12 things your Channel Manager should do;
- Have a safety net so that OTA's are AUTOMATCALLY closed BUT your website remains open when only a few rooms remain.
- Have a setting that closes ALL OTA channels when inventory is low.
- Allow some channels to be individually closed on specific dates.
- Allow Throttling/restricting of the qty of rooms passed to OTA's for specific room types on specific dates.
- Allow for room availability to be closed out when room quantities are low.
- Have an alert which shows when rooms has been created on an OTA that has not been mapped.
- Allow the booking to go directly into a room on the PMS.
- Allow you to inform the OTA when a credit card is declined (For Booking.com).
- Allow you to see when a new card has been presented.
- Allow a message to be sent to all bookers, no matter which OTA they come from 'x' days before the guest arrives.
- Inform you if a booking retrieved from an OTA that is going into a room without sufficient beds.
- Ideally as the Channel Manager becomes your Master Tool where you upload and control your availability, it should also offer all the features a good Booking Engine should have ie Promo Codes, Special Offers, Gift Vouchers. If it doesnt you will have the work of managing a second platform ie Your Booking Engine supplier to enter this content.
Three last points that are hard to describe with Bullett Points;
1. Building interfaces between different systems is not easy. You may be surprised to know that some OTA's are having breakdowns almost EVERY Week and they are changing their interfaces at regular intervals. You need a Channel Manager that 'cares' ie Chases the OTA after they inform us they have had an outage to see if any bookings have been missed etc
2. As said above, this industry is complicated, we know our competitors are promoting Channel Managers that only require minimal support, but with the best will in the world, we still think that specialist/inside knowledge is needed to get the most out of a Channel Manager. In our humble view good support is actually more important Channel Manager features!!
3. Finally, if you think about what you are doing when you buy a Channel Manager separate to your PMS, you are effectively buying a car with an engine from Ford and a Gearbox from Peugeot!.......with the subsequent issues of cost and reliability and who do you speak to when something goes wrong! Keep in mind that as a rough estimate only 70% of bookings are 'clean' ie 30% are cancelled or modified in some way. If someone makes a booking and then decides that their granny is leaving one day early so the qty of people in the reservations and the price and the stay dates all change...... all this information has to flow back and forwards between two interfaces....and often it doesnt! Its hard to beat having just one system ie a PMS and Channel Manager from the same supplier so that information does not have to be passed between the two systems.