, but more on that later.

The Target Users

Channel managers are used to manage the expansion strategies of vacation rentals, maximize online bookings throughout the various channels, and manage the pooled inventory efficiently across other channels. Only a few property managers can do the same as vacation rental software.

So a property manager is designed more to manage the operations of a vacation rental, while channel managers are designed to manage sales channels and facilitate the pooled inventory model. However, both are crucial to use in the vacation rental industry.

Who Should Use a Channel Manager?

A channel manager is a software designed to help different businesses manage multiple channels from one place. But there are many types of businesses, not just in hospitality, whose professionals can benefit from how a channel manager work, such as:

  • hotels and accommodation providers,
  • travel agencies and tour operators,
  • property management companies,
  • e-commerce businesses,
  • multi-location businesses,
  • marketing and distribution managers,
  • hospitality consultants,
  • and also corporate travel managers.

Which is the Best Channel Manager?

There is no concrete answer to this question, as it depends a lot on your personal preferences and the type of business you have.

However, hotel software with included channel managers such as Visitor, SiteMinder or Cloudbeds are highly regarded for their comprehensive functionality and ease of use, as well as their capability of integration with other channels.

How Do You Choose a Channel Manager?

First and foremost, be clear about your business goals and what these goals require. Compare channel manager features, budget, test the software if you have the opportunity. Based on these, narrow down which channel manager best fits your needs and those of your business.

It can be also useful to ask other vacation rental owners for their insight.

The Types of Channel Managers

Channel management can be grouped in different ways, based on what their primary purpose is. The size of the property, our budget, any special requirements, personal preferences, etc. can be important factors.

However, you can also categorize channel management based on the type of property you want to use them for. You can read more about these below.

Vacation Rental Channel Manager

They are designed for property owners who want to rent out their holiday homes, apartments or similar properties on a short-term basis. A vacation rental channel manager is mainly specialized in features such as calendar synchronization across multiple booking sites to avoid double bookings, dynamic pricing, guest communication tools and guest reviews.

Hotel Channel Manager

These channel manager software tools are specifically designed for hotels, whether they are chains, independent hotels or resorts. Important features such as room inventory management, revenue management, rate optimization, avoiding double bookings, integration with property management are given with a hotel channel manager.

Sofa in a holiday home.
Decoration of a vacation rental.

Also, in order to be able to expand, connectivity with booking channels, online travel agencies, are built into a hotel channel management system to reach as wide a range of people as possible.

Channel Management for Bed & Breakfast

For those who run bed and breakfasts. This channel manager is tailored to the special needs of a vacation rental from this kind, as they have more specific requirements than hotels or a vacation rental business.

For this reason, a vacation rental channel manager from this type is equipped with built-in features such as room availability management, avoiding double bookings, room filtering based on guest preferences, breakfast options, and integration with online booking sites.

Protein rich breakfast.

Hostel Channel Management Software

Obviously, these are tailored to the specific needs of hostels. They are characterized by the fact that most hostels offer dormitory-style accommodation, with private rooms being less common, and are usually shared bathrooms and toilets.  

Thus, hostel channel management has functions that take into account the availability of dorm beds, as well as check-in and check-out of guests aka calendar availability, group bookings, new booking and direct booking, connecting with online travel agents, and integration with various booking engine.

Resort Channel Management Software

The majority of resorts are luxury resorts, more often located in prominent tourist destinations, so it is not uncommon for them to include spas and meet various luxury requirements. Resort channel managers therefore offer features related to room types, service packages, activities and of course integration with other booking sites where such resorts can be advertised.

Living room of a vacation home.
Living room in pastel colors.

Avoid Double Bookings - the Benefits of a Channel Manager

A channel manager offers several benefits to vacation rental providers in the vacation rental industry, regardless of whether they manage hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, or other types of properties. Some key benefits are:

✅ automation of manual tasks,

✅ making you save time and effort,

✅ helps you find the right channel mix,

✅ helps with channel connections,

✅ makes navigating the vacation rental industry easier,

✅ keeps all your listings in one centralized calendar,

✅ you don't need to pay additional fees,

✅ you don't need to use multiple accounts,

✅ keeps your channel connections up to date,

✅ helps you prevent double bookings,

✅ helps you get more bookings.

Living room of a holiday home.
Living room with a view.

Conclusion on Channel Manager

If you run a business in the hospitality industry and have online advertising, it's essential to have a channel manager, as a channel manager will help you manage bookings, inventory, and sales across several channels, to help you save time.

A channel manager do all this by centralizing and automating all your listings, keeping them up to date, changing data in real time across all channels, even on your own website, while sending you regular reports, preventing double and overbookings, and optimizing your prices.

When choosing a channel manager, remember your business goals and your individual preferences, as well as how well the manager can be integrated with other channels. With the right channel manager, you can increase your revenue, and enhance the efficiency of your business.

Frequently Asked Questions about Channel Manager

❓What is a channel manager?

A channel manager is a software tool that allows businesses to manage their inventory, optimize their price rates, and manage bookings across multiple distribution channels from a single platform. Since it synchronizes information in real-time, it can also prevent double and overbookings.

❓Who should use a channel manager?

Channel managers are ideal for hotels, B&Bs, vacation rentals, travel agencies, and e-commerce businesses. Any business that sells through multiple online channels, and likes to save time, can benefit from using a channel manager to streamline operations and optimize distribution without additional fees.

❓What are the key features when searching for a channel manager?

These key features, when it comes to a channel manager, include keeping your settings up to date in real-time, integration with various online travel agencies (OTAs) and PMS, dynamic pricing tools, centralized inventory management, advanced reporting and analytics, and user-friendly interfaces. Strong customer support is also crucial.

❓How does a channel manager prevent overbookings?

A channel manager prevents overbookings by updating availability in real-time across all connected channels. When a booking is made on one platform, the channel manager immediately adjusts the inventory on all other platforms to reflect the change.

❓How can a channel manager improve revenue?

A channel manager can improve revenue by optimizing pricing strategies, increasing visibility across several channels, and providing data-driven insights for better decision-making. This ensures maximum occupancy and helps in identifying the most profitable marketing channels.

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