A Channel Manager is a system that allows you to easily manage all your rooms, on all connected booking channels, from one single point. Think of adjusting all availability, prices and restrictions in an instant. Previously you had to go through every booking site to make manual changes, but now it's all centralised in the Channel Manager. In addition, the system also collects all reservations from the booking sites, which are then redirected to the linked booking system. In case you don't have a PMS, the reservations are stored and can be viewed in the Channel Manager.
How does a Channel Manager work?
In this explanation, we assume that you have linked a PMS to the Channel Manager. If this is not the case, you can ignore the steps in which the PMS is involved.
A Channel Manager can be seen as a gateway that can pass on information to different systems. For example, it can receive price and availability updates from the PMS, after which these updates are passed on directly to the booking sites.
When a reservation is made on, for example Booking.com, this reservation will be transferred to the Channel Manager. After that, two things happen: first, the Channel Manager ensures that the reservation is forwarded to the PMS. Secondly, the new room availability is updated, and an update is sent to all linked online distribution channels. Online distribution channels include booking sites (like Booking.com), metasearch, GDS and your own booking site.
Why do I need a Channel Manager?
If you don't have a Channel Manager yet, you may find it difficult to manually keep track of multiple booking channels. You need to be precise and be able to act fast; it's almost a full-time job. A Channel Manager will almost always get you a lot more than it will cost you because:
- It saves you a lot of time and mistakes because you never have to manually keep track of your channels again.
- You can sell more rooms because the system continuously adjusts the correct availability on all booking sites.
- You have less or no overbookings because you don't have to adjust the availability yourself.
- You can easily connect to multiple booking sites and increase your visibility.
- It is the link between all connectivity partners and hotel software (PMS, IBE, CRS, GDS, OTA, META, RMS), so everything is always synchronised.
What is the best Channel Manager?
There is no single answer to this question, as there are many different parties in the market that all have their own strengths and weaknesses. It is especially important to ask yourself what you, as a hotelier, expect from a Channel Manager. Do you want an infinite choice of booking sites to link to? Do you want it to specialize in connecting to the PMS party you are already working with? Do you have a complicated pricing structure, which the Channel Manager has to be able to handle? Do you have specific wishes concerning the service provided with the system? Our advice is to write down all these wishes and then make an inventory of the parties.
For more than 16 years, SmartHOTEL has been helping hoteliers navigate the exciting world of online distribution. From our office based in the Netherlands, our team serves independent hotels, hostels and chains worldwide by providing channel management and tailored online distribution solutions. A lot has changed over the last years, but our goal remains the same: simply connect hotels to the world. For any questions regarding our services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 (0)182 75 11 18.