Choosing the Best Channel Manager for Vacation Rentals

Choosing the Best Channel Manager for Vacation Rentals

How can you choose the best channel manager for your vacation rental business? How do you know which option is right for your business?

By using an online vacation rental channel manager, property managers, and hosts can simplify their lives. A channel manager can help manage listings across multiple platforms and synchronize your calendars and bookable dates.

Let's have a look at the benefits of a channel manager and find out how it works and how it can simplify your management process.

What Is A Channel Manager?

A l channel manager for the vacation rental industry is a piece of specialized software that allows you to automatically distribute property listings across multiple booking channels. In short, a channel manager is a tool for managing your vacation rentals that are listed across multiple OTAs. Updates are made in real-time, using API connections, and are managed from a centralized dashboard so you can do everything from a single interface. It allows you to update your rates, availability, calendars, and listings across all the channels you advertise on in real-time.

Why Do You Need A Channel Manager?

If you have more than one property, or several room types, then you should really look into investing in a channel manager. A Channel Manager is a MUST if you have five to ten properties or more. Why? Because it will help you send and synchronize your availability and rates in real-time to more Online Travel Agencies than you could do it manually.

Targeted at increasing the number of direct bookings, being listed on several OTA websites is not only an integral part of your distribution strategy; it should also be an essential element of your marketing plan.

The interface of each OTA channel may allow you to manually update availability, rates, and inventory, but this is inefficient and may lead to errors. A channel manager can help you save time, find more bookings, and distribute property inventory effectively.

Who Would Benefit From Using A Channel Manager?

1. Single Handed Hosts

If you are running your business as a one-man show, a channel manager is the best alternative. If you manage your rental on multiple OTAs a channel manager can be your best friend. (Literally!) You can save plenty of time and can use it to focus on growing your business.

2. Property managers

The fact that property managers are responsible for more than one property means they must pay attention to each one with the same integrity and passion. Otherwise, it could lead to double bookings and a loss of profits.

3. Vacation rental property management companies

Property management companies handle vacation rental properties of all types. Plus, they are often listed on different OTAs and channels. A channel manager ensures consistency in availability and rates.

Choosing a channel manager is a wise decision for hosts and property managers alike. As a property manager or host, with a channel manager in place, you can devote more time towards improving guest experience rather than worrying about property availability, channel management and pricing. Focus your energy on growing your business and let the system take care of the hard work.

What Are The Top Reasons To Use A Channel Manager?

Gaining a larger audience

Channel Managers help you reach a wider audience of travelers. You need a limited amount of time and resources to push your inventory to a new booking site because it's relatively easy to connect. The property manager can now access new, global markets and segments through the management of channels that were previously hard to reach manually. Multiple booking channels mean increased visibility – and subsequently, more bookings. In times of low demand, this leads to higher occupancy rates.

A Higher Return on Investment

Your marketing and sales efforts are more likely to yield a higher return on your investment with Channel Managers, as they create new ways to sell existing inventory. With consolidated inventory, advanced rates with discounts or non-refundable rates, and upsell integrations, vacation rentals optimize revenue management with dynamic pricing strategies.

For example, you can sell a room under more than one category by using shared inventory. A good example of this would be selling a room as a hostel dorm room or as a private single room. The risk here is selling the same room twice. Sharing inventory through a Vacation rental Channel Manager ensures that linked rooms won't be sold twice.

As a bonus, Real-Time Updates improve performance on OTAs, which rank properties higher if they have real-time availability rates and inventory data. Properties that have accurate and updated content usually rank higher in search results, which leads to higher returns on investment.

Optimal Distribution

OTAs have their own cost and commission structures, so a profitable distribution strategy must consider which sales channels to use, how much inventory to allocate to each, and how to adjust channel mix to achieve your goals. By using a mix of OTAs, meta-search websites, or niche accommodation booking sites, you make sure your property is visible to the right type of guest.

Time Saver

The interface of each channel takes some time to get used to. Logging into each channel's online interface and updating ARI several times a day is a full-time job without any tools. The time cost of managing distribution manually correlates closely with the cost of having someone on staff do so.

Using Channel Manager Software makes pursuing profitable distribution much easier. Hosts and property managers can monitor and control distribution costs more effectively with a single dashboard.

How To Choose The Best Channel Manager For Your Vacation Rental?

Regardless of how it is asked, the answer is the same: It all depends on your requirements.

Here are some of the main things to consider when choosing a channel manager:

1. The size of your property

If you are a fairly big vacation rental and getting a lot of bookings every day, a Channel Manager is a necessity. It can help you to streamline and automate most of the tasks that consume a lot of time.

2. Syncing with other applications you use for your property

What gets synced and what doesn't?

Not all Channel Managers can connect to your existing Booking Engine or Property Management System. Find out if the channel manager is compatible with the other software applications you use for your business. Things you should query are:

  • Since there are different types of channel integrations. Check if the calendar sync feature is available through iCal, 1-way or 2-way?
  • Understanding the differences between Ical, 1-way, and 2-way connections is an important point, and here’s why:

    1. Ical - is commonly used to connect the calendar of your PMS with a calendar of an OTA. icals are limited to only share availability data; they cannot update rates or any other type of data.
    2. 1-way - the PMS data such as rates and availability are being shared with the OTA but the OTA isn’t sharing data in return, such as reservation data.
    3. 2-way - a connection where both systems communicate with one another. This means that the channel manager is sending rates, availability, and more to the OTA and is receiving reservation and guest data in return.
  • Do they offer API integrations? For example, with Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, and any other channels you want to list your properties on?
  • What are the connection limits? Can the software connection extend to cancellation policies, amenities, listing descriptions, photos, etc? The more that is mapped and connected via API the less manual work you’ll need to do.

3. Your other business requirements

  • Would you like 24/7 assistance?
  • Does instant updating and reliability matter to you?
  • Do you need to automate other tasks?

Most vacation rental software companies also provide a collection of other features, including automated guest messaging, task automation, payment processing, invoicing, reporting and data analytics, to name a few. Conduct research on what other integrations they offer. Look at this as an investment to grow your business in the long term.

4. Value for money

Keep in mind cheapest is not always the best. You can be getting a good deal (money-wise) but it may not be meeting the job requirement entirely. There are certainly some Channel Managers that are more reliable or more functional than others - but they might also cost more. Evaluate your business needs and make a wise decision.

5. Company credibility and reviews

Spend some time evaluating different companies. For instance, how long has the particular company been in the field of business? Is their background tech-savvy? Do they have a solid understanding of providing smooth operations and unstilted service? Whenever you evaluate a product or service, you should check customer reviews. There is a lot to learn about the product, service, support and you can determine which company to go ahead with by shortlisting a few top-rated companies and requesting a demo session. This would also enable you to find out how easy it is to operate the system, does it support mobile devices, connectivity, compatibility, and so on.

Some sites to read good product reviews in the software industry are Capterra, Trust Pilot, and G2. Go check them out!

In summary, make sure the “finalist” Channel Manager you choose will meet your business needs now and also support your future endeavors. Look for a reliable company you can work with that is truly invested in your success and a partnership that will aid in it.

How Can Hostaway Help?

Reach out to the Hostaway team to learn more about their channel management and property management systems. Hostaway provides integrated connections to all major OTAs, as well as automation tools that support property managers. While a channel manager is a great tool to maintain consistency for your listings, an all-in-one short-term rental software like Hostaway can help amplify the growth of your business. Hostaway offers a variety of advanced features you can use to streamline your routine tasks in addition to keeping your listings in sync. Schedule a demo call at your preferred time with one of our product experts to receive actionable advice and discover how Hostaway can fit your property management business and unlock growth potentials for you.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?