Why is hotel channel manager comparison important?
A hotel channel manager comparison is crucial to ensure that you are investing in the best piece of software for your business. After all, it will form the backbone of your hotel distribution, and failing to find the best fit for both now and the future could end up doing more harm than good.
One of the most important pieces of technology for your hotel is a channel manager so it’s vital you get the best value for money.
The benefits of a quality channel manager are multi-faceted. First and foremost it will help you simultaneously distribute your rooms across online travel agents, travel agents, tourist centres, and anyone else who books rooms on behalf of guests.
It will also ensure everyone has access to your live availability and rates, updating your inventory in real-time.
However, not all channel managers are created equal meaning you won’t always see a satisfactory return on investment for your property.
To give guests a great experience and also run a profitable business, you need to research channel managers and make sure you’re choosing the right product.
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What is the difference between a switch and a channel manager?
While a switch is focused on the seamless transmission of data, a channel manager is centred on optimising and managing that data across various online platforms. Both switches and channel managers play pivotal roles, but they serve distinct functions.
A switch, often referred to as a distribution switch or a central reservation system (CRS) switch, acts as a conduit, facilitating the transfer of data between a hotel’s property management system (PMS) and various distribution channels. It’s the technological backbone that ensures inventory, rates, and other essential data are accurately relayed between systems.
On the other hand, a channel manager is a more comprehensive tool designed to manage and synchronise a hotel’s inventory across multiple online distribution channels, such as online travel agencies (OTAs), global distribution systems (GDS), and direct booking platforms. Its primary function is to ensure real-time updates across these channels, preventing overbookings and rate discrepancies.
Channel manager comparison: 5 key features to look out for
Not all channel managers have the same capabilities and fit for your unique business. When investing in such an integral tool, it’s important to ensure that your choice has a few foundational features.
Here’s what you should look out for when you compare channel managers to make sure you select the best provider for your hotel.
1. Do they offer two-way channel connections?
Two-way XML (allowing data to be stored and transmitted) connections are vital to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date on both the hotel’s backend and the connected channel.
It’s also important the channel manager has a broad distribution range, so you have access to the hundreds of booking channels that exist, including those for niche markets.
2. Do they use a pooled inventory model?
Pooled inventory is arguably the most important feature a channel manager should come equipped with.
Using this method of distribution means you can always display your maximum number of available rooms on all your channels, without the risk of double bookings thanks to real-time updates from a channel manager.
Any system that connects your hotel to booking channels without pooled inventory should be avoided.
3. Do they enable integration with your current systems?
Obviously you’re likely to use many different pieces of technology at your hotel including, but not limited to; property management systems (PMS), central reservation systems (CRS), and revenue management systems (RMS).
Ideally, the channel manager you choose will have the capability to fit seamlessly with the systems you already use.
If investing in a channel manager requires you to replace or update all your systems, the product probably isn’t worth it.
4. Do they deliver comprehensive reporting?
Any strategies you implement and any success you have at your hotel must be supported by an ability to measure results, otherwise you won’t know what adjustments to make, or when to make them.
When comparing channel managers, always choose the one which gives you detailed data on channel yield, reservation earnings, booking volume, and average lead time as a minimum requirement. This way, you can make informed decisions for your distribution strategy.
5. Do they have a flexible payment model?
No one likes to be locked into a contract, and for good reason. Nothing could be worse for your hotel than paying for a system that isn’t delivering the results you want, with no escape!
Prioritise a platform that offers a free trial period of at least two weeks, followed by a payment model that is based on a flat monthly fee and no lock-in contracts.
Hotel channel manager comparison chart
The hotel industry has many channel managers vying for attention, each promising to be the game-changer for hoteliers. We’ve distilled the offerings of five major players into a straightforward comparison, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
|1. SiteMinder||Reliable connection with over 450 booking channels, trusted by 39,000 properties worldwide||Powerful software with advanced features that aren’t necessarily suitable for hotels with smaller requirements.|
|2. Little Hotelier||User-friendly interface for easier channel mapping, especially for small accommodation providers||Designed specifically for small hotels, so larger hotels may outgrow it.|
|3. TravelClick||Clean, basic channel manager that is suitable for starter hotels that want solid market intelligence capability.||Steep learning curve for new users.|
|4. Cloudbeds||Good integration with a range of property management systems, allowing fluid integration with established channels.||Complaints around bugs, glitches, and lacking core features (such as a mobile channel management app)|
|5. ResNexus||Gets teams up to speed quickly through solid demos and training for new users.||Some important features require additional payments.|