There comes a point where trying to scale your business without a system in place gets stressful, whether you're an Airbnb host or a manager of a vacation rental property. Fortunately, property management systems and channel manager software have solved issues like preventing multiple bookings and updating listings on OTAs (online travel agencies).
Unfortunately, it's not always obvious what the distinctions between them are to a beginner in the field. We have explained the differences between a channel manager and a PMS if you're unsure.
You can simultaneously list homes on several listing websites using a channel manager. Your calendar is coordinated by the program, which also avoids double reservations. When you use a property management system, all of your operations are centralized in one place, repetitive chores may be automated, and operations are coordinated with other specialized vacation rental software.
Connectivity to all of the top listing sites is provided through PMSs. When you wish to list on specialized websites, channel managers truly shine (i.e.; you offer a luxury home and want to advertise on luxury vacation rental websites). A PMS is a better option than a channel manager for most hosts and property managers. You'll be able to advertise on the websites that result in reservations while gaining access to automation features that a Channel Manager does not provide.
In reality, channel managers tout having functions that are comparable to PMSs. And PMSs do the same vs channel managers. The channel manager's ultimate goal is to increase your marketing distribution and reach. The PMS has basic marketing distribution features and is intended to consolidate, coordinate, and automate your operations.
In the rest of the article, let's delve deeper into some of the other aspects of both.
PMS stands for a Property Management System. It's a complete solution that streamlines and automates daily operations for short-term rental managers and Airbnb hosts.
PMS is sometimes referred to as PMP (short for Property Management Platform). The use of PMP serves just to emphasize that the software is the foundation for all other integrated apps and serves as a focal point for a team's work.
Since the early years of hotel administration, PMSs have existed. This kind of software is used by both large and small hotels to prevent double bookings, monitor online payments, plan cleaning and turnover duties, and automate communications. Their business has benefited greatly from using this kind of software because it has drastically reduced time-consuming front-desk activities like repeatedly composing the same email in response to visitor inquiries.
This technology has now been modified to meet the particular requirements of hosts and property managers in the vacation rental sector. For instance, PMSs frequently feature direct connections to booking platforms like Expedia, Booking.com, Vrbo, Airbnb, and others. They also integrate with third-party vendor apps, including cleaning, dynamic software, and others made specifically for operators of short-term rentals.
Have you lost the excitement you previously felt when a potential guest inquired about a booking or asked a question? It's simple to start resenting how much effort it takes to offer excellent guest communication and guide prospective guests through your check-in procedure when you're busy. Being overburdened with administrative duties makes it much worse to realize that you missed a client's communication or took too long to respond to them, costing you a potential booking.
With configurable template messages that answer direct questions, send booking reminders, directions, check-in, and check-out instructions, and payment requests, automatic messaging will ensure that you never miss another inquiry.
Using a single calendar, property management software syncs all of your reservations for all of your properties across all of the listing websites. This eliminates the time-consuming process of switching between various calendars on numerous websites. You'll be able to quickly and easily view all of that when you deploy management software. And you can stop wasting time logging into several sites to find the answers you need.
Even if you follow all the necessary steps, a rocky payment procedure can seriously hurt your bottom line. A property management system will make the process easier by providing features like direct booking payments collection, paying out vacation rental homeowners (if you're a property manager), charging for additional services, holding security deposits, and integrating with well-known payment processors with reputable payment gateways.
You may concentrate your time and attention to boost revenue and seal any leaking holes by knowing your numbers and identifying which properties are operating well and which ones require some maintenance. You may dive down on important indicators like occupancy rates per property, sales by agent, and much more using the reports and analytics capabilities. With this knowledge in hand, you may stop making costly mistakes and prevent unpleasant financial surprises.
Basic analytics and reporting are included in most property management platforms. The greatest PMSs enable you to design any kind of unique report. So you can also do it yourself if you're familiar with Excel or Google Sheets and want to learn how to crunch vacation rental numbers.
A good PMS will provide you with two options for obtaining direct bookings. The first is a ready-made direct booking site where visitors can make reservations. You can't really change the look and feel of the site. However, if you have a way to reach potential repeat guests, it's a cheap and effective way for them to rebook with you without having to pay extra fees.
The second option is a calendar widget, which a web developer can include in any custom site. It provides similar functionality to what guests are accustomed to seeing on major hotel websites (i.e. pick a date range and price, then book).
A channel manager is a supplemental tool that will assist you in diversifying your distribution strategy across multiple distribution channels such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. This specialized software allows you to distribute and update multiple listings in real-time from a single location.
The dozens of listing sites that promote holiday rentals can be reached via channel managers. Channel managers provide many more listing possibilities than PMSs do. They specialize in it.
Consider it in this way. PMSs devote a lot of time to creating automation tools and establishing connections with specialized vacation rental software. They establish connectivity to a listing site whenever they have free time or receive a request from their users to do so. Channel managers are the opposite. The majority of their budget goes toward developing integrations with as many listings sites as they can.
Keep in mind that all Channel Managers work with PMSs. The majority of property managers use a PMS to launch their firms. They add a Channel Manager to further diversify their distribution options once they have mastered pricing, had all of their cleaning teams coordinated and operating off the PMS, and established a steady pipeline of direct bookings.
With a channel manager, you can list your properties across multiple distribution channels and have them automatically updated. You'll also get a bird's-eye view of your availability thanks to a single calendar that syncs with multiple booking channels.
If you've ever accepted a double booking by mistake, you know the sinking feeling that comes with realizing you'll have to contact a booked guest and cancel their plans. Airbnb discourages hosts from canceling bookings and has a strict cancellation and penalty policy in place. A channel manager will provide you with a centralized calendar that will automatically update your calendar and listings across all of your booking channels, relieving you of the stress of overbooking and saving you from upset guests, negative reviews, and penalties.
With a channel manager, you'll be able to upload and easily modify all of your listings in real-time from one location. Your ability to market your properties through more distribution channels, which will boost their visibility and lead to more bookings, will increase thanks to this feature, which will save you an enormous amount of time.
While a property management system and a channel manager have separate functions, when used in tandem, they produce a powerful system that can help you save time and money while also providing the foundation for higher occupancy and revenue.
Once you've made the decision to use these systems, it's advised to pick a property management system with a built-in channel manager so you don't have to handle two different systems and can rely on the same customer service team for development, installation, and onboarding. Additionally, this decision will guarantee that both systems are created to function well together.
An integrated property management system and channel manager will make your life easier and your business more profitable. Once you've implemented these two systems, you'll be able to ditch your spreadsheets, stop managing multiple calendars, and easily increase your visibility across multiple distribution channels. It's time to advance!