What’s in a Number???
When looking at a new Channel Manager, does a higher number of connected OTA’s and clients actually mean one is better than the other?
These days there are a higher number of Channel Managers than ever in the market, some global, some regional but trying to get to be global and a high number of local or single country/locally based operations – Though to be honest, the ability to work in the cloud can often cause you to lose track of where the person you are dealing with actually is. There is also now a growth in single source solutions that give you a Booking Engine, Channel Manager, PMS, Reputation Managers, Pricing Monitors, Website Design, SEO, Marketing and more….All you need under one roof.
The one thing that seems to unite them is that they will all try to show their number of connected channels and the number of client hotels as an example of their ability and strength – But is that really what you should look at when choosing?
It’s true that it can be said that the number of connected OTA’s can show that they are a big player in the market and to be taken seriously with the technical capability to deliver a huge number of connections but then who is really going to connect to all of those channels? – 800+ as claimed by one Channel Manager (albeit some of these being regional and specialised).Most Hotels will connect to between 5-10 key OTA’s and maybe try a few new ones if they feel it will help boost bookings and revenue. This again depends on the flexibility of the Channel Manager and the costs to connect to a new channel.
The counter argument to that could be given as them spreading themselves too thinly when supporting all these channels and a high volume of clients – Depending of course on their organisation and customer support set ups! Having a huge number of OTA’s to connect to and a huge portfolio of clients to brag about means nothing if the platform is unstable, you can’t raise support issues & get replies quickly and eventually this ends up with over-bookings or unsold inventory.
Here at Revchoices our aim over the coming months (as we develop our site), will not only be to help you to get a clear picture of the vendors plus what the actual users think of them (from the point of view of ease of use, value for money, stability and more) but also to provide a single point of information to guide you through the maze of possible suppliers. Remember that Hotels are marked, checked, and reviewed every day…so why not expect the products you use to take bookings and support the guest experience to undergo the same?
So what’s our own take on which you should choose – Well we would say it’s a case of choosing the best one that suites you as a localised supplier might give you what you need right now just as well as a global name but we would say that you should at least look at the following:
- Choose one that has the features and facilities you actually need and some that will help you grow and develop, not a long list of functions that might be great to tell people it has but to be truthful…you just won’t ever use.
- Has support that’s there when you need it – Remember this system will be mission critical and not being able to speak to someone to solve a technical issue at the right time could be extremely costly not only financially but to your valuable reputation.
- Yes, that’s connected to OTA’s…but the ones you actually need not a huge list of ones you won’t ever look at….Write a list of the ones you need, the ones that you may want to try and use that as you minimum list of required connections. Any that don’t have these then you discount for now.
- Remember one size doesn’t fit all! Could you be better looking at a separate Booking Engine which works to improve your direct bookings? All the Channel Managers say they work on this but in truth they don’t focus on it like a focussed Booking engine with SEO and Marketing packages – This is their bread and butter. But be careful to make sure that the Channel Manager you choose works with the Booking engine you are looking at!
- Compare pricing but remember features – The cheapest isn’t always going to be the best one. Yes we all have to be cost conscious but actually a few more Pounds, Dollars or Euros a month now may actually bring in a better benefit overall in the long run – Ask to speak to actual clients to get feedback and help weigh up the options but be careful: All the vendors have “pet” clients that are doing well with them that they will send their prospective new sign ups to, ask for several to speak to but also ask around locally what other hoteliers think and what their experience of the support has been.
- Remember that you might be expected to be under contract for 1,2 or 3 years so check out what the “get out” clauses and timescales are if you aren’t happy with the service and want to move – There are some suppliers we know who don’t expect you to be locked into a contract but will actually trust that the products and service they give you will be of a standard that you won’t want to look at leaving.
- People Count – It’s still as true today as it’s ever been that it’s dealing with good people that makes any relationship work, even if there are hick ups and issues (and there will be!) – It’s sometimes knowing that you have the right contacts and that you trust them to sort the problems that make you choose a supplier and stick with them so sometimes it’s good to trust your instincts….
So there’s a lot to think about but for now remember that not only will you be able to see what other hoteliers think of the products out there but also you will be able to help them by giving feedback on the ones that you have used……at RevChoices!