We have spoken before about OTAs (online travel agencies) the good and the bad when hiring them, we even introduced some tactics to sell without OTAs!
We may have different views on these intermediaries but there is no doubt that they have a great impact for the hotel's sales... so having them is sometimes inevitable.
Now, the strategy for independent hoteliers is to build a varied sales network big enough to avoid depending on a specific sale channel. Instead ensure activity over the year and limit low seasons.
Working with different online travel agencies (OTAs) is presented as a good option to generate new sales opportunities in different markets. The problem is that each time we add a new OTA we find difficulties to manage different extranets at the same time as we need to deal with:
And also overbooking can increase!
How to manage different OTAs extranets at the same time?
Basically that is what a Channel Manager do, centralize and manage different OTAs at the same time. Three major advantages of this system: administration, marketing and technical.
1. Administration advantages
Being able to manage from one place the number of units, prices and promotions will avoid you wasting time making changes in each one of the extranets and provoque mistakes.
When you make a change on the Channel Manager, the system automatically replicates those changes in the extranets and OTA's website will reflect those changes so customers can book. It must be pointed out that in the hotel industry allocated inventories can quickly change and at all times. So the automation of inventories can save you all the repetitive tasks of inventory updating and date closure.
Every time a reservations comes in the inventory will be deducted from the units booked and all extranets will be updated with the new inventory - don't waist your time updating all extranet this is done automatically and you can decrease dramatically overbookings.
Centralized management enables each unit (room, appartment, cabin...) to be sold in different portals simultaneously. It is no longer necessary to split your inventory (2 for booking, 2 for expedia, orbitz 2 for a total of 6) and loose the opportunity to sell 4 units to Orbitz for example.
As we mentioned above, the capability to manage multiple portals from one place allows you to add new online sales channels and multiply the opportunities to sell your inventory. By saving time and resources you will be able to deploy direct sales strategies.
3. Technical : From the Channel Manager to the PMS
Once the Channel Manager is controlling all OTAs inventory and prices, the booking's information will be send to the PMS Dashboard automatically. No need to register manually reservation received through email or Fax notification. Also your availability will be automatically updated for your web and Facebook booking engine.
Conclusion : A lot of critical processes are instantly performed at all hours, limiting mistakes that could affect your customer.