A channel manager has always been the first port of call for any hoteliers needing an effective distribution strategy for their property. This nifty bit of software will usually list rooms across multiple booking sites and as rooms are booked they will automatically delete them from the inventory so that front desk doesn’t have to. For a broader explanation read our previous blog here.
With the pandemic forcing many hoteliers to cut operating costs, many might wonder whether a channel manager is a real necessity and if it’s possible to go without. After all, they can be expensive and a channel manager only automates a process that any human can do, right? Well, yes and no. Read on to find out.
Do I Really Need One?
For a single listing many would consider a channel manager to be overkill, but even then complications can arise unless there is someone monitoring new reservations to avoid the risk of overbookings. Without one, even small businesses need to split their inventory and rates across different platforms, running the risk of lowered occupancy. And running at less than full capacity to save money in the short term could be considered a false economy in the long run. But if channel managers are really a necessity you may ask, how do you go about choosing one?
Do the Research
Many prospective buyers rush into a decision without giving it much thought and yet good research is critical to making the right choice. For example, a flat monthly fee will usually be more cost effective than commission based charges. Be methodical in your approach and take your time. Follow the stops outlined below:
Be methodical in your approach and take your time
Decide What You Need it to Do
No two channel managers are created equal. While we’ve discussed in broad strokes what they are designed to do, they will often vary their approach. For example, the most expensive channel managers will have a connection to a huge host of channels that may not be needed for a smaller hotel. On the other hand, more basic models may not sync calendars or rates and require the hotel to manually update some processes themselves.
Narrow Down the Choices
Make a shortlist of all the software you feel is a good fit. Check out this blog to compare the features that all good channel managers should have as standard.
Discuss it With Your Staff
If you aren’t going to be the one using the software, then definitely take the time to chat with those who will. Walk through the options with them and get their feedback. Most good systems will offer a free trial period so you can try before you buy; this could be a good opportunity to test the system out first and make sure it integrates with other software like your Property Management System (PMS).
Chat to the Vendor
Before signing up, it’s always a good idea to arrange a call with the software provider. Talk through any questions or concerns you might have and always check whether they have any signup offers or discounts for new business. Implementing new software and getting set up should happen as smoothly as possible so make sure you know exactly how long it will take to get set up and onboard.
Find out more about Sirvoy’s Property Management System and integrated channel manager here.