A channel manager is a software solution for short-term rental hosts that allows you to automatically update rates, availability and other property details across multiple booking platforms simultaneously.
Channel managers are powered by connections called application programming interfaces (API) that allows hosts to use a single dashboard to seamlessly manage their listing on sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com and Google Vacation Rentals.
There are dozens of channel managers on the market, all making the same promises to property owners: That their specific solution can help owners save time, reduce booking mistakes and increase revenue. However, only channel managers that offer a core set of features can deliver on those promises.
The most important features of a channel manager include:
If even one of booking platforms where you plan to list is missing from a channel manager’s integration list, the tool will not be effective for your short-term rental operation.
Chasing down payments from guests and tracking OTA commissions is one of the most frustrating parts of running a short-term rental — but a good channel manager will handle the process for you.
Cancellations will always be unpleasant for the guest, the host or both parties in a short-term rental agreement, but channel managers help take away the hassle of issuing refunds. When a reservation is canceled through a booking platform, a channel manager can automatically release those dates on availability calendars across all platforms while issuing the appropriate refund to the guest.
The best channel managers eliminate the need for short-term rental hosts to bookmark dozens of webpages in order to manage their short-term rental property. Channel manager dashboards allow hosts to update pricing and availability, communicate with guests and track payments from a single location.
An international guest is more likely to book your property if the description is available in their native language or the nightly rate is displayed in their preferred currency. A strong channel manager offers flexible currencies and languages.
Most channel managers help hosts track their listings across several platforms, but the best ones help hosts build their own platform for direct bookings.
The benefits of using a channel manager are clear, but how do you choose the best one for your short-term rental business?
Start by making a list of the features you care about most, and then research which channel managers will meet your needs. If you are still struggling to decide, there are a few other factors you can compare to help you make a decision.
Listing platforms already charge enough in service fees, so no short-term rental host wants to see another chunk of their revenue disappear for channel manager fees. Channel managers charge for their services in different ways. Some charge a fixed fee based on each booking or each platform, while others offer a monthly subscription model. The channel managers that are most in-tune with the needs of property managers do not charge a fee to hosts and instead work the cost of services into nightly rates or guest fees.
No one can relate to the challenges you face as a short-term rental host more than other property owners. Their input could be helpful when choosing a channel manager. Look for authentic testimonials and reviews before signing up for a service.
A channel manager should integrate seamlessly with each of the major OTAs: Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com and Google Vacation Rentals. You should also consider the quality of the connection. If a channel manager only connects to the calendar of one platform and the message inbox of another, it may not be a good fit after all.
Connecting a channel manager with your existing accounts on various booking platforms should happen instantly and without any interruption to your short-term rental operations. In the best case scenario, you won’t need to contact customer service but the option to receive quick and friendly support should be available.
Futurestay OS is more than a channel manager, it is an entire operating system that helps automate every step of the short-term rental process so property managers can focus on what matters: Providing great service to guests while growing their business.
Futurestay’s Instant Activation finds your properties where they’re currently listed and brings them together into a single dashboard so you can manage pricing, calendars, reservations and more without the need to cycle between dozens of open tabs in your browser. Smart Connection automation makes it easy to accept booking requests and complete a successful stay by running credit card payments (and tracking down the ones that failed), modifying reservations, issuing refunds when necessary and tracking commissions owed to various booking platforms.
In addition to automating a property manager’s most time-consuming tasks, Futurestay provides a full toolkit to short-term rental hosts that help them establish and grow their brand and build trust among guests.
Automated guest communications ensure that a guest is always up-to-date about their reservation status, check-in and check-out details and more. Futurestay sends branded messages on your behalf that your guests will truly appreciate.
The most powerful Futurestay feature is one that has the potential to increase short-term rental revenue significantly: Branded websites for direct booking. The mobile-friendly website includes unlimited pages that are already optimized for search engines and include photo galleries, interactive maps and directions and detailed information about you and your property. Your direct booking website is connected to your Futurestay dashboard, so the pricing and availability is automatically updated with your other listings.
The streamlined and secure Futurestay booking engine is already connected to Google Vacation Rentals (Futurestay is one of the only trusted software providers that allows independent property owners to add their listing to Google), which results in more direct bookings for your property. With the support of Futurestay, property owners can leverage the world’s top search engine to help more travelers discover their property. Anytime a user clicks “Book Now” from Google Vacation Rentals, they’re sent to your custom Futurestay page to complete their direct booking.
You and your guests will never pay a fee or commission for Futurestay services — instead, the cost is automatically added as a 5 percent markup to your nightly rate.
Get more bookings with less stress by signing up for Futurestay