Right now, the large majority of vacations are booked via the World Wide Web. Those that are still renting their properties using offline sources are only doing so because they already have a large customer base. However, for 99.9% of the vacation rental marketplace, online sales channels are essential to maximising occupancy. Thankfully Lodgify, which is a tech company within the vacation rentals niche, offers a way to manage multiple online sales channels in one centralised location.
Lodgify’s vacation rental website builder is the company’s flagship product and service. As a blot on to this, the website builder also comes with a free channel manager.
What is the Channel Manager Exactly?
To reiterate, a channel manager is a central location giving vacation rental owners as well as hotel businesses a place to centrally manage their booking system. It connects to multiple vacation rental and hotel websites pulling the data from these sites back to the centralised Channel Manager. The most useful aspect of this tool is that it solves the issue of having to manage multiple calendars on several websites manually.
Double bookings are a common occurrence if there is not an automated system in place that can update the calendars on all sales channels when a new booking is made.
- A channel manager automatically keeps in sync with the calendars on all other websites vacation rentals are listed.
- As soon as a booking is made, the site that took the booking will send a push request to its calendar.
- That push request is received by the channel manager, which in turn blocks the dates on its calendar for the property that was booked.
- The channel manager will send a push request to all other calendars on other websites the same property is listed.
- All calendars on all other websites will block the dates on the relevant calendar as unavailable, so new searches for the booked dates will no longer show this property.
As you can see, there is no need for human intervention as the process is completely automated. Obviously to begin with there is some manual work involved. Listing properties accurately is step 1. Step 2 would make sure all the calendars are set to sync with channel manager calendar.
Does the Channel Manager Perform Any Other Tasks?
One of the main advantages of the channel manager is, of course, avoiding double bookings and human error. Automation is one of the wonders of technology today, and where automation can be applied, productivity can be increased in other areas of the business. The designers of the Lodgify channel manager knew that there was more that could be added to this amazing tool, and so they set out to add more additional features.
- Control pricing across multiple channels
- Automate housecleaning with multi-calendars
- Manage special offers and discounts
This is just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to seamlessly managing a vacation rental business. In fact, some people that have used the channel manager have taken advantage of all the features and not had to lift a finger because the housekeeping, bookings, and the option for dynamic pricing means that the entire system runs itself.
What are the Downsides to Having No Channel Manager?
A good example is double bookings. For example, if someone has a vacation rental property listed on both HomeAway and Booking.com, then that person would need to manually manage dates available as well as dates in which properties are booked.
This is far from convenient because this leaves too much room for human error. A booking may come in HomeAway, but the vacation rental owner or one of his or her team does not block the calendar on Booking.com, then there is a potentially embarrassing situation where a double booking may occur.
That is to say if someone books Property A on HomeAway for 10 days, and then someone books the same property A on Booking.com for days that overlap the 10-day HomeAway booking, this creates a double booking.
When this happens, it is not only embarrassing because you will need to contact the guest to explain the situation, there is also the possibility that the guest will not cancel, which then means the owner of the vacation rental will be penalised.
Penalisations usually end up in negative search engine optimisation (SEO) on the vacation rental website the property is listed or there is a financial penalty. Add negative SEO, the time taken to rectify the problem, and financial penalties that could be incurred, and all this will negatively affect a vacation rental’s bottom line.
Who Best Suits the Lodgify Channel Manager?
Anyone with a vacation rental property is suited to the Lodgify Channel Manager whether the business owner has 1 property or multiple properties. The idea of the channel manager is to encourage vacation rental owners to spread their wings and advertise on multiple websites. It really does not matter how many vacation rentals someone owns, to maximise occupancy or exposure, the most effective way to do this is to have your property showing on multiple vacation rental website.
Were we to narrow this question down and mention who would benefit the most from a channel manager, then the answer would most certainly be those with multiple vacation rental properties.
It is all very well managing two or three properties across multiple sites without a channel manage. This is because the manual work involved is not labour intensive.
Now imagine a hotel with multiple rooms and/or locations. The same applies to a bed and breakfast. On top of this, imagine a vacation rental owner managing 20 to 100 properties. This business could have properties listed on Flipkey, Airbnb, HomeAway, and many other websites in order to maximise exposure in order to increase occupancy.
Imagine having to manual manage all these sites. It is hard to imagine, but there are businesses out there that are currently hiring staff on shift patterns to manage bookings across all the websites the business’s properties are listed on. That is 24 hours a day and 7 days a week paying someone to not only answer customer/guest enquiries but at the same time remember to block calendars on several other websites when a booking comes in on a single website.
Although there are many people out there that do not approve of automation because computers are taking over jobs, the long of the short of it is that businesses need to make money. Managing several calendars takes a lot of man-hours. Plus, manual work, unfortunately, has proven to be prone to human error. Combine the costs involved and a channel manager makes perfect sense no matter what the argument may be.
Large business and hotels must rely on a reliable automated system like Lodgify’s channel manage. This would then free up the time of those employed to manage calendars to spend more due care and attention to customer service and brand management.
Why Use Multiple Websites for My Vacation Rental?
ATTENTION ALL VACATION RENTAL OWNERS
Some businesses are happy having their property listed on just one or two websites. This is not the ideal and frankly not the best way to maximise the business’s potential. Some business owners may not list on multiple websites because they do not want the hassle of managing multiple websites. This is probably because they are not aware of the Lodgify channel manager.
Most websites like Airbnb and HomeAway are free to a vacation rental. The website makes its profit by introducing its own fees to every booking. This is how sites such as Airbnb are able to operate.
Additionally, these websites have huge marketing budgets. They advertise on multiple channels using Google Ads, Yahoo Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Press Circulation, and much more. Their budgets reach into millions of dollars per year. This is far more than many vacation property owners can manage.
Inevitably, these websites are going to attract thousands of visitors per day looking to book a vacation rental, bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Now imagine 2,000 people per month looking at the area a business’s vacation rental is situated on Airbnb. Then plus 2,500 from HomeAway, and 1,000 from Booking.com (all as an example). In the end, listing on multiple websites would mean the possible exposure to over 5,500 visitors looking for accommodation in that location.
On the other hand, if the vacation rental business was listed only on Airbnb, then exposure is severely reduced. This is not good business or marketing practise; especially seeing as listing on these websites is free!
Make Life Easier and Increase Productivity
Weighing up the pros and the cons of having a channel manager, well, there are no cons. The pros have been clearly outlined here in this article. The Lodgify Channel Manager gives vacation rental owners a way to seamlessly manage multiple websites for multiple vacation rentals.
The most enticing point to be made here is that the Channel Manager is free!
This is a great deal when you consider it helps to avoid wasted manual labour and helps to increase a business’s bottom line by reducing the risks of human error.
Next, the channel manager helps increase exposure for all vacation rentals without the fear of increased management time or overheads. This is achieved by having the luxury of being able to list properties on multiple sites being safe in the knowledge that the channel manager is there to automate bookings and manage calendars automatically.
It is the perfect excuse for vacation rental owners to broaden their horizons by creating listing on multiple vacation rental websites in order to increase their properties’ market reach.
To put a finer point on the subject, problem areas common to those running a vacation rental business can be avoided by simply introducing the channel manager to a vacation rental company’s business model.
Lodgify’s Channel Manager:
- Helps to increase exposure by encouraging listings on more websites
- Reduces loss of reputation through double bookings
- Helps to avoid penalties for cancellations due to double bookings
- Prevents negative SEO applied to listings on a website a cancellation was made
- Decreases administrative time involved in managing multiple calendars
- Helps to eliminate housekeeping errors and maximise housekeeping productivity
- Assists with managing multiple pricing in order to avoid sporadic pricing
- Increase vacation rental business’s bottom line