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Channel management software

The best way to sell your hotel rooms online

If you’re reading this page it’s likely you’ve come to the conclusion that selling your rooms online is too hard and less profitable without a technology solution. Either that or you’ve realised NOT selling your rooms online is business suicide and channel management software is the best way to do it.

Both epiphanies are correct. Hotel channel management is planning and managing the online distribution of hotel room availability and room rates on distribution channels like online travel agents (OTAs). When you start using channel management software to broaden your sales net via more OTAs, your bookings and revenue will both increase and you’ll have more opportunities to boost your overall profit.

Although, as the travel industry continues to grow so does the travel technology sector and the pool of channel management software providers swells along with it. It’s not always easy to make a purchase decision you can feel at ease with.

On this page we’ll give you all the necessary information and advice you need to find the best solution for your property.

Why channel management software?

Channel management software is the only way to effectively reach and convert guests from all over the world without risking overbookings.

To avoid overbookings, a hotel’s inventory needs to be continually updated across all of the distribution channels they may use, including direct online bookings, travel wholesalers, and OTAs

Hotel channel management can often be time-consuming and tedious, especially when manually managed across multiple OTAs and an internal PMS. Time lag and human error may result in double bookings or incorrect rate parity across third-party booking sites.

Manually managing a number of booking channels is a full-time job. Hotels can automate the majority of this type of data entry and focus on delighting their guests with a great travel experience.

What is the best channel management software?

pms-channel-manager-integration

There’s a strong case to say SiteMinder is the very best channel management software on the market. With an industry leading number of connections and integrations, hoteliers are afforded all the power and freedom they need to make meaningful, positive change within their business.

All leading channel management software operates on a pooled inventory model, allowing you to sell all your rooms on multiple online channels simultaneously – saving you hours of time and delivering more revenue.

The real differentiating factors come into play when you start talking about the ecosystem each provider is in charge of. Ideally you want a solution that’s as robust as possible, offering a large number of connections and integrations.

Connections are vital so you can put your hotel on as many OTAs as you want and target even the smallest niche markets that are most suited to your property. The more channels you operate, the more eyes you’ll have on your property.

Integration is important so that your existing tools, such as your property management system and online booking engine, can communicate and share data smoothly with the channel manager.

SiteMinder is a heavyweight player in this regard, boasting more than 250 technology partnerships with the world’s best PMSs, CRSs, RMSs, and payment providers. Along with this, more than 400 OTA connections are available via the world’s top distribution companies such as Booking.com, Expedia, and Tripadvisor.

The best channel management software will be able to move the needle immediately on your property’s occupancy, revenue, and productivity metrics. The options you’re considering should be able to promise and display an increase in your hotel’s profit.

SiteMinder’s advanced technology stack comes from being present in the space for more than 12 years, pioneering much of the hotel technology that exists today. It’s this history and continued thirst for progress that makes it the best and safest channel management software for hoteliers big and small.

Hotel channel management software: Using it for free

While there are no shortcuts when it comes to using the best hotel channel management software (at some stage you will have to pay for the results it delivers), there are ways for you to be more sure about investing in it.

Free trial periods are offered by leading providers to afford your hotel the opportunity to test the product and see all the benefits in action without committing to a payment. This creates a risk-free way to optimise your property’s connections and distribution strategy. You don’t sign a contract or pay any fee, but the increased bookings and revenue are yours to keep.

SiteMinder offers a 14-day free trial to get you started on attracting and acquiring more guests, during which time you will have full functionality of the product.

Click here to sign up for a free trial of SiteMinder’s channel manager.

Purchasing software for channel management: Cost, setup, and training

If you complete a free trial for channel management software and are happy with the results, you would then become a billed user to continue using the product.

Good providers will operate on a model that only charges a flat monthly fee. This means you pay the same rate no matter how many bookings you get. Ultimately, this is much better than paying a fee per transaction – since the more successful you become the more you would pay. SiteMinder aims to help hoteliers succeed, and we don’t think you should have to sacrifice more than is necessary.

The monthly fee will be preceded by a small setup expense but other than that your ongoing rate will depend on the size of your property. A hotel of 10 rooms would be charged just over $51USD/month. A property with 50 rooms would pay $116USD/month.

Use SiteMinder’s pricing scale here to see how your property fits in.

Once you track the occupancy increase, and by association your revenue and profit increases, the cost of a channel manager is more than covered. Even a minimum occupancy increase will pay you back and then some.

The good news about setup and training is that will all be covered in the free trial phase. Dedicated onboarding staff will assist you from the very beginning, helping to confirm your property details, room types, rates, connect your channels, and map your rooms to them. Through the 14 days of the free trial you will have access to personal training over the phone or via video chat and other training resources such as video tutorials.

Support staff will also be ready and waiting to help with any issues you have once you become a paying customer.

Comparing hotel channel management companies

We don’t seek to pretend SiteMinder is the only viable option for your property’s use of channel management software.

There are plenty of powerful channel managers on the market – so many that you might get overwhelmed by too much choice. We believe SiteMinder is the biggest and best but a quick Google search will provide you with top 10 lists so you can quickly assess what are widely regarded as the highest quality options for hoteliers.

However, the best way to get a comprehensive overview of the most popular products is to use a comparison site.

A resource such as Hotel Tech Report is one of the most in-depth resources to look at.

Read why hoteliers ranked SiteMinder’s channel manager #1 on Hotel Tech Report.

Here you can find ratings and reviews on a product’s ease of use, functionality, ROI, customer support, implementation, integration, and more. You can also access screenshots and videos where applicable.

Written customer reviews will also be available, so you can see in detail what current or previous users of a product are saying. It’s a great way to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of a provider from your peers – the source you can probably trust the most!

How to choose hotel online distribution channel management software

Your final decision on which channel management provider to choose rests on what your property needs, what you can afford, and how confident you can be that you are purchasing a long-term, results driven solution.

To help, make sure the option you’re considering covers these basic features at the very least:

  • Ensure it operates on a pooled inventory model
  • The more OTA and PMS connections the better (ideally the number should be in the hundreds)
  • Booking engine integration and two-way communication is vital
  • Confirm that it has advanced reporting functions
  • Pricing should be a flexible monthly fee – no lock in contracts!
  • Training and support has to be comprehensive
  • Long-term availability and planning should be achievable
  • Real-time, two-way integration to the the OTAs you are currently using (or want to sign up to)

You can even ask potential providers plenty of questions to get clarity around what they can offer your hotel. Consider these enquiries:

1. How many booking channels can you connect me to?

Obviously it’s essential that the channel manager can connect to the channels you currently use and beyond that it should have a large and diverse portfolio to help you attract bookings. SiteMinder connects to more than 400 booking channels.

2. Can you integrate with my website’s booking engine?

A strong online presence and revenue strategy needs an online booking engine. Integration between your booking engine and new channel manager is vital so you can manage your booking engine in the same manner as your other connected channels. Without the integration you’d still be managing your reservations separately – a time-consuming and annoying task.

3. Can you give me comprehensive performance reports?

Accurate and detailed reporting functions are the only way you track channel performance and make strategic changes to the way you sell your hotel rooms. Your channel manager should be able to tell which channels are producing the most reservations, most revenue on average, highest cancellation rates, and more.

4. How much will everything cost?

A plug and play model with a flat monthly fee is the best option, so you don’t have to pay for add-on features or pay for every transaction you take. Make sure to clarify with your potential provider how much your individual property will be charged as it differs from hotel to hotel.

5. How far in advance can you manage availability?

Given travellers often want to book accommodation well in advance, especially when travelling overseas, you’ll want the ability to accept reservations with quite a bit of lead time.

6. How much system training is available?

‘Sink or swim’ might be a great training method for puppies who have the instinctive ability to dog paddle but it’s not ideal when using a new technology system at your hotel. Ensure your provider is going to be attentive and supportive throughout your experience.

7. Is support offered in my timezone and language?

This is a no-brainer, and the reason why going with a leading, global, provider is the safest bet. They will have the available resources to service you wherever you are in the world.

Hotel channel management software demo and trial

SiteMinder’s channel manager simplifies inventory management across booking channels by:

  • Providing a single online dashboard with an overview of your online distribution channels
  • Minimize manual data entry with two-way integration with 400+ OTAs and PMS partners
  • Delivering pooled inventory across booking channels to increase your hotel’s bookings without the risk of overbookings

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