Choosing a free channel manager for your establishment may seem like an attractive opportunity to optimise your operations without adding to your budget. But the question is: what can you expect in terms of functionality? And is it really a good idea?
In this article, we’ll review the free channel managers available on the market and their features. We’ll also explore how this option compares to paid solutions, enabling you to make the best decision for your hotel.
What is a channel manager and what does he/she do for hotels?
A channel manager is an essential tool for a hotel looking to optimise its online presence and maximise its bookings. It acts as a central management platform, allowing you as a hotelier to manage your establishment’s rates, availability and inventory on different booking platforms, such as Booking, Expedia, Airbnb and many others.
The strength of the channel manager lies in its ability to automatically synchronise information between your reservation system and the various online distribution channels. This means that availability and rates are constantly updated in real time, avoiding the risk of overbooking or undercharging.
Thanks to this synchronisation, you can offer your customers accurate and consistent information on all platforms, reinforcing your reputation for reliability and professionalism.
A free channel manager, but for what functions?
So yes, the obvious advantage of a free channel manager is that it’s free. By choosing a free solution, you will reduce your operational budget. Avoiding the monthly costs of a paid channel management tool can seem very appealing, especially if you are a small organisation or an establishment just starting out.
But although free channel managers may seem attractive because they are free, they also have certain functional limitations that it is essential to consider before making your choice.
After analysing free channel managers such as hotelbee, jurny and effectivetours, we realise that the free offers they provide are freemium offers. In other words, they only offer you an entry-level version of their software.
The downside is that these solutions don’t actually offer any ‘channel manager’ functionality in their free package. All you have access to is a PMS, a mini site, a booking system and a few statistics.
What’s more, your performance is limited! These free channel managers offer you the above functions in limited mode. If you are a hotel with a lot of traffic or a lot of rooms and a lot of bookings, you can say goodbye to the idea of choosing these free channel managers.
There’s another solution: your.rentals. This free channel manager offers you all its features without a subscription fee! You will still have to pay, but only if you have bookings. This channel manager is paid on a commission basis.
This free channel manager may be of interest to you if you want to test the software as well as new acquisition channels.
Comparison with a paid channel manager
Choosing a paid channel manager rather than a free one can sometimes be better for your business and save you a lot of time.
Compared with a free channel manager, with a paid solution you will have access to advanced functions. Paid channel managers often come with features that far exceed those of free solutions.
You’ll also have better connectivity. Paid solutions such as Reservit, stayntouch or d-edge are often better integrated with other hotel systems such as Backyou, the Groups & Events management solution. This interconnection allows you to create a whole tech ecosystem to make it easier for you to manage your hotel on a day-to-day basis.
Paid channel managers offer the advantage of having a dedicated account manager available to answer your questions and resolve any problems quickly and efficiently. High-quality customer support can save you valuable time and ensure that your channel management system runs at optimum efficiency.
Tips for choosing the best channel manager for your establishment
Your establishment is unique, with its own characteristics, target clientele and commercial objectives. Before deciding on a channel manager, it’s essential to assess the specific needs of your business:
- Take into account the number of bedrooms you have
- Identify your target customers
- Define your commercial objectives
- Assess your workload
- Make sure the channel manager is compatible with your existing tools
- Take on a channel manager with contactable, responsive customer support in a language you understand
- Request a demo and a free trial to see how easy it is for you and your teams to use.
- Is the subscription with or without commitment?
To sum up, on the free channel manager
If you want a free channel manager, pay attention to the features on offer! Solutions that offer a freemium subscription generally don’t include any real “channel manager” functionality in their free offer. Otherwise, go for the free features on your.rentals.
On the other hand, if you are convinced that a channel manager is the right solution for your establishment, it would be wiser to opt for a paid channel manager, which will allow you to use advanced functions and also provide support for your project.
Before making a decision, we urge you to consider the advantages and limitations of each option. Take the time to compare.