The Ultimate
Channel Manager
Guide

When getting started with your vacation rental property management business, you’ll find there are many aspects of the job that require a significant amoutnt of attention and time. One of the most popular ways to improve efficiency, scalability and exposure for your business is to utilize a channel manager tool.

The following will help you understand what channel management is, how it can help you and how you can choose and implement a channel manager solution for your short-term property management business.

01. What is Channel Management?

Channel management is the organization and management of various Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), booking channels and websites where you can list and promote your short-term rental properties.

Of course, channel management can be done manually by adding all of your listings to the channels of your choice and regularly updating each listing on each channel individually. However, many property managers these days seek out channel manager solutions to make their lives easier and eliminate room for human error.

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02. What is a Channel Manager?

A channel manager is a tool that allows property managers to publish and update all of their listings across multiple channels from a central dashboard and continuously manage and scale their businesses with as much exposure as possible.

The primary benefit of using a channel manager is the ability to automatically push all of your listings to as many OTAs as you want. Instead of relying on one website to promote a given listing, you can gain exposure to millions of people across multiple platforms without the massive, time-consuming undertaking of manual listing management.

Further, a channel manager significantly reduces your risk of inviting double bookings when listing on multiple channels, as you can count on the tool to reflect bookings made on one channel on the calendars of all the other channels you utilize. In other words, if a property is booked through Airbnb, those dates will be blocked on the calendar for Booking.com, HomeAway and any other channels you may be using.

A central dashboard for all of your listings on all of your channels also enables quick adjustments, such as pricing or description changes that will take effect across all platforms.

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03. Do Your Listings Need a Channel Manager?

Now that you understand the concept of a channel manager and how it can simplify listing management, it’s important to understand whether you should be using one for your business. Before answering this broader question, you need to take a look at the specifics of your company.

What is your budget?

A channel manager is only necessary for property management companies that promote their listings across multiple channels, which is something that should only be done if it’s beneficial to your business (which, truth be told, it generally is). Assess whether listing on multiple channels is bringing or will bring in more revenue and whether you can afford the commission charged by specific channels, as the percentage varies between OTAs. Answering these questions about budget is where you should start before using a channel manager to disperse your listings to multiple booking sites.

How many vacation rental property listings do you own / manage?

A channel manager is only necessary for property management companies that promote their listings across multiple channels, which is something that should only be done if it’s beneficial to your business (which, truth be told, it generally is). Assess whether listing on multiple channels is bringing or will bring in more revenue and whether you can afford the commission charged by specific channels, as the percentage varies between OTAs. Answering these questions about budget is where you should start before using a channel manager to disperse your listings to multiple booking sites.

How different or diverse are your listings?

A channel manager is only necessary for property management companies that promote their listings across multiple channels, which is something that should only be done if it’s beneficial to your business (which, truth be told, it generally is). Assess whether listing on multiple channels is bringing or will bring in more revenue and whether you can afford the commission charged by specific channels, as the percentage varies between OTAs. Answering these questions about budget is where you should start before using a channel manager to disperse your listings to multiple booking sites.

How do you define your target audience? What are they looking for?

Are they an audience that you can reach out to with targeted ads online or will the widespread exposure of an OTA help to promote your listings to more people? Are your listings diverse in that they offer more of an experience than just an overnight stay? If that is the case, you may want to promote them on booking channels like Airbnb, TripAdvisor and the like to bundle them with attractions and experiences nearby.

Is there such a thing as listing on too many channels?

Yes. It may cost money to have each of your listings featured on every booking channel and this may be prohibitive for your business. Further, too much exposure might be overwhelming if your business is relatively new, so keeping to one or two booking channels at the outset could be more practical for your property management company, at least until you’re ready to expand your operations.

Conversely, if you’re looking to scale and grow your vacation rental property management portfolio then it would make sense to have your listings showcased on as many booking channels as possible. That being said, there is a lot of heavy lifting that comes with having your listings distributed across multiple booking channels, but if you’re up to the challenge then you’re likely to see an increase in bookings across the board.

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04. Navigating Vacation Rental Property Listing Online Distribution and Channel Management

Once you’ve decided that utilizing a channel manager is right for your business, there are a few more factors that come into play.

How many channels do you want to use?

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the diverse booking channels at your disposal.

booking.com channel manager
Guesty channel manager Airbnb
Guesty channel manager agoda
Guesty channel manager Tripadvisor
Guesty channel manager Vrbo

These channels are the biggest in the business and should help your listings attract countless potential guests across various regions and markets. Airbnb is the largest player in the market and is certainly the most well-known booking channel for short-term rentals. Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Agoda are all excellent options that often couple properties with travel experiences available nearby. HomeAway and VRBO are also legitimate contenders, offering millions of listings worldwide and providing a robust platform for short-term rental property managers.

Do you want to just focus on channels that you are more familiar with like Airbnb or Booking.com? Would you like to attract foreign markets by promoting your properties on sites like Agoda? Perhaps your listings are more niche and would perform well on distribution platforms like misterB&B that are tailored to guests seeking specific kinds of experiences. Once you answer these questions it will be easier to decide which channels to sync with your channel manager tool.

How will you stay ahead of the competition?

By skillfully navigating multiple booking channels simultaneously, you can stay ahead of competitors by offering listings to a larger and more diverse audience.

The ease with which you can adjust prices with a channel manager tool can also offer you a competitive advantage, as you can quickly generate price dips to attract guests and fill last-minute vacancies.

The capacity to effortlessly update all of your listings and maintain an updated calendar will also serve you well, as booking platforms tend to reward hosts with active listings by ranking them higher in their search results. The reduced margin for double bookings and need for cancellations will also generally result in higher placement in OTA search results.

Before even listing your properties on the various booking channels, you can use them to scope out the competition. Taking time to research listings similar to yours and in similar locations will help you get an idea of how much to charge, what amenities and information to include in your listing profiles and whether your listings have a chance of attracting guests on those specific channels.

Of course, scouring various booking channels can also give you some insight as to where there are gaps in the market for you to add your listings and attract a larger market share of potential guests.

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05. How a Channel Manager Can be Used to Improve Your Business

It’s easy to see how using a channel manager can help your property management company gain more exposure, but another benefit is organization.

Once you’ve added multiple listings to the various booking channels, the guests and booking requests can start rolling in and become overwhelming. Using a channel manager will help you stay on top of all of this traffic, confirm the best bookings and avoid any potential hurdles like double bookings.

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06. Benefits of Using Channel Manager Software

With no need to jump from booking channel to booking channel in order to make necessary changes to your listings and calendars, perhaps the most significant benefit of using channel manager software is time saved.

With channel manager software all of your listings across all of the booking channels will be centralized in one place so you don’t need to log into each individual channel to maintain them. You can synchronize listing details and updates to listings across all channels from within the channel manager itself, so one action will be echoed across all the platforms of your choosing. You can add photos, edit descriptions, block dates and update pricing details or establish automated pricing for each or all of your listings all from the channel manager itself.

Certain property management systems have direct integrations with booking channels like Airbnb and Booking.com to make publishing and managing your listings on these sites even more seamless.

How to choose channel manager software

There are many different channel managers available on the market and it’s best to find the one that is most suited to the needs of your business. While conducting research on the various platforms, here are some questions you should be asking to help you decide which software is right for you:

  • Is the channel manager tool integrated with or offered by your property management system?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is the software available in your native language?
  • Does the software offer a free trial period so you can test it out?
  • What is the pricing model for using the software?
  • What is the onboarding process or timeframe when getting started?
  • Does the system offer reporting tools?
  • With which channels does the channel manager have direct integrations, allowing for more seamless synchronization?

Answering these questions will get you started on narrowing down your options and choosing the right channel manager software for you.

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07. Other Systems to Combine With a Channel Manager for Your Properties

A channel manager can be a standalone tool, or can be integrated with various other solutions aimed at facilitating simpler and more efficient short-term property management.

Here are some of the solutions property managers typically use alongside a channel manager:

Property Management Software

Oftentimes, channel managers are available as a tool within a property management software (PMS), but if not, combining the power of a PMS with your channel manager is the best way to successfully manage your short-term property listings.

The key benefit here is two-way communication between the two, meaning that when you update a specific reservation or listing information from your calendar, it will update in your PMS and vice versa. Save yourself the time of updating information twice and have everything sync automatically to become more efficient as a property manager.

Of course, integrating a channel manager tool with a PMS will also allow you to sync with other tools available within the PMS such as a unified inbox, task management solution and analytics to keep everything working in harmony for your listings.

Pricing Tools

Your calendar may be full of reservations, but it’s not fully optimized until you take advantage of a pricing tool. The value of being able to automate your price adjustments to continuously maximize occupancy and revenue cannot be overstated. Sophisticated pricing tools can measure demand and tweak your prices accordingly in real time, lowering rates during slower periods and boosting them when the travelers are lining up.

Online Booking Solution

Once you have all of your listings featured across the various channels, you may want to consider creating a channel of your very own, where you don’t have to share the spotlight – or the commission.

A direct booking platform will allow you to build up your brand and a loyal customer base, providing satisfied guests with a place to peruse all of your accommodations when they want to book with you again down the line. With the right channel manager and booking website builder combination, you can seamlessly sync the two so that all of the updates and info you’re pushing to other OTAs will be reflected on your direct booking channel as well.

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Key Takeaways

Overwhelmed with information? Let’s review all of the highlights of this article to ensure you walk away with a thorough
understanding of what a channel manager is and how it can benefit your property management business.

  • There are various booking channels (including
    your own!) that must be properly and effectively
    managed to help your property management
    scale. A channel manager is essential to ensuring
    efficient management across the various sites.
  • Ideally, your chosen channel manager should
    integrate with the tools you already use for your
    day-to-day business, as well as those you may be
    interested in implementing in the future.
  • Remember – you don’t need to be on every
    booking channel right out of the gate. Start with
    some research on which sites will work best for
    your business and scale up from there.
  • Ensure that the tool you choose offers a smooth
    onboarding and training process to help you get
    started.
  • Your company’s budget and the pricing of the
    various tools on the market should be critical
    factors in deciding which one you should choose.
  • Once you’ve selected a channel manager, look into
    the other tools that can complement it to advance
    your company’s goals and take your business to
    the next level.
  • Conduct substantial research on the various
    channel manager tools to learn more about their
    ease of use and adaptability to your business.

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