Business travel is back. According to a recent Hilton trends report, 46% of global workers plan to travel for business in 2024, rising to 53% for Millenial and Gen Z employees. What’s more, over a third of Millenial and Gen Z business travellers intend to extend their stay for leisure purposes.
For serviced apartments, where corporate travel accounts for 80% of custom, this is undoubtedly great news, but also poses a question: how do we attract this new influx of business guests? With a channel manager, of course.
A serviced apartment channel manager connects your pricing and availability to a range of online travel agents (OTAs) and distribution channels. But not all channel managers function the same way. Follow these 5 channel manager tips to boost your business travel bookings (and profits) in 2024.
- Synchronise your channel manager and booking system
Like macaroni and cheese, your channel manager and booking system are great individually, but better together. When synchronised, your property managers can not only view all booking and listing details in real-time, but also push new rates or unit photos out to multiple sites in a few clicks. When a booking is made on one site, it’s automatically logged in your property management system and updates availability across all other channels.
This synchronicity frees up managers’ time to focus on guest experience, minimises human errors (i.e. typing in the wrong details), cuts out double-bookings and increases your chances of max occupancy (as guests can only book available apartments).
- Use dynamic pricing to get the most bang for your buck
How do you currently set your unit rates? Is it a once-a-year ‘set and forget’ price or do you regularly monitor competitor prices, scout out regional occupancy levels, and change rates depending on demand and supply variations?
Dynamic pricing tools analyse your booking data (i.e. lead-time, seasonal popularity and previous guest preferences) and examine local competitors’ rates for that exact moment in time, before pushing optimised rates to multiple sites automatically through your channel manager. Modified on a daily basis, dynamic pricing ensures you’re always getting the most value for your units without having to lift a finger.
- Target your ideal customer profile
There’s a reason that channel managers send out listings to multiple sites: not all guests use the same channels. From large OTAs like Booking.com and Airbnb to corporate housing specialists Silverdoor and long-stay maestros Rightmove, advertising your units on multiple sites spreads awareness of your brand and increases booking potential.
But you can also use a channel manager to target sites where you have lots of traction. A decent channel manager should provide analytics on the number of bookings you receive through each channel. You can then leverage this data to adopt distinct marketing tactics for particular sites (i.e. launching special offers or increasing paid advertising spend) to improve your properties’ visibility with more qualified leads. This is especially useful if you have a niche USP (i.e. a wellness-focused serviced apartment in a rural setting) or cater for families and extended stay (i.e. targeted offers on family sites for business trip extensions).
- Leverage big players marketing budget and brand recognition
However, don’t ignore the big players. OTAs are serviced apartment operators’ biggest channel for bookings (36%) with Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com dominating the market in the US and Europe (Expedia and Booking.com account for 60% of online travel bookings). This jostle for market supremacy can benefit your bookings in two ways.
First, major OTAs have huge marketing budgets (i.e. Booking.com spent $6 billion on marketing last year) to entice guests to use their search. If you’re listed on their sites, you directly benefit from their marketing spend. Second, large OTAs are also investing into user experience, so customers can better find what they’re looking for (i.e. you).
- Use your channel manager as a lead generator for your own site
Ever scrolled down Booking.com, seen a deal, checked out the hotel’s website and made the booking there instead? Of course you have. Many people use travel agency sites as a catalogue to browse accommodation options, but prefer to book directly - either for the instant connection with the operator or for better prices.
Given 28% of corporate bookings are made on operators’ own websites, you should ensure your website perfectly dovetails your channel manager. From providing a slick quote portal, which answers queries in less than 60 seconds and sends personalised quotes of your units via email, to hosting a branded booking portal, which is simple to use and offers ‘pay later’ terms for corporate travel, your channel manager can help your snare OTA guests without the commission fee.
Use an all-in-one PMS
Channel manager. Booking software. Quote portal. Dynamic pricing. Instead of adding each tool to your PMS individually, why not use a PMS that integrates all of these features already?
At res:harmonics, our channel manager is synced with channels - from major OTAs like Expedia to serviced apartment specialists like Homeaway - and also provides a range of dashboard analytics to make it easier to attract corporate travel custom.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Serviced Apartment Property Management Software to find out more about how to use a PMS for your serviced apartment business.