Channel management is a service which connects your booking channels into one management system. For example you could manage your laterooms and booking.com rates and availability from one system, this is called channel management.
We are always looking for new ways to increase exposure and bookings for clients so we are very happy to announce we have just completed a full integration with Agoda. They are one of Asia’s leading hotel booking sites and growing very rapidly elsewhere…. all are very good reasons to connect with them.
– a simple and quick registration process via the PLUS tab in freetobook.
– additional bookings from the fast growing Asian markets through the regional market leader.
– a competitive commission rate – all pre-paid by customers meaning low cancellation %.
– increased exposure with their targeted promotions and weekly newsletters (going to 7 million members in 25 languages).
We are really happy to say that our experience thus far of Agoda has been nothing but positive, they are very focused, efficient and friendly.
Freetobook is proud to have been awarded Preferred IT Provider status with Booking.com
Great Technology doesn’t just happen ! Its also rather difficult to describe but when you see it, when you use it, you just know its good. At freetobook we take considerable pride in our work and our booking system solutions are renowned for their time saving functionality and their ease of use.
Along the way we work with many technology companies and there is none more switched on to the internet and the way online booking should work than Booking.com. This is why they sell more than 500,000 room nights every 24 hours and work with over 368,000 properties in 190 countries.
From our experience most of the worlds accommodation owners are looking for ways to get more connected and enjoy more distribution, at freetobook we get this message and so does booking.com.
In business great companies will seek each other out to work together, we enjoy working with the best in the booking world and are also very proud to have it recognised in the preferred IT provider status awarded by booking.com
Make no mistake, TripAdvisor is a booking website.
It started off being only about reviews. But you just have to browse it for a few minutes these days as a customer to see that it’s encouraging you to check availability and make online bookings at every turn.
How has this come about? Over the last six months or so, TripAdvisor have been busy developing software that can connect rates and availability to a vast array of booking systems and online travel agents. These links facilitate live rates, availability and booking on TripAdvisor itself. It’s pretty clear (to us at least) that they want every property in the world to be bookable on their website and to do this they have made the connections to as wide a variety of systems as possible.
What does this mean to property owners? Well, one thing is certain: if you don’t have some way to feed your rates and availability to TripAdvisor, you will lose bookings to properties that can. You will not be included in many of the searches customers perform on TripAdvisor and this means that you, the unconnected, will lose bookings to the connected. To win, you have to make sure you are one of the connected.
There is no excuse for missing out. Because TripAdvisor has connected with a massive range of booking engines, every property in the world will be able to get bookings from it. You only have to pick a system and get online. As for cost, TripAdvisor will charge on a pay-per-click basis for clicks through to whichever booking engine you’ve chosen.
So don’t let any more TripAdvisor bookings slip through your fingers or leak out to the property nearby. Get connected via freetobook today.
Is overbooking a sign of marketing success, process failure or just bad luck?
There’s a real stigma attached to over/double booking. Why?
Is it the failure to deliver on a personal promise made to your customer?
Or is it the fear of your contractual obligation once a booking has been made?
In these days of litigious customers and a compensation “culture”, it’s no wonder that small businesses err on the side of caution. These valid concerns appeal to our most human of instincts: fear. Yet when you de-construct the problem, it’s not as bad as looks!
Most businesses need to maximise their chances of getting bookings and the most effective place for this is online. The more places you can be found and booked, the more bookings you are likely to attract. But by increasing your exposure online you may also increase the risk of double booking.
Many businesses have held back from maximising their online advertising for fear of double or overbooking. There must be thousands of lost bookings every night because businesses don’t feel confident offering their full availability.
So if you sell across a variety of places online (i.e. channels like Booking.com, Bed & Breakfast websites etc.) then you need to ensure various systems are kept in sync. It’s time consuming and can be a stressful process.
One option is to show only a selection of rooms on each channel, so they are distinct and when they run out they can’t overbook. It’s not very efficient and you need to know what channels will sell what rooms best and when.
Another solution is to have your booking system linked to your various sales websites (or channels), so that your one diary keeps all the other channels up-to-date. This means any phone bookings you add to your diary update all the channels and any website bookings automatically appear in your diary. This technology is usually called “channel management”.
When you consider the benefits of extra exposure, additional bookings and time saved updating various sites – not to mention the end of all that worrying – channel management can represent great value. Ideally you want a channel manager that works with the key channels, is flexible and isn’t too expensive. There are some clever “pay-as-you-go” options available where you pay according to the number of bookings you receive.
This technology can free up a lot of time and allow you to disappear for the odd week (or longer) without having to take the mobile phone and diary with you!
Even if you don’t go for any of the above options, I would stress that the fear of an overbooking should not stop you selling your rooms.
After all, the definition of overbooking is the deliberate practice of hotels to take more bookings than they can accommodate in order to avoid empty rooms, on the basis that there will be no-shows and cancellations.
This is hardly a claim that could reasonably be levelled at a B&B or guest house. Most customers, if contacted quickly, will understand that with modern technology it’s a rare possibility and not a result of negligence or greed on your part.
That’s a different story if you are a large hotel that regularly overbooks and then “bumps” or “moves” a customer on arrival and just blames someone else! Been there and got the scars to show it!
One of the most exciting things on the horizon for freetobook is our new connection with VisitScotland.
VisitScotland has a new accommodation search system that allows all B&Bs, guest houses, small hotels etc in Scotland to be displayed regardless of their relationship with VisitScotland itself (this is known as a “polling” system).
What this means is that very soon all Scottish freetobook properties will be able have their rates and availability appearing on VisitScotland’s site whenever a prospective customer does an accommodation search.
1st June is the current “go live” date for VisitScotland’s new system. Keep checking our blog for further details and updates.
We have recently completed an integration with TripAdvisor to enable Freetobook customers to advertise on their TripAdvisor (TA) page. We believe this makes good
business sense because potential customers visiting your TA page are at a late stage in the purchasing cycle – in other words they are ready to buy, a perfect time to advertise your direct link to them.
As part of our service, Freetobook provides an interface to show how many clicks/searches you have paid for and which bookings have resulted from the clicks.
This keeps you in control and gives you the information you need to calculate your profit from advertising on your TA page. The graphs and figures are easy to read and monitor.
What does the new TripAdvisor upgrade mean to the “Show Prices” button ?
TripAdvisor call this upgrade their “meta interface” and it has some big advantages over their older system. Show Prices button is clicked by customers after they have put in their desired dates.
A neat interface showing customers your available rates on searched dates as provided by various suppliers.
If you are not available (sold out or closed) you will not show on the list and therefore no click charge can occur from the “Show Prices” button.
You only pay when the customer clicks the (Book) button
See an example of the new “meta interface” page below.
Clearly this has major advantages to advertisers. You will not pay if the customer is searching for dates when you are full or closed, nor will you pay if they are speculatively checking rates and availability. You only pay if the customer clicks on the (Book) button. Obviously a click on a (Book) button is far more valuable than a click on a (Show Prices) button.
With the new “meta interface” (live API) click prices will be higher than for the old system but the number of clicks will be far lower. There will also be a different price for TripAdvisor’s mobile pages. We are currently busy completing the new integration to the “meta interface” which we are confident will be a great benefit to freetobook customers.
The Meta Interface page is fed by the live API. A customer will see this when they enter dates and click the (Show Prices) button.
Meta Interface TripAdvisor live API results (example)
1) The top 4 advertisers with a live API are shown in Cost Per Click price order
2) The top paying advertiser (Expedia in this case) is highlighted with a bigger box, different coloured ‘book’ button, one additional room type shown and a marketing tagline (in this case “120,000 hotels all over the world”) which is provided by the partner
3) Other advertisers with an API who are not in the top 4 show at the bottom with a price
4) Advertisers without an API show at the bottom as a text link
5) Advertisers with an API who did not have availability show, but you are not able to click on them (in this case LateRooms)
Case Study: Freetobook’s channel manager brings more bookings to Ardgye House B&B in Elgin.
In the current economy, many independent accommodation providers know all too well the importance of getting new business. It’s a challenge, especially if you can’t afford expensive campaigns or newspaper advertising. Freetobook now offers some help: an easy-to-manage connection to LateRooms and Booking.com, which allows you to update your availability on both those sites quickly and easily via your Freetobook diary.
It’s true that some property owners are still wary of LateRooms and Booking.com, concerned that the commission charged by these Online Travel Agents will erase their profit margin. But experience has shown that many accommodation owners who take the plunge really benefit from the increased exposure. The internet is just so big and managing to get your property in front of the customer at the right time is no easy task.
One Freetobook customer who has definitely benefited from the extra exposure is Kerry McInnes, who runs the 4-star Ardgye House in Elgin. A beautiful 5-room Edwardian property, built in 1904, the Ardgye has been welcoming guests for over 20 years. It boasts sumptuous Family, Twin and King Rooms and is rated #1 on TripAdvisor for Elgin B&Bs/Inns. None the less, Kerry had noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to compete for attention in an online world where paid results dominate the first page of any accommodation search.
Already offering online booking with Freetobook software, Kerry decided to integrate with LateRooms via company’s channel manager.
“We’ve always been successful and we have a great reputation. We get a lot of bookings from the RAF at Lossiemouth and the Royal Engineers at Kinloss. We’re also very popular with German tourists visiting Scotland. But as with a lot of properties these days, it has become harder and harder for us to be ‘found,’” says Kerry. “The main thing that attracted us to LateRooms was their huge advertising spend. We realised that we could piggyback on that to become much more visible to potential guests. The Freetobook system’s channel manager allowed the integration to be done quickly and easily. It really couldn’t have been simpler.”
Kerry is well aware that some accommodation owners feel they’ll lose money on booking by going down this route, but she doesn’t share that view.
“I don’t see a LateRooms booking as 15% lost in commission, I see it as 85% gained on a booking I wouldn’t otherwise have got,” she points out. “I’m also noticing that guests who book through LateRooms the first time are becoming repeat customers who book with us direct on subsequent occasions, now that they know we exist.”
And although Kerry has only been offering LateRooms availability for a short time, she has already seen the benefits: “LateRooms bookings are up by a third since we integrated via Freetobook. We’re much busier than we were before and we are starting to see a pick-up in direct bookings too. Pretty soon we’re looking to integrate with Booking.com via Freetobook as well.”
We all know that in the current economy every extra booking is precious. We also know that an accommodation owner’s time is valuable. There are always a million things to do and not nearly enough time to do them in. With that in mind, freetobook now offers you a channel manager that allows you to connect to Booking.com and LateRooms and update them direct from your freetobook diary.
Thanks to this new functionality, you’ll no longer have to update lots of different systems. One diary will automatically update them all so you can never go over-booked. It’ll also allow you to alter room rates across different sales channels from one place. And each time a booking is made, it will go straight into your diary with all the customer details (phone, email, and prices) captured.
Not only will this new functionality save you time and increase room sales, it will also increase your exposure via the world’s leading booking websites and eliminate the worry of double bookings.
To find out more about how our new channel manager works and all the benefits it can bring you, go here.