channel managers work or don't work

How Channel Managers work (or don’t work)

This is the question we wanted to address on March 20th at the Conciergerie Locative Fair in Lyon. It was an opportunity for us to share our views on the subject and provide guidance to property managers starting up or expanding their businesses. Were you unable to attend? No problem! Catch up today on a somewhat complex topic: how channel managers work…or don’t work?!

This presentation by Camille Texier (Senior Sales Representative at RentalReady) and Aline Mostachetti (Onboarding and Account Manager at RentalReady) aims to: 

  • Understand what a Channel Manager is;
  • Show how to choose between a Channel Manager and an all-in-one software to manage your holiday rentals;
  • Ask the right questions for the development of your business.

Making the right choice of tool for managing your holiday lets is essential to achieve your booking objectives. In this highly competitive sector, a solution tailored to your needs is a time (and money!) saver. So, how channel managers work ?

How Channel Managers work?

Let’s start by laying the groundwork. When we talk about a Channel Manager, we’re referring to a software solution for distributing and synchronising your listings on platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, or GuestReady.

Rates, availability and descriptions are synchronised, which saves time if your holiday rentals are listed on multiple platforms. With the Channel Manager, you can make changes to all your listings using a single tool.

The Channel Manager allows you to be present on multiple booking websites and therefore increase your occupancy rates. But beware: a Channel Manager is not a PMS (Property Management System)! These are two different things. Understanding the differences between these two solutions is essential if you are to make the right choice.

What are the differences between a Channel Manager and a PMS?

Many people often confuse Channel Manager and PMS (Property Management System). However, these two tools are different and are not used for the same purpose.

A PMS is a tool that covers all operational aspects: operations, tasks, communication with guests, payment management, and more. With a PMS, you can automate more tasks compared to a Channel Manager. It’s a more comprehensive tool, yet easy to use, especially if it has an integrated channel manager.

What solutions currently exist on the market ?

how channel managers work (with pms)

Managers are often faced with two choices: opt for a Channel Manager that has some shortcomings (additional options are often required to have a complete tool) or choose an all-in-one software solution.

There are 4 solutions for managing your holiday lets, each with its own specificities.

Using a pure Channel Manager

Some Channel Managers offer some PMS functionalities, such as reservation management and communication with guests.

Opting for a PMS with an integrated Channel Manager

Some PMS systems are developing their own official API connections with booking platforms like RentalReady.

Using a PMS with an external Channel Manager

Another option for managing your rentals is to choose a PMS with an external Channel Manager. This setup provides connectivity with booking platforms but is not officially partnered with the OTAs.

Opting for a PMS with an external + internal Channel Manager

This solution provides a PMS that has developed some integrations. With the external Channel Manager, it’s possible to expand your business to OTAs.

Official API connections: a solution for a more complete tool

When we look at how Channel Managers work, we understand that it is a practical tool for synchronising listings, rates, availability, bookings, overnight stays and basic pricing rules. 

However, if you choose to opt for official API connections, you can expand your scope of action! This allows you to transform your Channel Manager into a more comprehensive tool, similar to a PMS.

By integrating APIs into your Channel Manager, you can synchronise : 

  • reviews
  • advanced pricing definitions
  • photo order 
  • cancellation policies
  • payment adjustments

You will also be able to generate your listings from your PMS, centralise messages from guests coming from different short-term rental platforms, and manage bookings in just a few clicks.

Choosing a customised offer: good or bad idea?

It is possible to create a customised offer to meet certain needs, but is it really effective for managing your holiday lets?

It is essential to ask yourself the right questions before choosing your management solution:

  • Will the choice you make today still be valid in 6 or 12 months?
  • How many properties do you plan to manage in 1, 2, or 5 years?

A Channel Manager often has shortcomings that can prevent you from achieving good rental performance. Building a bespoke offering by adding tools has its advantages and disadvantages (mostly disadvantages!).

HOW CHANNEL MANAGERS WORK OR NOT

In 2024, there are more than 450 companies specialising in the short-term rental industry. Each provides solutions and tools that can meet the needs of property managers. Click here for the full list.

By opting for a tailor-made offer, you can potentially choose the best tool to meet your specific needs, provided you know the market well and know how to make the right choices. 

You also need to think about the day-to-day use of these tools: the time it takes to get used to them and juggling between different tools… While you may want to create a customised tool to save time, you’ll soon realise that it can take more time than expected!

In fact, if the synchronisations are not done correctly or the tools are poorly chosen, you will have to carry out tasks manually to fill in the gaps. Not all the information is synchronised between your PMS and the various external software applications: it has to be checked and updated manually.

Finally, what happens if your tools have a bug? When you’re using several different tools, it’s complicated to know which one is at fault and how to fix it. In short, creating a tailor-made offering costs time and money.

Choosing a complete, scalable solution: good or bad idea? 

At RentalReady, we believe that opting for an all-in-one software solution remains the most comprehensive solution currently available.

Indeed, all-in-one software offers significant advantages:

  • You only need to train yourself (and your team) to use a single tool.
  • In the event of a bug, you have one point of contact: you don’t need to search for which tool is causing the issue among the various tools added to your Channel Manager.
  • All data concerning your rentals is stored in the same place and synchronised.

Another significant advantage: opting for a comprehensive tool costs less than creating a custom solution. Before making your choice, don’t hesitate to ask yourself questions about your growth objectives and assess your needs, especially in terms of customer relations.

How do you choose between PMS and Channel Manager? The list of questions you need to ask yourself to make the right choice

During our presentation at CLF 2024, we provided participants with a short form listing all the questions they should ask themselves before choosing between PMS and a Channel Manager.

Now that you’ve read our article and delved into how channel managers work, are you ready to make the right choice? We invite you to download our list of questions for free by clicking here.

This tool is very useful if you need to compare Channel Managers or PMS. In just a few questions, you’ll be able to identify your needs. Once you’ve made your choice, all you have to do is take action to optimise your business!

Get in touch with RentalReady

In conclusion, making the right choice between a Channel Manager and a PMS is crucial for the success of your vacation rental business. If you find yourself in need of guidance or assistance during this decision-making process, we are here to help. Our team of experts is available to provide personalised support and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to us for assistance, and let us help you navigate through this important decision.