The Difference Between a PMS and a Channel Manager

If you’re running a hotel, then you’ll be familiar with property management systems (PMS) and channel managers. But, what’s the difference between PMS and channel manager? Should we consider it to be channel manager vs. PMS, or are do they work together? And which one do you need for your hotel? In this blog post, we will discuss the differences, and help you decide which one is best for your business.

What is a channel manager?

A hotel channel manager is a software that connects a hotel’s booking system with online travel agencies (OTAs) through their API integration safely, securely and in real-time. This allows hoteliers to manage their inventory and rates across all OTAs from one platform. A channel manager can be thought of more as a marketing tool, rather than one that would help with day to day operations, as its primarily purpose is distribution.

Channel managers save hoteliers a lot of time and energy by automating the process of updating rates and availability on multiple OTAs. This way, hoteliers can focus on other aspects of their business.

Common features of a channel manager:

  • Manage all of your OTA listings – this includes sites like Airbnb, Expedia and Agoda. Aspects, such as pricing, can be updated and pushed across all your OTAs. This saves you having to go into each individual website to update your listings. This enables you to establish a strong multi-channel distribution strategy without adding to your admin hours.
  • Minimise errors – No matter how efficient your staff are, manually entering data across multiple platforms leaves room for error. You can ensure all your OTA listings are up to date and accurate by using a channel manager.
  • Real-time updates – Whenever a booking is made on one of your OTA listings, the channel manager will automatically update all other channels with the new inventory details. This reduces the risk of overbooking and provides a seamless experience for guests.
  • Detailed reporting – Channel managers provide valuable reports and insights into your bookings, revenue and occupancy rates across all OTAs. This helps you make better strategic decisions for your business.
  • Centralised control – A channel manager allows you to manage all of your OTA listings from one central platform. This saves time and ensures consistency across all channels.
  • Real-time syncing – It’s easy to manage your booking calendar and sync your availability in real-time across your OTAs. This removes the risk of double booking and pricing errors.

Discover the key strategies behind effective revenue management, including the role of a dynamic channel manager.

What is multi-channel distribution strategy?

Multi-channel distribution is a marketing strategy that involves listing your property on multiple booking platforms. For example, you can list your property on Expedia and from there, you can advertise on on Hotels.com, Travelcity and Trivago. This is because many of the popular OTAs are part of a group, and therefore, you benefit from being exposed to their leading online travel brands. You can also select OTAs individually to list on as you please.

Listing and advertising on multiple OTAs gains you more exposure and makes it easier for guests to find your property. It also allows you to reach a wider audience, which can lead to more bookings. Using a channel manager, you can connect your booking system with multiple OTAs so you can manage inventory and rates across all OTAs from one platform. This saves you a lot of time and energy by automating the process of updating rates and availability.

What is a property management system?

PMS is a software that helps hotels manage all aspects of their property, from reservations and guest profiles to housekeeping and accounting. PMS systems are designed to make hotel operations more efficient and improve the guest experience.

While channel managers focus on distribution, PMS systems are more about helping hotels with their day-to-day operations. With a PMS system, hoteliers can track reservations, guest profiles, and payments. They can also manage housekeeping, inventory, and staff schedules.

Youtube Video: Navigating the PMS Dashboard in Preno – A Beginner’s Guide

Common features of a PMS:

  • A booking engine that allows you to gain more direct bookings and take payments directly from your website.
  • Send and receive messages through your personal PMS inbox to guests, without any restrictions imposed by OTAs.
  • Track, manage and update housekeeping requirements and status in real-time, providing staff with instant updates, so you’re all in sync.
  • Real-time comprehensive reporting that showcases an overview of your business performance and providing key hotel metrics.
  • Accounting and invoicing capabilities in order to simplify reconciling, and end of year reporting.
  • Easy to use bookings calendar that enables you to predict future occupancy and adjust your pricing strategy accordingly.
  • Detailed analytics to help you analyse and improve your listings performance.
  • Comprehensive support and guidance in order to increase revenue and occupancy.
  • Integration friendly, which allows hoteliers to benefit from a wider range of technology beyond the PMSs capabilities.

What is the difference between a channel manager and a PMS?

The main difference between a channel manager and a PMS is that channel managers focus on distribution while PMS systems help hotels manage their day-to-day operations. With a channel manager, hoteliers can connect their booking system with online travel agencies so they can manage inventory and rates across all OTAs from one platform. This saves hoteliers a lot of time and energy by automating the process of updating rates and availability.

With a PMS system, hoteliers can track reservations, guest profiles, and payments. They can also manage housekeeping, inventory, and staff schedules. Which one you need for your hotel depends on your business needs. If you are primarily concerned with marketing and distribution, then a channel manager is a good choice. If you are more concerned with day-to-day operations, then a PMS system is a better choice. If you’re a well established hotel business, you might consider using both as they can work together to help streamline your business operations.

When discussing the difference between a Property Management System (PMS) and a Channel Manager, there are several key points to consider:

  1. Functionality: A Property Management System (PMS) is designed to streamline the operational aspects of managing a property, such as reservations, guest check-ins, housekeeping, billing, and reporting. On the other hand, a Channel Manager focuses on managing distribution channels, including online travel agencies (OTAs), booking engines, and other platforms where properties are listed for bookings.
  2. Integration: A PMS may have functionalities that overlap with a Channel Manager, but they can work together seamlessly to synchronise room availability, rates, and reservations across various distribution channels. Highlight the importance of integration in minimising overbookings and ensuring consistent information across all channels.
  3. Automation: A PMS automates internal processes, such as guest communications, invoicing, and room assignments, to improve operational efficiency. Meanwhile, a Channel Manager automates the distribution of inventory and rates to different booking platforms, reducing the need for manual updates and minimising the risk of errors.
  4. Revenue Management: A PMS supports revenue optimization through features like pricing strategies, reporting and analytics, and guest relationship management. In contrast, a Channel Manager plays a crucial role in maximising revenue by effectively managing rates and availability across multiple distribution channels, helping properties reach a wider audience and capitalise on market demand.
  5. User Interface and Accessibility: A PMS is tailored to the needs of hotel staff and management, focusing on operational workflows and day-to-day tasks. In comparison, a Channel Manager typically provides a user-friendly dashboard for property owners and managers to oversee their distribution strategies and performance across various online channels.
  6. Scalability and Flexibility: A robust PMS can accommodate the needs of properties of varying sizes and types, while a Channel Manager enables properties to expand their online presence and manage multiple distribution channels efficiently, regardless of their scale.

Channel Manager vs PMS : which one do you need for your hotel?

Which one you need for your hotel depends on your business needs. If you are primarily concerned with marketing and distribution, then a channel manager is a good choice. This option is popular with short term rentals, or those who own a small property and want to minimise admin. If you are more concerned with day-to-day operations and own a larger property with multiple rooms, then a PMS is a better choice.

If you want to cover all your bases, it’s important to note that some of the more advanced property management systems offer an in-built channel manager, as well as all the aforementioned elements. Signing up for a PMS is a great option for those who have one or two rooms available, but aim to grow this number in future. This is because it leaves room for important growth. Many PMS companies will cater plans and adjust fees depending on your needs, which you can revisit and upgrade along your hotelier journey.

Enjoyed exploring the concept of channel managers? There’s more to discover! Explore our other articles on this subject to gain additional insights and practical advice:

About the author

Preno's Marketing Campaigns Manager, Scott Martin, is a Kiwi marketer with experience in the hospitality sector in NZ & AUS. His industry knowledge is put to good use here at Preno, working alongside hoteliers to showcase ways technology can make their lives easier. He is also a passionate videographer, with a slight sausage dog obsession.

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