Before we go any further, lets declare that we, AccuBook do in fact sell a Channel Manager as part of our product suite, so it might sound strange that we dare pose this question.
AccuBook has long known that selling rooms online in a 2 part process, the first part Inventory Distribution (The process of passing rooms and availability to Online Travel Agents such as Expedia etc, usually via a Channel Manager), can happen over night. Engage a Channel Manager and contract with the OTA's and most properties will see room revenue increase in a matter of weeks.
The second part involves Online Marketing, putting in place the processes to sell room direct from the hotels own website, ie Google Adwords. E mail and Social Media Marketing, TripConnect etc etc This is a long dull dry process that needs to be executed consistently over a period of years before they start to see results, and most hotels dont have the time, energy and resources to do this.
The result? If a hotel engages a Channel Manager but fails to also improve their own online marketing they WILL see revenue increase, but with bookings from the OTA's. Most hotels are not too glum about this, until it comes to paying the commission invoices at the end of the month.
The kick start for this articles comes from a phone call we had a hotel customers in September last year, it went something like this;
Hotel; We have seen our business increase through the OTA's by 250%...
AccuBook ; (Break out the donuts folks, one happy customer!)
Hotel;......and we think its your Channel Managers fault!!!!!!
In this case the Channel Manager had done its job admirably (it should be added that as part of the process of setting up the Channel Manager they had done some spring cleaning, increasing the number of OTA's they worked with and the room and rate types available)..........but our hotel customer was now having to pay some startling commission bills. Their initial reaction was to discontinue with the Channel Manager, or start cutting down the room types available and the OTA's they were working with etc. We convinced them that they needed to take make the necessary investment in their OWN Online Marketing, and with some amount of scepticism they agreed, the new website was released, a Google Adwords Campaign was put in place, and they began to communicate with their customers monthly (Email/ SocialMedia etc). The result was not only an increase in direct bookings through their own website, but as a percentage when compared with the OTA's
Conclusion? A Channel Manager can indeed increase bookings, but mainly through the OTA's, but if the hotel doesn't simultaneously ramp up their own online marketing they can end seeing all their online bookings divert to the OTA's and end up paying heavenly commission bills to the OTA's.