Choosing a Channel Manager for your hotel? Here is a 14 point checklist

Are you thinking it is high time that your hotel needs a channel manager? Or are you unhappy with your existing channel manager? 

Firstly let us clear some misconceptions around channel managers. The most common misconception is that a “Channel Management Solution” is the same as a “Channel Manager”. This is not true – a Channel Manager is software which provides connectivity to online travel agencies (OTAs) to update rates, inventories, sold out etc quickly and in a few clicks.

So what is a channel management solution? As the word “solution” implies, it is a more complete way of using channel manager to maximise online bookings. It helps hotels reduce work load, helps manage channels proactively to drive more bookings.

The solution includes both technology (ie the channel manager) and the online business development process to make the technology deliver results. Technology on its own will not generate bookings for your hotel. A channel management solutions takes the entire responsibility for the hotel’s online bookings through OTAs and ensures the consistency in work and delivers results.

Today, there are so many channel managers providing technology to connect your hotel to OTAs, but how do you figure out which one will work for you? And is it the complete solution for your needs?

As a channel manager is a key component for hotel distribution, marketing and revenue management, it is important to spend time figuring out the best
solutions for your hotel. To help you find the best channel management solutions, here are some questions to ask:

  1. Will you have a dedicated account manager? Where possible choose a complete channel management solutions, where you are assigned an account manager who can help take your hotel to the next level and is there to support you when required.
  2. Can it connect to a wide range of OTA channels? As there are many channel managers that have limited number of OTA connections. Eg. They can only connect to 4 to 5 OTAs. But choose a vendor who is connected to a wider list of OTAs.
  3. Can it save you time? Stop wasting time by doing manual updates on OTA portals to update rates, inventory etc. Use the single dash board to maintain rate parity. Saves time and saves cost.
  4. Can you increase online sales? Once you are connected to multiple channels, how much easier is it for you to manage pricing based on competition and seasonality?
  5. Does it help you analyse competition? Can it help you with a single dashboard to compare your pricing with the competitors and vary pricing dynamically based on demand and supply.
  6. Is it easy to understand and manage data? Is it possible to extract the daily and monthly report based on check-in and check-out, by OTA? This will help in planning better and increase revenue, based on performance checks of the individual OTAs.
  7. Does it have the right functionality? You should have the control or access of the functionalities like rates, inventory, minimum stay, stop sell, closed to arrival, closed to departure, free sale, breakfast option, packages etc. This helps in being efficient and avoid dependency on a third party.
  8. Do they provide high quality training? Once the product is purchased, do you receive adequate training? What kind of customer support is expected?
  9. What is the user access like? Do you expect multiple user access for different departments? Or do you need the access to particular field like inventory management?
  10. Can they help you with pricing strategy? Before choosing a channel management solution, you should check the user friendliness of the pricing module. How flexible is it? Can it be changed daily?
  11. Can it handle different Rate Plans? Can it create different plan like AP, MAP, CP? Can it create single / double occupancy plan?
  12. How good is the tax setting ?– and how easy is it to upload tax? Can it create different tax structure based on only room basis, based on AP, CP, MAP?
  13. What is the type of inventory and sold out management – how easy is it to update inventory and sold out? Does it take one click or many? How user friendly is it?
  14. Can it help manage promotions – can it create promotions based on peak season, low season, monsoon etc?

Once you choose based on these questions, you can rest assured that online success is on its way. You are not only having the best channel management solutions, but a partner helping you to increase your visibility, credibility and profitability.

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