What is the Difference Between a PMS and a Channel Manager?

There’s no way to ignore the critical role that technology plays in the hospitality industry. From nationwide hotel chains to quaint bed & breakfasts, owners and operators depend on the Internet to attract and serve their guests. Hotels need to offer comprehensive online booking systems so that lodgers have the smoothest and most convenient experience when booking their trips.

For an inexperienced hotel owner, however, this can be somewhat confusing. An automated reservation system can involve many components that each serve a unique and essential function. Having one without another means you most likely won’t reap the full benefits for your property.

For instance, two of the most essential elements of such a system are a property management system (PMS) and a property’s channel manager. When it comes to developing an effective online reservation system for a hotel, a PMS and a channel manager are very important tools. However, if you don’t understand what they do and how they work together, it can be difficult to get the most from your system. Keep reading to learn the basics about a property management system and a channel manager.

what is the difference between a pms and a channel manager text over graphic of two people looking at a computer

What is a Channel Manager?

A major part of managing online reservations is juggling the various platforms on which your property is listed. This includes not only your own website, but also online travel agencies (OTA) such as Tripadvisor and Expedia. Mismanaging these various outlets could create havoc if someone reserves a room on one platform and another individual books the same room on another.

The purpose of a channel manager is to ensure that all of these OTAs are updated simultaneously. Utilizing cloud computing technology, channel manager applications synchronize availability information automatically. Unlike an online booking engine application, this software does not accept reservations.

Another crucial function that channel managers serve is to keep your rates updated constantly across every website. Without this type of program managing your online presence, you would be forced to log into the portal for each OTA every time you took a reservation or changed your rates. If you had to do all of this manually, it is highly possible that some details would slip through the cracks. This could result in double bookings, missed revenue opportunities, and not a few unhappy customers.

grahic showing how data flows from the PMS to the channel manager to the OTAs and back, as well as PMS to the direct booking channels and back

What is a Property Management System?

A PMS is a powerful software tool for your front office. As the central application for managing your hotel’s everyday operations, a PMS can automate and simplify most of the day-to-day tasks that you and your staff perform. These tasks include accepting and modifying reservations; handling check-in and check-out functions; scheduling housekeeping activities; and managing POS outlets, gift certificates, reservation tasks, and more.

Not only can a robust PMS make it easier and faster to handle these jobs, but it also provides extremely valuable data that you can use to improve your performance. Tracking key performance indicators becomes a simple process of logging into your dashboard and calling up the latest reports at the end of each day. This can give you a clearer idea of what is working for you and where your operations could use some improvements.

How Can a PMS and a Channel Manager Work for You?

Each of these systems provide different functions and benefits for property owners and managers. Together, they work to streamline your operations and allow your staff to focus their attention on your guests. A PMS enables you to run and monitor your day-to-day tasks from a single source, taking the burden of tedious scheduling, paperwork, and inventory management off your shoulders. It also automates a number of jobs, such as emailing guests to confirm reservations and handling payments.

graphic showing ThinkReservations logo in the center with allows pointing out to the various OTA logos, representating the connections offered

On the other hand, a channel manager makes it possible for you to maintain up-to-date information about your available rooms and rates across multiple platforms. It keeps these details consistent anywhere online without the risks of human error or redundancies.

Bringing It All Together

Of course, the real benefits start to roll in when these apps are integrated into a comprehensive hotel reservation system. When they work together, you should gain a complete picture of who is staying with you at any given time, how they found you, and what their needs are. ThinkReservations provides software that combines these and many other critical functions into one seamless system.

Our offerings include property management system, channel manager, booking engine and more. We also have the knowledge and real-world lodging experience necessary to assist with channel manager integration. Our solutions are easy to use, reliable, and give you peace of mind knowing that they can handle most of the heavy lifting when it comes to managing and monitoring your inventory. To learn more about how we can help you make the most of this technology, get in touch with us today. We can’t wait to speak with you.

We look forward to helping you discover new ways to grow your business!

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