1. Does the channel manager have up-to-date API connections?
We can’t stress this enough: reliable API connections are the heart of a successful channel management strategy.
When speaking with channel management providers, inquire if they have the most recent updates in place for each online travel agent they work with.
A good way to do this is by checking your preferred online booking site’s product update log for new features. Then, ask the channel management company whether their users have access to those features.
2. Does the company provide tools and resources to help property managers grow their businesses?
Channel managers should always strive to provide their clients with the best tools and resources on the market.
Buying a channel manager is a huge business decision and something that will impact your day-to-day life and your bottom line.
So, choose a provider that makes a constant effort to not only keep their connections up-to-date but offer extra help with business strategy, search engine optimisation in OTAs, revenue management, and more.
Does the company have account managers who can give you advice on which online distribution channels to get listed on?
Are they making an effort to keep adding new channels to their list of connections?
Will you receive guidance on how to optimise your listings so they rank higher on OTAs?
Does the channel manager have advanced pricing options that can help you fine-tune your revenue management?
These are all good questions to ask the provider you have your eye on!
3. Is the channel manager recognised as a trusted partner by major OTAs?
You’ll know a good channel manager by the number of OTA badges they have. That is, how many online booking sites recognise them as trusted partners.
OTAs have strict criteria for the partners they choose to work with. Their endorsement is always a good indicator of a channel manager’s expertise and reliability.
Currently, Rentals United is the only vacation rental channel manager recommended by the four big OTAs: Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo/HomeAway and Tripadvisor.
4. How long does the channel manager onboarding process take?
When contracting a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider like a channel manager, there’s usually an onboarding process that requires the investment of time and effort from your side.
This is necessary for you to get to know the software and all of its features, so you can get the most out of it when you’re using it on your own.
However, make sure that the onboarding process doesn’t take too long. The whole point of getting a channel manager is to save time. If it takes months just to learn how to use the tool, it’s probably not the best investment of your time or money.
At Rentals United, we like to get the onboarding done within three weeks. The process involves a 1-hour introductory call, a 30-minute follow-up call, a 30-minute wrap-up call and some homework in between. That’s it!
Once your channel manager is set up, you can start mastering your online distribution and increasing your bookings, with the peace of mind that your channels will always be in perfect sync.
Learn more about getting started with Rentals United
5. What’s included in the pricing?
Before you commit to a channel manager, make sure you understand how its pricing works.
Here’s what to look out for:
Is it a subscription service or a commission-based service?
Is there a setup fee?
Do you have to sign a long-term contract?
We recommend choosing a subscription service over a commission-based one so you know exactly how much you’ll be paying each month.
It’s also advisable to go with a provider who doesn’t require you to sign a long-term contract - just in case you need to cancel your plan for some reason.
A reasonable setup fee can be justified, but there are many providers out there who don’t require a setup fee and will still guide you through the onboarding process with the help of a dedicated specialist.
If you’re contracting a subscription service, it’s also good to double check what the pricing plan includes.
Here are some questions to ask:
Are all the tools the channel manager has included in the monthly fee or just the basics?
Are any external services that the channel manager integrates with included in the pricing, or do you have to contract them separately?
Are listing site commissions included in the pricing?
For example, at Rentals United, you don’t need to sign a long-term contract, there’s no setup fee, and our monthly fees include using our Channel Manager as well as all of our other tools: Guest Planner, Booking Engine, Guest Communication, Quality Checker, iCal Sync and Multi-Calendar.
For more info, check out our pricing page