If you are a modern accommodation provider, you have most likely heard of the following software tools: channel managers, online booking systems, and property management software. These terms may be confusing and a bit overwhelming to those unfamiliar with the various tools and their applications, but they are a crucial part of an effective marketing strategy.

This article explains the key differences between a channel manager and an online booking system so you can determine which is best for you and your accommodation business.

What does a channel manager do?

Channel management is a company’s activities in organising its different distribution channels and selling effectively through them, according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

A channel management software lists your property on a wide range of booking sites, to ensure you can be found by many travellers around the world. In 2015, more than half of hotel bookings were made on OTA websites. It is increasingly important to make sure your property is visible to travellers on various sites, and using a channel manager is an easy way to achieve these results.

Channel manager’s purpose

A channel manager is in charge of the following operational functions:

  • Distributes availability, either being rooms, inventory, seats, to third-party sites
  • Manages bookings and inventory on various sites, including online travel agencies (OTAs), local and state tourism websites, and other relevant sites

Channel managers are responsible for ensuring that no units are double-booked.

In addition to maintaining the appropriate reservations for your accommodation, a channel manager has the added benefit of minimising administrative work. Rather than managing your holiday home, hotel, tour operations or B&B from separate sites to make changes, a channel manager allows you to manage everything from one central location.

Channel manager vs. online booking system

There are a few key differences between the main types of accommodation booking systems. The two types of software work in conjunction with one another to simplify management of your hotel, holiday home, or bed and breakfast.

What does a booking system do?

Now that you know what a channel manager does let us look at how booking systems work.

A booking system, also known as a booking engine, is a separate software application that deals with the payment side of booking.

Booking engines are in charge of the following activities:

  • Processing payment for accommodation/services on your site
  • Allowing customers to book and pay instantly

Booking engines allow travellers to process payment for your accommodation or tourism offerings. Payment can be submitted on your website and in other locations, such as your business’ social media pages.

Booking systems process payments securely, and typically accept credit cards as well as PayPal.

Why you need a booking system, not just a channel manager

Channel managers and booking systems are crucial to 21st century accommodation management. Though they are beneficial when used separately, they become even more powerful when used in tandem.

Booking systems are a very valuable addition to channel managers. On their own, channel managers relieve you of time-consuming, unnecessary administrative duties. When combined with booking engines, they become even more valuable; freeing up your time and giving you more time to focus on more important matters.

Is there an all in one solution?

Luckily for accommodation and tourism industry operators, there is a package deal with everything necessary for managing your bookings. A Property Management System (PMS) combines the functionality of channel managers and booking engines.

A PMS facilitates:

  • Online marketing
  • Payment and other online operations
  • Online distribution
  • Day-to-day activity management

If you are looking for a solution to help you enhance the management of your property, a property management system is your best bet. Designed for managers with little time and small to medium operations, a PMS is an easy, cost-effective way to increase bookings and decrease administrative tasks.

Rather than using a mix of separate software systems, opt for an all-in-one solution for your reservation management.

Rezobx is a dedicated property management system for small hotels, holiday homes, B&Bs, and tourism businesses. If you would like to improve the distribution and management of your business, get a free trial of Rezobx today.