Booking, Trivago, Expedia, HRS or Momondo – these are just a few of the numerous hotel booking portals. And all of them want to be serviced. Therefore the online distribution of hotel rooms is not always easy. Only those who permanently maintain their prices and contingents remain bookable, avoid overbooking and stabilise the occupancy rate. Many hosts use channel managers to support them in their daily work. But what do channel managers do anyway?
Controlling the sales channels
The number of bookings made via online travel agencies (OTAs) is rising. According to a recent survey by Bitkom, about 70 % of online bookers booked their accommodation on a booking platform last year. And the number continues to grow.
Which accommodations travellers book depends largely on which position they are listed. The higher an accommodation is at the top of the list, the more likely it is that holidaymakers will book it. Provided that it passes the direct comparison with other competitors. Most bookings are made directly via the OTA, less often on the hotel website. After all, the booking and comparison portals are often the first port of call for searchers. As a result, hotels, guesthouses, holiday flats or campsites are more dependent on their regulations.
The number of booking portals and metasearch engines makes it difficult for hoteliers to manage room prices and contingents. In order to remain competitive, to optimize capacity utilization and thus sales, these processes have to run smoothly. It is, therefore, all the more important that hoteliers keep a constant eye on their prices, adjust rates (see also revenue management) and adjust availability on the portals. And this is where channel managers get involved.
How channel managers work
Channel managers are special systems in the hospitality industry that facilitate the daily management of online sales channels such as booking portals. So that hoteliers manage all room prices, rates and availabilities simultaneously via one software. As a result, prices and bookings no longer have to be compared and updated separately on all platforms. This also means that the respective channel management system must have various interfaces to the booking portals used so that all data can be transferred automatically.
Thus, hoteliers save a lot of time. But that’s not all: they can also implement a much more effective pricing policy and avoid overbooking. The system compares the availability of bookings and adjusts them on all channels in a matter of seconds. The clou is: hoteliers can precisely control the quotas for each channel. So, for example, all free rooms can be booked on the hotel’s own website and just a certain percentage on chargeable booking portals. That way, hosts save themselves expensive commissions on the portals and promote more direct bookings via their own websites. In addition, also seasonal fluctuations and promotions can be deposited in channel managers.
Depending on the provider, there are additional functions available so that hoteliers, for example, keep an eye on the pricing of their competitors or exchange bookings directly with the hotel software (PMS). Some systems are even a combination of hotel software and channel manager.
Take control of the online distribution of your rooms!
Read our next interview with Viato, a channel management expert, to learn more about the features and benefits of a good channel manager.
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