iCal or Channel Manager to avoid overbooking your hotel or bed and breakfast
Digital Marketing Video Tutorial

Using iCal or Channel Manager to avoid overbooking your Bnb or Hotel?

Using iCal or Channel Manager?

I have been on the wrong side of an overbooking experience, and it is one I would not wish others to endure.  It is frustrating and a massive inconvenience for both the guest and the host to find a resolution.  So, what is the answer? What about avoiding the overbooking in the first place!

The issue is usually related to using several channels to accept booking simultaneously.  The popularity of online travel agencies (OTAs) has made this reality even more prevalent.  Implementing the right technology to sync your booking across the different platforms will go far in avoiding overbooking and administrative work.

The two most recommended applications to avoid vacation rental overbooking are iCal, which is free to use, and channel management systems (channel manager) usually based on a monthly subscription model. They’ll help you increase your operational efficiency, no more manual errors, and ultimately reduce overbooking.

We have highlighted the key benefits of iCal and channel management systems so you can pick the application that is best for your property.

In the example used in the video tutorial above the MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin was used to link to Airbnb using the iCal feature.  This example is a continuation from the step by step tutorial to build entire hotel booking website from scratch. 

What is iCal?

iCal is a computer file format for storing calendar information.  It is not to be confused with Apple’s Calendar application, which was previously called iCal.  Some of the calendaring information typically stored events, to-dos, journal entries, and free/busy information.  As it relates to hospitality, iCal is used to store reservation information.  For example, you are operating a hotel with 20 rooms listed on your website, Airbnb, and Bookings.com, iCal can be used to synchronize all bookings across the three channels.  As a result, if someone books a room on Airbnb, then your availability will update on all three platforms, reducing manual tasks and preventing overbooking.

What are the benefits of using iCal?

  1. iCal is free to use on your website and the other online travel agencies.
  2. Using iCal will reduce the number of manual entries, which will save you time.
  3. It will help you reduce the inconvenience of overbooking since visitors will see the same availability calendars when synchronized.

What to consider before choosing iCal

  1. Delays vary based on online travel agencies, which could be as small as 2 minutes or hours in some cases. Therefore, there is a possibility of overbooking during these delays, especially if there is a high frequency of bookings.
  2. Limited booking details brought over in the iCal information. The availability will be updated, but you are not guaranteed to receive information such as a guest name or number of guests.
  3. It can be susceptible to mix-ups and can get complicated if you are using iCal to support vast quantities of room inventory. Such as with Airbnb, you will need to add a new listing for each space you want to rent and, consequently, a separate calendar for all rental property listed.

What’s a Channel Manager

A channel manager is a tool that allows property managers and owners to efficiently manage different online distribution channels such as your website, online travel agencies (OTAs), Wholesalers, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) & more.

What are the benefits of using a Channel Manager?

  1. You can expect to receive faster syncing time or real-time updates between all your channels
  2. Automatically updating booking details such as rates, availability, and guest information. Therefore, you can see the guest names, dates of arrival, and what rooms they booked all in one place irrespective of the channel they made the reservation.
  3. You will benefit from increased visibility of seamlessly advertising on a lot more advertising channels while you only have the input your information once.

What to consider before choosing a channel manager

  1. Channels managers are going to cost you a monthly subscription in most cases. In other instances, channel managers charges on a transaction basis, which incurs a fee for every booking.
  2. Some channel managers charge a fee for cancellation made, which can add up if you are a small property manager.
  3. Channel managers may offer just the basics or, based on your needs, can be integrated with complete property management and front office system

Recommended Channel Managers

  • Myallocator by Cloudbeds: A channel manager is a go-to option for hostels and manager other rental property owners.  It provides features such as synchronization with a wide range of online marketplaces as well as push real-time updates to OTAs and PMS. 
  • Siteminder (Channel Manager): more than 35,000 hoteliers rely on SiteMinder for unified channel management. Siteminder might be more suited for large to medium site operations to obtain guest and manage property operations.
  • Little Hotelier: this is an all-in-one property management system built specifically for bed and breakfast, guesthouses, and small hotels. The package provides an opportunity for property owners to advertise on over 400 channels and comes equipped with a mobile-friendly front desk system.

What tool is best for your vacation rental property?

The primary objective for small properties with a regular stream of bookings is to avoid overbooking. Therefore, iCal might suit them best to facilitate them selling rooms across multiple channels by blocking availability whenever someone books, notwithstanding at various sync times. As mentioned, using iCal will limit errors from manual entries and because it is free will work for owners on a small budget. Implementing iCal should be the next step beyond offline tools like excel and guest books before investing in channel management systems.

Owners of large vacation properties use several channels to accept bookings in higher volumes and various specials affecting prices and additional services. Therefore, their calendars must always be updated with the correct availability to avoid double bookings and miscommunication of deals.  Also, having all the necessary reservation details in one place is a massive timesaver, so it would be advantageous to invest in a channel management system upfront.

Irrespective of the size of your property, utilizing tools to ensure a smooth booking process for your guest is a move in the right direction. Both technologies free you up to focus on what is essential, which is running a successful vacation rental property.

Have you ever experienced the inconvenience of an over booking frustrating right so what’s the solution what about avoid it in the first place hi guys my name is Joshua and I’m gonna go through with you two of the tools that I’ve used to help avoid over booking a bed-and-breakfast you could also use it for a hotel as well those are icon or a child manager I’m also going to go through with you how you could link your hotel website with Airbnb so to make sure that both your calendars are synched if this is your first time here consider subscribing so you could stay updated on my website and online marketing tutorials that I’ll be posting from time to time also feel free to like the video and leave a comment I’m not sure to answer it as well as I’ll share some tips to guide you the right direction so let’s get started I color a channel manager which one should you use to avoid an over booking so what is icon in the first place now I call it a computer file format for storing calendar information so think about it for a second assuming you have your website and you have about 20 rooms that you rent you also would like to advertise those on booking.com air B&B and TripAdvisor when you rent one of your rooms on booking.com leaving you with 19 you would want that to be reflected on your website Airbnb and TripAdvisor and iCal well allow you to do that as well and I’ll show you how you can do that let’s look at some of the benefits of using icon so firstly icon is free secondly use an icon will reduce the number of manual entries which will save you time I can’t allow you to reduce overbooking you’ll have the same availability calendars when you synchronize both of your channels or as much channels as you have what to consider before choosing icon firstly iCal can have delays that may vary based on the online travel agencies it could be as short as two minutes but it could also be as long as an hour depending on the online travel agency that you’re using or your website settings so you want to take that into consideration the second thing to consider is that there’s a limited booking details brought over with I call information so for example you may get a book in on air B&B and when you bring over that information to your website you may find that you will only get the last four digits of the telephone number you may also get the availability section that is blocked off you may not get what time the guest is checking in what time they’re checking out how much guests are checking in at the same time so you have to consider that so these information you will then need to log in to air B&B to then get that information also it can be susceptible to mix-up I can be complicated think about if you have five six seven or eight channels trying to sync all of them may not always work the way you want it to work so let’s look at an example of how you could link your website with air B&B so here we are in the back end of our website we’re using a hotel booking plugin to manage all of our bookings if you’d like to see how you can do so I will link a video to this to the top of this page and you’ll be able to see how you could go to step-by-step to create a hotel booking website but for now let’s see how we could do this first thing first we need to go to bookings and check sync calendars once here we need to identify the room or property we would like to sync with one of the other online travel agencies for this example I deleted the sync that I had previously so I could show you how you can do it from scratch what you’d want to do is copy the calendar address for the property you want to sync just highlight it now we can go to your online travel agency for this example we’re gonna be using air B&B so if you log into air B&B and go to your listings you will see all your listings I have three listings for this property I’m going to click on the one I want which is hibiscus Villa once there just click on availability and scroll down and look for import calendar so I will click on that and it’s asking me for the calendar address that I would have copied from my website so I could come here paste it and give it a name so I can call this website I’m bisko’s Villa once you’ve entered the name choose import calendar alright so what you’ve just done is link your website to air B&B but we now need to do the opposite so I want to also export my calendar from Airbnb so this is the address that I’m going to copy from Airbnb now I need to link that to my website so I will go back to the website choose the property I want to link it to and I would choose edit or I could have chosen import calendar as well once I click on edit you’ll have an option here to add new calendar and I can paste that address there and simply choose update and that’s it if I go back I will now see I have this address linked to my Airbnb property so I have the external calendar here and this is my internal calendar if I go back to Airbnb I will see the same thing there and if I want to sync it I can click the sync button to manually sync it the last thing I will show you is where you would go to set the time it should sink so you will then go to accommodations and then settings on the general tab we’ll scroll down and you are looking for the section that is dealing with your calendar synchronization so here I could decide if I want to enable automatic external calendar synchronization I can choose what time I would like it to synchronize and how often you’ll have the option to synchronize up to quarter an hour or every 15 minutes half an hour once an hour twice a day or once a day but as you would notice the shortest time you could synchronize it is quarter of an hour so you can understand if someone booked on Airbnb there might be a 15 minutes window that someone can actually come to the website and book and it might be an over booking so that’s where I’m talking about that you have to be mindful that there are some delays depending on the software that you’re using but there you go we’ve synched both of all our website and air BnB so let’s continue and look at the comparison with a channel manager so what’s a channel manager and how is a channel manager different firstly a channel manager is a tool to efficiently manage bookings on your website online travel agencies wholesalers or global distribution systems so just think about it this way your channel manager is going to link all of your online travel agencies and all of your channels but it’s gonna do a lot more than that so what’s some of the benefits of using a channel manager firstly it’s faster when it comes to syncing between your different channels as we saw with the example I just showed you with the motopress hotel booking plugin there was at least 15 minutes lapse between which your bookings might be sync with a channel manager you may be able to synchronize all of your channels almost real-time you will also be able to automatically book and get the booking details such as the availability the guest information your prices and so forth you may be able to then automatically if you have certain specials you don’t have to go manually changing your prices on every of your channels you could do it in your channel manager and it will automatically update and all your other channels it also would allow you to increase your visibility in a seamless way most channel managers is going to be able to put you in channels ranging from sixty to a hundred even up to four hundred channels at the same time you can kind of understand that that would be quite difficult if you use an eye card to try to manage all those channels but there are some things you need to consider when you’re choosing a channel manager first thing that you need to consider is that it usually is a monthly or a transaction fee so it’s not free like icon you also going to need to consider some channel managers might charge a cancellation fee so take that into consideration when you’re choosing a channel manager lastly may vary in terms of your needs in some cases you could get a basic channel manager by itself in other cases it may be integrated with a property management system a front office system or a payment or gateway I would like to share three examples that you could check out when you get some more time the first example is my allocator from a cloudbeds company and this may start as low as $25 a month so it may work for a smaller property that’s looking to get their advertising out on a lot of channels you can also up your gain by using site minder it’s a little bit more expensive it’s about $79 a month but they are able to advertise your property on over 400 booking channels you could also check out little Hotel EUR I think this is a very excellent option for a bed-and-breakfast or a small hotel looking for not just a channel manager but you might want to get a property management system a direct booking technology channel manager a front office desk all in one package so check out these three options when you have some time I will leave a link to it in the description of this video so what’s the best option for your vacation rental property icon might be suited for a small property most interested in selling their rooms across a few channels and ensuring that you’re blocking off your availability while a channel manager may suit a much larger property or one that is going to be changing their price frequently you may also want to integrate with a property management system and a booking engine so here are your options so hopefully you now have some more options as to which one of these tools might suit you best but most importantly try one of them at least start with icon it’s totally free it’s not gonna cost you anything and is it gonna save you a lot of manual time you could also do it to link Airbnb to booking.com or Airbnb to TripAdvisor and vice versa it is totally free so you could always check it out you could also up your game and move to a channel manager and have your property advertised on a lot more Channel either way you can’t go wrong you really need to start avoiding over booking it is so frustrating if this video was helpful to you please remember to subscribe like the video and share with your friends see you in the next oneh

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