More and more, the vacation rental industry is migrating to the hotels model of global distribution systems and shared inventory across multiple networks. But as these systems evolve, the same growing pains felt by the hotel industry in their GDS infancy can be seen in the vacation rental industry, too.
While the most common issue of overbooking in a hotel can be reasonably easily dealt with by a room change (or even hotel change), the same cannot be said of vacation rentals, where an apartment or house has been selected due to specific characteristics or location, and is not as easily changed for a similar abode. So how can this and the other issues facing the vacation rentals industry be dealt with by using a channel management solution?
Through a channel manager, vacation rental managers can ensure that property availabilities are synced in real time across all their marketing channels. This helps in so many ways; before such technology was available, updating availability on just one or two channels in addition to your own vacation rental website was a time-consuming, manual task. Once a channel manager takes care of updating availability, rental managers can focus their attention on driving more bookings and not deal with angry customers and owners, enraged by double bookings and lost revenue.
Customer satisfaction is obviously a crucial retention factor, and as such ensuring up-to-date availability is one easy basic way to ensure that a customer does not have to search around and can book as soon as they find the property they are looking for; it’s so frustrating and disappointing for the client to set their heart on a property, only to be told it is, in fact, booked. A channel manger can ensure real time availability, and in turn ensure customer confidence and satisfaction.
Sync property content
Another time-saving innovation is that of the synchronization of property content. Having to manually update a few new photos for a certain property can be a mornings work, but thanks to a channel manager, you simply upload the photos and new description once in your backend, then simply relax as the channel manger distributes this information across your advertising network; no manual updates and constantly up-to-date information on all your advertising listings. This is another factor that can really help to improve customer confidence; if they booked a certain property to benefit from, for example, a swimming pool, only to find that this feature was closed months previously, it will generate an unhappy customer and damage retention rates. But through a channel manager, these updates and changes are instantly communicated with your advertising channels, avoiding this issue entirely.
Pricing is one of the key battlefields of the vacation rental industry, and nothing angers a customer more than finding a “bargain” property on a portal site, only to be quoted an inflated price when they contact the agency. By synchronizing prices between your website and your portals, you can ensure that the data your clients (and potential clients) are seeing is up-to-date and accurate. This will free up time and energy to spend driving more bookings and maximizing the potential of your marketing efforts, rather than getting bogged-down with manual data entry.
Take instant bookings
An easy way to boost your booking volumes and increase revenue is to allow bookings to be taken on other sites. And thanks to a channel manger, you can ensure the availability is accurate and take bookings and payments in real time from other sites. Inquiries are an excellent way to interact with your customers and leads, but when the client has their mind made up, it’s great for them to be able to convert there and then on the site they have found the property, rather than engage in a long dialogue and potential become distracted by other offers. Allowing other sites to book inventory and then send these reservation in real-time through the channel manager is an excellent way to increase marketing reach and boost booking volumes.
As the industry continues to grow at such a rapid rate, the use of channel managers by vacation rental agencies will become more and more prevalent, and with time saving feature and user-experience improving features, it’s not hard to see why. Syncing availability, price, content and allowing clients to book on other sites is an excellent way to boost bookings and ensure that the online presence of a vacation rental agency is constantly updated.
If you are interested in a Channel Management solution be sure to check out Kigo's Reservation System with Channel Management integration. Promote your properties on 30+ portals and hundreds of vacation rental agency websites. Request a free and instructive demo now!