Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have made huge inroads in the tour and activity sector. Tour operators now add several OTAs to the distribution mix to get their products in front of a global audience and increase their online visibility.
However, if there is no effective tool for distribution channel management, keeping track of inventory, bookings, and revenue across the board will be a daunting task. That’s where an online booking system equipped with a channel manager feature becomes important.
An online booking system with a channel manager makes the work easier for tour and activity operators as it syncs the rates and availability across multiple online travel agencies. It synchronizes your inventory in real time to more OTAs—something that’s challenging to do manually.
What is a Channel Manager?
As part of your distribution strategy, you sell your tours, activities, and experiences through various sales channels, including OTAs. Once you enable OTA partnerships, how do you keep track of sales in real time? Do you keep long-cut off times to process bookings in the back office? Do you struggle to avoid double booking?
Channel Manager is a tool within your online booking system that helps you solve these challenges.
Your online reservation software with a channel manager automates your supplier partnership with OTAs, ensuring a seamless workflow.
Channel Manager updates the system whenever there is a new booking or cancellation via a third-party seller. It facilitates live, real-time inventory management and automates transactions with resellers.
What Does a Channel Manager Do?
Channel manager is not something new. The hotel and accommodation management systems have been using channel managers for a long time.
When hotels list rooms on online channels, they manage their availability and reservations with the channel manager. It enabled connectivity with several online distribution channels at the same time, while also allowing the accommodation to know how many rooms were available on any day
Now, the online booking systems for tour operators have adopted the same tool to ease the workload for tour and activity operators. The OTA channel manager gives you the flexibility to manage all your OTA channels directly from your online booking system, offering you the same ability as hotels to sell your products on dozens of digital distributors.
Overbooking is a headache for suppliers when there are several OTAs in play. With its live, real-time inventory management, the channel manager can take care of that issue.
Enabling API connectivity with an OTA allows your online booking system to talk to the OTA’s system. It automatically maps new experiences to OTAs and sync activity details to ensure consistency across all channels. It means that the system updates the availability and booking details in real time.
Whenever a guest makes a booking, the system updates the inventory. The channel manager will reflect the updated booking status in real time. Even if you list your products on several OTAs at the same time, there are no chances of double bookings. And you no longer need to copy booking details from each OTA to your booking system.
Control Over your Inventory
When you have different OTAs as your distribution channels, you may have different rules for each OTA. For example, you may want to sell a limited inventory to one particular OTA and open up more of it to another OTA. If you’re going to do it manually, you may end up with a messy spreadsheet, loads of emails, and the inevitability of human error.
With a channel manager, you can do it effortlessly. Use the channel manager to choose activities and inventories available to OTAs and define when these activities can be sold.
Implement a cut-off period to limit amendments and cancellations and determine when guests can book or make edits to their booking pre-departure. It helps you effectively manage last-minute bookings and resource allocation.
The channel manager gives you a single dashboard to manage all your OTA connections in one central location. Sharing real-time inventory and managing them on one dashboard keep things simple when bookings roll in from various sales channels worldwide.
Moreover, the tool gives you better insights into sales and revenue from OTAs, making it easy to create reports. You get a better picture of sales channels that bring in more guests. And according to the sales performance, you can tweak your strategy.
If you want to rely more on a particular OTA for distribution, change your terms with them accordingly on channel manager and adjust your sales channels. The channel manager lets you decide on activities offered on your sales channels at any time during the year.
Automation of OTA bookings will make your life easy so that you can focus on your business and guests. So, your next obvious question will be…
Does Zaui have a Channel Manager?
Zaui Channel Manager allows tour and transport operators to manage their reselling channels, including OTAs and travel agents. Operators can decide the activities to be sold, cut-off times, or when guests can book or make edits to their booking pre-departure—all on Zaui channel manager.
Head over to our website to learn how Zaui Channel Manager helps tour and activity operators automate sales relationships and enable real-time inventory mapping.
If you want to skip that and see a demo right away to know more about automating OTA channel management, talk to our expert!