A good hotel manager always realises that there is plenty of room to improve and optimise the work. The hotel industry has a lot to offer for those, who are willing to learn fast and move step-by-step together with technology. Channel manager is one of those brilliant particles, that any hotelier should consider using.
Why would you need a channel manager?
One of the most important factors when choosing a PMS, is its’ integration with other systems, that are used for a hotel management (accounting, profiling, pricing...)That's when cloud channel manager comes in the picture. However, lots of smaller independent hotels are not using any systems at all. Some of them are still running first-generation booking systems, that they have purchased 5-10 years ago. However, more than 50% of hotel reservations in today’s hotel market come from online. So if you don’t have good integration with your online presence, you might be losing potential reservations.
Just imagine: You are running a 15 rooms hotel (apartment house, hostel...). You are selling your rooms through several most popular channels, such as Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia, HRS... Once you receive a booking from one of these channels, you have to react quickly and update the availability in rest of them. But wait, maybe while you were doing this, the guest modified or canceled his reservation and you have to do all the steps again by running through all your channels and making the room available... What if the guest will change his mind few more times - then you have to spend basically all day just by updating your calendars... Crazy... No time for anything else just robotic data update.
Mistakes to avoid when working with channel manager
Some hoteliers still continue to use manual processes to manage their bookings. Such business are at risk because they keep playing "catch-up" with those hoteliers who have embraced channel manager technology and are enjoying the advantages of it. There are some most common mistakes, that hoteliers are making, when working with Channel Manager. Lets break them one-by-one and give a solution how to solve it.
1. Wrong OTA choice
Most hotels limit themselves by focusing on “Big 5” OTAs. They eliminate the other channels which might be more relevant to their market niche or geographic location. For hoteliers who manage their occupancy manually, is simply impossible to deal with more channels at a time.
Solution: Increase your property’s online presence by utilising dozens of sales channels. Research and include smaller niche and geographically specific OTAs.
2. Abuse of discounts
Generating last-minute bookings through flash sales or great discounts can be dangerous. By doing this recklessly, hotel can harm the long-term success. Offering big discounts and try to boost occupancy over the short term means that hoteliers run the risk of damaging their brand value. It is because they set the level for their hotel to a much lower rate. If a guest books a room few times at a hotel using price as a primary indicator, there’s a real risk that once the discounted price is no longer offered the guest sees no value and may go elsewhere.
Solution: Hoteliers around the world should try to clear their inventory and secure last minute bookings through value-based, well-thought packages and limited time offers. Potential guests can still be swayed to book with a hotel at short notice if they can see the value they are getting from the transaction. Packing room rates with incentives like breakfast or dinner vouchers, a SPA day or discounts on tours can help secure last minute bookings. Such actions will be aligned with a hotel’s pricing strategy without having to sacrifice actual room rates.
3. Rate differences
Not presenting matching room rates across all booking channels can influence guest trust. If a guest books a room at one rate from an OTA, only to find the same room for the same date offered at a cheaper rate through another site, they are likely to come away from the transaction feeling taken advantage of.
Solution: Hoteliers shouldn’t offer exclusive discounts to one channel over another. But this doesn’t mean that smart hospitality industry professionals can’t ‘sweeten the deal’ somewhat to try and attract bookings through particular channels. It doesn’t hurt to make a potential guest feel like they will get something extra if they book now on that channel.
4. Risk of sending guests to competitors
Hotel’s own website is their most profitable channel (commission free). Therefore many hoteliers actively try to drive potential customers directly to their ‘brand.com’, without consideration of the OTA value. Hoteliers would prefer to close out availability on OTA, and save the last of their inventory for their own site. Theoretically it might seem like a smart decision but by doing so, hoteliers are actually risking that potential guests will move down to the next hotel on the OTA’s list that has available rooms.
Solution: Be strategic in your inventory allocation. Make sure to provide real-time occupancy data. Be aware of which channels are most valuable for you. The advanced channel management systems today oversee hotel inventory in real time with 2-way integration. Meaning that rooms can be moved to booking platforms which deliver the best return.
5. Ignoring your own website
The other side of the coin is another common channel management mistake - not focusing enough on your own website. As demand increases, hoteliers should have the capability to automatically adjust the availability of their rooms. This would ensure that the last rooms they have to sell are through the more profitable website.
Solution: It isn’t enough to build the website and expect potential guests to find the online platform and make direct bookings. Hoteliers must also ensure that they market their website properly through relevant sales and marketing channels.
To sum up...
Based on what you have read, we can come up with the final idea, that integrated Channel Manager is A MUST to any size accommodation provider. Without it, business growth and development is inconceivable. Hotel management should not become a nightmare neither for you or for your colleagues. Time, that you spend updating channels manually, can be invested in creating new ideas for your guests. Your colleagues can also focus on better communication with guests, because they don’t need to spend half of their day staring at the computer screen. Maximise time and cost efficiency in managing your room allocation and increase bookings.