There was a time when all you had to attract guests was to provide a stellar customer service and expect the word-of-mouth to travel far and wide. Times have changed and so have your guests.
Today, as a hotelier, you are expected to deliver more than a stellar service. Word-of-mouth is still important, but you are expected to do more to attract guests. This includes intuitively understanding your guests’ needs and being there for them proactively, even before they book.
So, how do you reach your prospective customers and get their attention before your competitors do? How can you get yourself out there in front of customers who are busy planning their next vacation and stay?
A hotel channel manager, or more precisely, a channel manager software, is the solution.
What is a Hotel Channel Manager?
As a hotelier, you need to be prepared for your prospective guests to book your accommodation through any channel. They may use a travel agent to book their rooms, or get in touch with you directly to book a room. Many others may prefer using an OTA to make their bookings. That’s why you need to create a strong channel management strategy.
A channel manager is essentially a software that streamlines customer data, inventory (number of vacant rooms), and accommodation rates, in real-time.
A hotel channel manager works by syncing all key information, including rooms available and their prices, across all OTAs. This means, regardless of the channel your prospects use, you will “show up” in all their accommodation options. By unifying your booking data, a channel manager offers an easy way to keep your hotel information up to date so that you can showcase your property in more places online and attract more guests.
Hotel owners and managers can connect their existing booking system with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb. If, for instance, your customer books a room with you through an OTA, such as Booking.com, then a channel manager updates this information on your hotel’s booking management system. Simultaneously, it will also reflect those updates across other distribution channels you may be connected to, such as Expedia or Airbnb.
Why Hotel Channel Managers are a Key Sales Asset for Hoteliers?
A hotel channel manager maximises your potential for selling a room to prospects by “showing up” across any sales channel your customers may be using, to book rooms.
Without a channel manager, it makes it more difficult to manage many OTA listings to showcase your accommodation on more than one channel, which means losing valuable sales opportunities. This is because you or your staff will have to manually update each platform with the booking details to ensure you don’t double book rooms. This can be very timely, and therefore, costly to your business.
Increase your prospect-customer conversions
A hotel channel manager provides real-time booking information not on one, but across multiple sales channels. Customers viewing your accommodation options will be able to view all pertinent booking information. This includes room rates, vacancies and availability, which become available to customers in real-time when and where they need it.
It is possible for hoteliers to update information in real-time so that only accurate information reaches prospective customers. This ability to provide real-time accommodation insights gives customers clarity about their choices. They are able to make the right decision at the right time.
For example, customers may be able to avail a special discount you are offering on your rooms. Or, they may be able to switch to a suite that was, until that moment, unavailable.
Giving this clarity to your prospects can be critical in converting them into your guests. And, it is part of a stellar customer service that can become your unique selling proposition (USP).
Eliminate the risk of double bookings and under-booking
When you are using multiple distribution channels to feed guests to your hotel, there is the risk of double-booking.
This is because the same inventory is shown across multiple platforms and booking updates may not reflect on all channels. This results in two, and sometimes even more, customers booking the same room. When this happens, it is obviously a PR nightmare for your business.
With a hotel channel manager in place, any changes in inventory are updated across all connected channels in real-time. So, customers view information about only rooms that are vacant and available.
Sometimes, you may split your inventory across distribution channels to prevent overbooking. While this may prevent multiple reservations for the same room, it can also lead to rooms remaining unoccupied.
This happens because a specific distribution channel such as Expedia may have sold all your rooms on its list. So, when customers using this platform search for rooms, they are given a “rooms unavailable” message, but there may still be rooms listed on other channels, and customers may not be using these channels. As a result, these vacant rooms stay vacant.
Implementing a channel manager prevents avoidable and expensive errors. The software updates booking information in real-time across all channels you are connected to, and this prevents the need for inventory-splitting across channels.
Increase your occupancy and reach
With more and more people opting for online bookings, it is imperative to build your brand online. A channel manager enables you to increase your online bookings by connecting you with customers, not on one but multiple OTAs. Achieving this leverage would not be possible by employing traditional methods of booking alone.
Improve your direct bookings
Your customers may find you through a direct search engine search or through an OTA, or other channel. Even when they discover you through an OTA, they are more likely to visit your website or social media pages to know more about you. When what they see interests them, they are more likely to then, book a stay through your website itself. This results in a direct sale even though the source of discovery was an OTA or other distribution channel, saving you money as you won’t have to pay the OTA commission costs.
Discover more channels to complement your traditional booking channels
Direct bookings and taking reservations from customers on phone have always been a part of the hotel business. They are classic booking methods and will continue to be an effective way of gaining more booking for your hotel. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to depend entirely on these classic methods alone to increase your occupancy.
A hotel channel manager introduces you to multiple efficient distribution channels for showcasing your inventory. With this software, you’re able to sign up for as many OTAs as you please and manage these bookings all from within the channel manager – without increasing your admin hours. By automating this process, you can rest assured that your hotel will be seen by as many customers as possible.
You will also have the peace of mind knowing that you will not have to rely on direct walk-in bookings and phone bookings alone anymore to see your rooms full.
Generate greater brand awareness
With a hotel channel manager, you will increase your presence online, which is a crucial sales and marketing avenue. A strong online presence is key to generating brand awareness and reaching your customers faster.
With your brand being showcased on multiple distribution channels, you will be seen by audiences that you may not be able to reach using conventional marketing methods.
With a channel manager, your brand tends to become more attractive to OTAs, and they’ll happily accept your listing. This is because your inventory and pricing information is always accurate.
Reliable insights are the key to keeping OTA customers well-informed and happy. When customers are happy, OTAs are happy, which translates into better relations and listings on OTAs for you.
Improve the efficiency of you booking process
Checking bookings, making reservations, and updating booking information, can be time-consuming and erroneous when performed manually. An inefficient process can create hiccups and lead to errors, confusion, reputation damage and business downtime.
Make it easier for your staff to stay up-to-date with crucial booking information
A reliable channel manager software can save you process and revenue troubles by keeping all your admin members on the same page.
For example, if you have to revise room rates for an important tourist day event, or pre-book a room for an important guest, then you can have such information marked on the software. Even if the primary user of the software is absent, other staff members can easily make the updates.
Ensuring your staff are up to date with your hotel pricing strategy means no revenue opportunities lost and no customers offended – key elements of growth and success in hotel business.
Make your admin team efficient with Preno’s easy-to-use channel manager. Its comprehensive features for allow you to manage your OTAs listings through their built-in channel manager, while reducing the hours you and your team spend on admin.
Improve your business revenue
A hotel channel manager relays real-time information about rooms available in your hotel, along with their rates, across all the distribution channels on which you are active. This results in faster exposure to customers and an increase in bookings.
As we mentioned before, with a channel manager, you are able to prevent under-booking, which provides a big push to your sales. A channel manager software also decreases the risk of overbooking, which saves you damage-control expenses and embarrassment.
Another crucial way in which channel managers enable you to maximise your profits is by facilitating data analysis. You can analyse the data fed by your channel manager to identify factors affecting your bookings, such as a high room rate.
A channel manager also gives you insights into distribution channels. This enables you to see which are getting you the best returns. You can also identify channels that are booking you the most customers. If any channel seems to be under-performing, you can always switch to a better-performing channel.
Gains you back important admin hours
As a hotel manager or owner, your key responsibility is to offer excellent hospitality to your guests and invest time and efforts in growing your business. Focusing on bookings and looking for ways to connect with your prospects across channels can side-track you.
With a hotel channel manager, you get the assurance that your business will be where your customers are, and that you have maximised your chances of conversions. You can therefore redirect your focus, time and efforts to the core tasks of your business.
Your business revenue, success and growth are only as enduring as the marketing and sales tools you employ. A hotel channel manager is a powerful tool that will only grow in demand in hospitality. As a hotelier, you can position yourself for future success by integrating this efficient and reliable tool into your business process.