What is a Channel Manager for Vacation Rentals? ᐅ Guide

A Channel Manager helps you manage your vacation rental across different booking portals. Why it has advantages to synchronize them automatically and what you have to pay attention to.

What is a Channel Manager?

A Channel Manager is a cloud software that helps you manage your reservations and inventory on different booking portals like Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia and others. Besides the booking portals, you can also synchronize your own management software or your own vacation rental website with it.

A Channel Manager synchronizes the calendars, prices, reservations and messages between the individual booking portals. This synchronization takes place automatically and in real time as soon as something changes somewhere. This ensures that all calendars are up to date and that no double bookings or overbookings happen. Channel management is the best solution for managing your properties.

Channel Manager for vacation rental owners, landlords and hosts

Channel Managers have been used in the hotel sector for many years and even the larger agencies work with Channel Manager software solutions. Unfortunately, these are often very complicated and very expensive and therefore not suitable for the typical vacation rental host (or vacation rental owner or vacation rental landlord) with one or a few accommodations.

Meanwhile, there are inexpensive vacation rental Channel Managers like Smoobu, which are perfect for private and semi-professional hosts of vacation rental homes, cottages, apartments and other type of accommodations. For these hosts it is even more important to advertize on as many booking platforms as possible. Because only in this way they remain independent and only in this way they can achieve a higher occupancy rate.

No more double bookings

Especially for these short-term rental hosts, it’s a nightmare if their vacation rental is accidentally double-booked. After all, the apartment or house only exists once and alternative rooms are usually not available. Double bookings or double reservations not only lead to dissatisfaction for the guest, who has to look for new accommodation. For the host, too, they mean stress, additional costs and, in the worst case, negative reviews.

A good Channel Manager helps you to avoid exactly that and you even save on average 3 hours of working time per week. Moreover, a reliable Channel Manager lets you sleep peacefully. Even when bookings arrive at night, availability is updated in real time.

Interfaces to the most important vacation rental booking portals

When choosing a vacation rental Channel Manager, you should make sure that it has interfaces to the most important booking platforms. If, for example, Airbnb or Booking.com or VRBO as a portal are not connected via an interface, overbookings are pre-programmed.

With Smoobu, for example, you can connect your properties to large international portals such as Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, Agoda, Trip.com and others. In addition, there are still synchronization to niche portals that specialize in certain target groups or booking portals that are relevant in other parts of the world.

Should you use a Channel Manager?

  • Do you own a vacation rental that you rent out through multiple booking portals?
  • Have you ever had a double booking or an overbooking?
  • Do you want to save time managing your vacation rental?
  • Do you want to automate as much as possible when renting out?
  • Do you want to improve revenue, turnover and occupancy of your vacation home?

A Channel Manager is an absolute must for every vacation rental landlord or short-term rental host. Only this way he/she can advertize on many booking channels at the same time without double bookings. No matter if one accommodation or 100, without management software renting quickly becomes confusing and error-prone.

Even if you only offer your accommodation on one platform such as Airbnb and your own website with direct bookings, double bookings can quickly occur. This can be easily prevented with a Channel Manager. With it, your availability calendar is automatically updated with every booking. You have an overview of all bookings and your customers always see the prices and availability in real time.

Channel Managers like Smoobu also offer many opportunities for automation and are ideal for private owners who have little time and do not live close to their properties.

How does a Channel Manager work?

The cloud software helps you synchronize the bookings of your vacation rental. Once a guest has made a reservation, the accommodation is automatically blocked on the other booking platforms for that period and is no longer available for bookings. These real-time updates are realized via API connections between the individual booking channels.

Linking the individual portals is child’s play. The channel manager guides you step by step through the whole process.

A house with several individual apartments or rooms

And if, for example, you have a vacation rental house with several units that you offer individually or as a whole accommodation for families, you can easily set this up in the Channel Manager. As soon as a guest then books one of the units, the calendars on all platforms are synchronized and the entire house is no longer available for selection. Learn more about it here.

Automate communication with guests

With a Channel Manager, you conveniently control your guest communications through just one channel. The main advantage is: You can send messages automatically to all bookings from all portals. Special message interfaces to the booking portals ensure that the guest sees the messages in his/her Airbnb or Booking.com app.

Guests ask you their questions directly through the portal they booked through. You receive the messages in your Channel Manager inbox and can reply directly. This way you can quickly respond to special requests and problems. So the advantage is that you don’t have to login to all your accounts on Booking.com, Airbnb, VRBO etc. to read and reply to your guests’ messages. You always have all bookings in view, regardless of which portal was booked.

Another advantage is that communication with your guests becomes consistent through the Channel Manager. For example, you can set your guests to automatically receive a digital guest guide by email one week before the booked date. There you will find all important info like the wifi password, a map of the surroundings, etc. So you can be sure that your service is always on the highest level. And because of that you will get on average 20% better ratings than other hosts.

Synchronize prices and minimum stays

A channel management system also helps you change minimum stays and pricing. All you have to do is enter your base price and the per-night rates on Airbnb, Booking.com, etc. will be calculated automatically. This is because each booking platform charges a different percentage as commission for bookings. This way you can use smart markups to unify the prices on the different portals.

The advantage: You only have to change the price once and do not have to log into each portal individually. The Channel Manager then sends the adjusted price to the booking portals.

You are not sure what the prices are at the competition in your area? Then you can create your rates dynamically via special providers and have them automatically adjusted to the prices in the vicinity of your vacation rental. So you have no sales effort and still increase your revenue.

Statistics: Evaluate and improve the occupancy of your holiday accommodation

A Channel Manager prepares all data from all portals clearly for you. You can see your occupancy and revenues per portal and optimize your rental business across platforms. The central administration makes it easier to add further portals. This way you can increase your reach and optimize the occupancy rate of your properties.

How much does a Channel Manager for vacation rentals cost?

A good Channel Manager is available for less than 25 USD / 20 GBP/EUR  per month. We at Smoobu want to offer a simple, transparent and affordable pricing model for a complete software. The price is only 22 USD / 18 GBP / 19 EUR per month for one accommodation. For each additional one we add 6 USD / 4 GBP / 5 EUR on top. There is even a discount for annual subscriptions. All other Smoobu tools like the website builder or the guest guide are also included in the price.

However, this is not the case everywhere: in addition to providers who charge fixed rentals, there are also providers who earn their money with booking-based commissions. Almost always, the fixed price models are much cheaper, as commissions do not allow efficient scaling and permanently reduce the margin.

In addition, some providers charge setup fees. This not only makes objective testing difficult, but also shows that a lot has to be done manually and that the product is likely to be complicated to use. Some even charge extra for each interface, which of course goes against the interests of the host.

Above all, you have to be careful not to compare apples and oranges. Some providers offer the Channel Manager at a low price, but then charge additional fees for other components of the software, which are, however, absolutely necessary. Or you even have to buy a suitable management tool or PMS (Property Management System) from a third party provider. Both lead to the actual costs being many times higher than the pure Channel Manager price.

Conclusion: These are the advantages of a good Channel Manager

The channel management software takes manual work off your hands and you have more time to focus on the most important thing. Your guests. You can automate many things and still increase your revenue.

A good Channel Manager has many advantages. When choosing one, make sure that it has API connection to the most important booking portals and online travel agencies. For example, Smoobu is a preferred software partner of Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and many other booking sites or marketplaces for vacation rentals. This way, you always have an overview of the bookings of your vacation rental apartments or vacation rental homes and avoid double bookings. You can also make price changes quickly and do not have to log in to each portal individually.

Would you like to try a Channel Manager for free? Try Smoobu now for 14 days completely free of charge.

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