While driving direct bookings via your website are a fantastic, cost effective method of selling your rooms and managing your inventory, there are very few hotels in the world, if any, who can afford to rely on direct bookings alone. Ensuring your hotel rooms are visible to as many potential customers as possible has become one of the most vital revenue management strategies in the industry today. But what exactly is channel management in the hotel industry and what features should you be looking for in a good channel manager?
Channel management in the hotel industry is the process of managing online distribution channels to sell your hotel inventory to various agents anywhere in the world, including online travel agents (OTAs), retail travel agents, Meta Search Engines (or aggregators) and Global Distribution Systems (GDS).
A good hotel channel manager facilitates this process by enabling access to live rates and real-time availability of your inventory and minimises the risk of overbooking your rooms.
As with all products that are going to be a vital component of your business, it’s worth doing your homework to ensure that the channel manager you invest in has as many of the latest, industry-leading features as possible to future-proof your business and deliver a good return on investment.
Channel management in the hotel industry is constantly evolving but the following features are the minimum standard you should be looking for:
Two-way integration of your various online booking channels and your hotel’s channel manager are vital to ensure accurate, up-to-date information is displayed automatically on all networks.
Look for a channel manager that allows your live availability to automatically upload from your Property Management System (PMS) or Central Reservation System (CRS) and to receive reservations from all your online channels.
One of the primary aims of your hotel channel manager is to minimise the risk of overbooking so a system that displays your real time availability is vital.
Look for a system that automatically updates your available inventory when a booking is made on any site, whether that be your own website or a third-party booking channel.
The more channels your hotel is connected to the more markets you can tap into and the greater the visibility of your hotel room inventory. This will enable you to maximise your booking potential, using the whole booking ecosystem from around the world.
Look for a provider who is able to deliver multiple connectivity partners including the world’s leading OTAs, access to Meta Search Engines and GDS channels.
Pooled inventory simply means allowing all OTAs and booking agents access to all your room inventory at the same time so that you don’t miss a booking. Without an effective channel manager, you may have to split your inventory and allocate a number of rooms to each OTA individually.
Look for a channel manager that allows you to set up promotions, special offers and extended stays to sell the same physical room on your online channels in a variety of ways.
With so many aspects of your property to manage, buying separate pieces of software can prove costly and time-consuming if they don’t integrate effectively with your current property management systems (PMS) or central reservation systems (CRS).
Ideally, the channel manager you choose will have the capability to integrate smoothly with the systems you already use.
HiRUM’s HiSITE Channel Manager has been at the forefront of channel management in the hotel industry for over 12 years. In fact, our industry-leading software has been designed to not only include all of the features we have talked about here but many more.
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