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Channel manager: how to choose the right one?


Dear WuBookers,
by now you know what a channel manager is, and you also know that it can be really useful for speeding up business, avoiding mistakes and better managing online sales channels. But how to choose the right one? Sure, there are must-have parameters such as speed of update and accuracy, but then what? In this article, we have collected the 7 parameters to consider to better orient yourself and figure out which one is right for you.   

7 features to evaluate to make the right choice

Whether it is a hotel, a B&B or a vacation home, it is important that the channel manager responds perfectly to the needs of the accommodation. A quality that can be verified by going into the specifics of each program and comparing with the various connectivity providers, i.e., the companies that provide this type of service. 

However, in order to pre-select and compare multiple solutions quickly and easily, some preliminary aspects can be considered, such as: connection with OTAs and metasearch, integration with booking engines and PMS, compatibility with digital payment systems, connection to revenue management software, reporting, ease of use, support and service. 

1. Connection with OTAs and metasearch 

One of the main advantages of the channel manager is that it allows you to automatically update your sales platforms in real time, minimizing the risk of error and overbooking. It is therefore critical that the software you decide to use is compatible with the main online channels, i.e., OTAs and metasearch, or at least the ones of your choice. . 

In fact, unlike other existing solutions, such as the iCal format, the channel manager allows users to manage and customize their offerings on online agencies and metamotors from a single panel, without the need for manual intervention in the various extranets.

2. Integration with booking engine and PMS

To have an up-to-date availability calendar, all sales channels must talk to each other. This also includes the facility’s Web site, which, if integrated with a direct booking program (the booking engine) can in turn generate sales, working like any other online portal (with the substantial difference, however, that on your site you don’t pay intermediation costs!).

The same goes for manually entered closures or reservations and, in general, for all the information regarding guests, length of stay, rates, check-ins and check-outs: data and operations that you perhaps already manage from your Property Management System (PMS).

This is why it is essential that the channel manager interacts and integrates seamlessly with both the booking engine and the PMS: vice versa, you would negate all the benefits associated with automating the process. 

It is often possible to purchase all three of these platforms at the same time, thus optimizing activation time and compatibility of the various software.

Such is the case with Zak, WuBook’s all-in-one PMS, which, among its many features, also includes integrated Booking Engine and Channel Manager for hotels and smaller properties. 

3. Compatibility with digital payment systems

Another important factor in choosing the right channel manager is its compatibility with the major automated payment systems (payment gateways), which allow you to request payments and guarantees from your guests.

The most popular ones are, for example, Stripe Connect, MercadoPago, PayPal, Nexi e Redsys. In addition to ensuring their configuration, the channel manager will also have to meet the security requirements of the international standard for protecting customer credit card data (PCI DSS).  

4. Linking with Revenue Management Software

Revenue management systems (RMS) are programs that help hoteliers and property managers set the most advantageous pricing policy in relation to property characteristics, performance over time and competition. These are very useful tools to increase revenue across all channels and avoid missing valuable opportunities.

If you are considering adopting one of these software, we recommend that you also check compatibility with the channel manager.

In fact, integration between the two will allow you to act more quickly on your sales strategy, reacting immediately to market trends to maximize revenue. 

5. Reporting and trend data on channels

Speaking of revenue, even in the absence of dedicated support, it is still useful to consult sales data periodically to correct one’s business initiatives or implement new ones.

For this, a good channel manager should provide at least a general overview of the portals and bookings received by each at certain times of the year, which can be consulted at any time.

Although this is not a true analysis or forecasting tool – so you may need to hire a qualified professional – it is a starting point to begin making informed evaluations, based on real numbers. 

6. Ease of use even for those who are unfamiliar

The IT knowledge of hotel staff can be highly variable, but this should not prevent the use of a powerful tool such as this. Ease of use and a friendly interface, with straightforward graphics, clear actions, and intuitive paths, are therefore essential aspects when evaluating a channel manager. 

If you can, request a free trial before committing to a purchase. Should you decide to proceed, there will still need to be a setup and testing phase, and probably a little in-house training on the tool to enable all relevant staff to take full advantage of it (so check that it is planned and that the channel manager allows multiple users to log in together!). 

7. Ongoing support and assistance

What about in case of uncertainties or malfunctions? Make sure you can count on a helpful and capable support team, even better if it is in your native language. Unfortunately, it can happen that you forget something or make a mistake and don’t know how to intervene: the presence of a customer care team ready to resolve the situation is something not to be overlooked, especially for busy times, when the risk of error increases. When you take information about the channel manager, remember to also ask about how to access it, the hours and days when customer care is active. 

We have not mentioned it explicitly, but it is clear that – above all else – there must also be an economic evaluation: the price of the tool must be sustainable, but there are too many variables in this regard to define a universal parameter. Much may depend on the vendor or the complexity of the configuration required, or whether or not it integrates with other products from the same software house.  

Why Choose WuBook’s Channel Manager

As anticipated, WuBook’s Zak also includes integration with the Channel Manager, a software developed to meet the needs of any tourism facility, including hotels, vacation rentals and B&Bs. 

In addition to the features described so far, in fact, the Channel Manager enables: 

  • Connect to more than 100 metasearch and OTAs, including some interesting alternatives to Booking.com and Airbnb; 
  • manage differentiated channel rates directly from the control panel, to structure your offer and related restrictions strategically without wasting time; 
  • automatically detect any overbooking and quickly verify that the portals’ availability calendars are all aligned; 
  • import the archive of previous bookings obtained on Booking.com and Airbnb, to view all channel performance information in one place; 
  • view and respond to messages received from Airbnb, including those from support, so as not to lose track of what is happening in the portal.

In addition, the continuous updating and integration of new features makes this tool particularly useful and in line with the workflow optimization needs of those working in the hospitality industry, greatly simplifying their activities.

If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the right time to do it!

About WuBook:

We help customers to have easy access to the best technologies in the tourism industry to grow their business.
PMS – CHANNEL MANAGER – BOOKING ENGINE for Hotel, B&B, Hostels and Vacation rentals.
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