NB: This is an article by Saurabh Vashisht of RateGain
Managing all room & rate combinations across multiple platforms is a task that generally falls in the lap of a Revenue Manager (RM). When a hotel has its RM updating room-rate combination on its distribution platform manually then they are wasting the time, which RM should have spent in strategizing. Most hotels today realize that and make use of technology and that’s where the channel manager comes into the picture. While a channel manager seems like a dream product managing entire distribution in a click, it is essential for RM to know how to pick the most suited.
- Ability to Increase Distribution Reach – A channel manager should have a long list of channels it can support to cater to the hotel’s source market. It should help hotel reach out and distribute effectively in key source markets.
- OTA Contract Facilitation – While a channel manager may be supporting channels in the source market of a hotel but if the hotel has no connect with that OTA then the support is futile. A channel manager can and must act as a liaison in such a case between OTA and hotel for contracting purposes. This will help the hotel in increasing their reach and thereby creating a demand from a channel which was not existing for them earlier.
- Effective Room Inventory Management – With multiple channels comes a challenge of managing individual inventory allocation. A channel manager which can support a pooled inventory across channels can reduce this pressure as well as increase hotel’s productivity from all channels by maintaining availability parity.
- Not just channels but also room/rate types – It is not only important that hotels can sell on multiple channels but also how many room/rate type combinations they can effectively manage. A channel manager should be able to support various room/rate combinations on multiple channels.
- One-click update – While it is a common practice for hotels to have manifold room/rate combinations, and those numbers increase many a times with addition of every channel. Thus, a channel manager should give a facility of connecting these room/rate combinations (which generally is the case in hotels) to have a single update on base room/rate combination and rest can get updated automatically.
- Ease of connectivity – While its good to support numerous channels but if a hotel finds it difficult to add a new channel then this ability is futile. Thus, a good channel manager should have a method of aiding hotels in increasing their distribution channel.
- Connectivity with OTA as well as PMS – A channel manager needs to be capable to send Availability, Rates & Inventory update to OTAs as well as deliver reservations back to PMS.
- Revenue Management Capabilities – Does your channel manager support yielding techniques, such as LOS guidelines, Stop/Start sell, etc.
- Other Capabilities – A channel manager should support various other features, which may include but not restricted to complex restrictions like Minimum stay through, or Rate inclusions – meal, extra bed, child rate, etc.
- Demand Generation – A channel manager should be supporting these features as well as it should be smart enough to have rules which can trigger necessary updates, like a promotion when occupancy falls below a level, to OTAs and thus aid hotel in demand generation.
- Promotion Management – All OTAs encourage hotels to create promotions to generate demand for themselves, and while it can be a tedious task to create promotions from OTA extranets and then keeping a track of them, a channel manager which can support promotion creation from the tool to extranet is ideal. This will save a lot of effort as well as keep all promotions within a single tool for ease of management and tracking.
- Period of Time – How far can a channel manager send the updates out is also an important factor. The more dates you manage, the more data needs to be sent out simultaneously. At the same time what is important is how long does it take to successfully update for far out dates in future.
- Customization as Per Channel – OTAs don’t work in same fashion; some offer rates inclusive of tax while others will have rates with tax separate. Thus, their extranets tend to accept rates too in a similar fashion. A channel manager should be able to take care of this aspect. It should allow hotel user to enter rates in one format and be smart enough to do relevant calculations and thus pass it to the appropriate extranet.
- Multiple User, Multiple Properties – Be it a single standalone hotel or a chain of hotels, channel manager should be able to support multiple users for a single property as well as multiple properties for a single user. Whatever may be the case, channel manager should have this provision to manage these users as per their applicable rights in the tool.
- Productivity Analytics – When a hotel is managing its entire OTA landscape using the channel manager then it is a mandatory requirement for the channel manager to provide productivity of these OTAs to hotel and thus assisting in hotel’s revenue management strategy.
- Access on the go – Needless to express the importance of providing information on the move. A channel manager which can provide information, update as well as decision-making capability on the move is a must in today’s time.
- Training – Use of system will be preceded by a training. Thus, hotel needs a vendor who can provide regular & repetitive trainings as well as a tool with its support help guide.
- Support – A hotel needs a channel manager from a vendor which can provide a regular global support.
Quickly and efficiently managing room rates, availability and restrictions across all connected internet distribution sites is a requirement nowadays, and presently when a RM is required to multitask then automating the distribution is very significant. It is extremely critical hence to choose a relevant and most suitable tool as effective distribution has a direct impact on profitability.