Top reasons for switching Channel Managers:
– Connection quality. Some channel managers may offer iCal connections, as opposed to a much more reliable API connection to listing sites. Making sure you inquire about the connection type (two-way, iCal, full API) should be a priority when your software shopping.
– More connections. If you’d like to start diversifying your distribution and listing your properties on new booking platforms, you need to look for a channel manager that connects with all the large, niche and regional listing sites instead of just covering the basic ones.
– You’re paying too much. If you feel like you’re overspending on commissions or advanced features that you’re not using, choose a software solution that fits your budget and/or the owner’s costs if you manage multiple properties. Analyse your ROI, costs and savings after a full business year or different seasons.
– You need advanced pricing options. Smart channel managers will allow you to set advanced rates, such as price-per-night, weekend pricing or changeover days, and give you the option to easily alter your rates to cover channel fees.
– You’re not happy with the business support provided. It’s given that you’re looking for a trusted partner for your business, therefore look for a company that is transparent, offers exceptional support and makes customer feedback a key part of their improvement.
How to find the right Channel Manager for you
Choosing a channel manager from the hundreds of software products out there can be challenging. To identify the right channel manager for your business, you’re going to have to do a bit of research.
1. Browse Comparison Websites
You can use websites like Capterra to compare and contrast the different channel management tools out there. Start by looking at the star ratings, but don’t make your decision based on solely that. Read as many user reviews as you can, because this is how you’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each channel for a business like yours. If you like a software provider based on what you’re reading, go to their website and investigate further.
2. Ask OTAs and Vacation Rental Listing Sites
If a channel manager is recognised as a Preferred Partner of the largest listing sites like Airbnb or Booking.com, that’s a good indicator of how trustworthy their technology actually is. If these sites have openly declared that they prefer certain providers, it’s because they have a good working relationship and trust that their partners are the best choices for property managers advertising on their websites.
3. Get Referrals from other Property Managers
Don’t hesitate to get in touch directly with other property managers and ask them about their experience with the channel managers that they use. Ask them about everything from connection quality to the number of channels and onboarding experience. If you don’t have any other property managers in your personal network, try asking questions on online vacation rental forums.
As you’re doing your research, keep an eye out for the following:
– Does the channel manager connect with all the listing sites that you currently advertise your property on (and more)?
– Is the channel manager compatible with your PMS (if you’re using one) or does it offer an all-in-one solution (PMS + channel manager)?
– Do you need to enter a long-term contract to start working with them, or is there a setup fee, free demo or free trial option?
Switching Channel Managers: the Checklist
When making changes in the backend of your business, the last thing you want is for it to have an impact on the front-end. In other words, as you’re making the switch from one channel manager to the other, you need to make sure that your listings don’t disappear from any of the channels you’re advertising on. A few minutes of downtime is inevitable, but you need to make sure you’re picking a channel manager that can guarantee you won’t miss out on too many valuable bookings.
You also need to make sure that it won’t take ages to upload your properties into the new channel manager. The whole reason why you’re using a channel manager is to save time. You don’t want to have to spend days feeding your properties into a new software. Channel managers like Rentals United allow you to manually upload your properties in less than 15 minutes per unit. In the case of Rentals United, you can also add them via your PMS, through API sync and soon more options.
Once you’ve picked the lucky winner, make sure you check off these points from your to-do list.
1. Plan to make the switch at a time when you don’t usually get a lot of bookings – avoiding high seasons and weekends when travellers book the most.
2. Inform the key account managers at all of your connected listing sites that you’re switching channel managers.
3. Designate a team to project manage the software migration, setting specific tasks and a drawing up a timeline. Keep in mind that OTA mapping can take less than 5 minutes per property, but some listing sites can take several weeks to switch the connections for you.
4. Prepare an excel/cvc sheet of all mapping details for the OTAs, including property IDs, names and markups. It will help you remain organized and cross them out one by one.
5. The rule to live by: make sure that your new channel manager has up-to-date information (especially pricing, calendars, minimum stays), as this info will overwrite the info in the listing sites once the connection is switched on.
Concerned about the time, cost and resources that switching Channel Managers can take? Request assistance from one of our consultants who have helped countless of property managers.