Besides APIs, channel managers can also use iCal connections to connect to channels. These are less reliable because they don’t provide instant updates. Sometimes, it can take up to a few hours for an iCal sync to take effect. In the meantime, you’re open to getting double bookings.
It’s important to note that some channel managers use a combination of API and iCal connectivity. For example, they may use APIs to connect to major booking sites like Airbnb and Vrbo and allow you to import other calendars – like those of your own website or another channel like Expedia, Tripadvisor, or Agoda – via iCal.
This is a good solution if you receive most of your bookings from the big online channels and supplement them with bookings from other sources.
What’s the Difference Between a PMS and a Channel Manager?
From the above, it’s clear that while a PMS focuses on automating operational tasks and streamlining workflows, a channel manager serves to automate the online distribution of your listings and keep your channel calendars updated. The difference between the two has to do with their focus and the suite of tools they provide.
PMS and Channel Manager: Which One Do You need?
Now that you know what the difference is between a PMS and a channel manager, the question that’s left to answer is: Which one do you need?
Oftentimes, professional short-term rental managers use a channel manager and a PMS together, connected by an API connection. This allows them to seamlessly link their software tools and use one, integrated system to manage the different aspects of their business. This is the most efficient way to work for property management companies with hundreds of listings.
For short-term rental hosts with a handful of properties, such a system would be too time-consuming, expensive, and complicated to set up. For them, the best choice is an all-in-one vacation rental software that has the essential functionalities of a PMS and a channel manager.
In the next section, we’ll tell you about Host Tools, a budget-friendly all-in-one platform that has all the vacation rental host tools you could possibly need to cover your operational and marketing needs.
Host Tools: An All-In-One Tool for Short-Term Rental Hosts
Host Tools is an affordable, easy-to-use automation tool and channel manager for vacation rental hosts.
I built it so that hosts with one to a handful of listings – like myself – could have access to a suite of sophisticated tools to efficiently manage their rentals without breaking the bank.
With Host Tools, you can win back your free time and spend it with your family and friends instead of wasting it on repetitive tasks that could easily be automated.
You can also increase your efficiency as a host, which allows you to focus on more important things like finding new investment properties. In the long run, a higher level of efficiency translates into greater profits – and that’s what we all want from our businesses.
So, what can Host Tools do for you?
- Keep your pricing and availability calendars up-to-date on all the channels you advertise on. The Host Tools channel manager has API integrations with Airbnb, Vrbo, Houfy and Booking.com Plus, it lets you add any other channels via iCal. Syncing your calendars guarantees that guests always see your accurate availability, which helps you increase your occupancy and bookings.
- Save time on guest communication by automating your messages and reviews. Host Tools automated messages are easy to set up using Airbnb message templates. They help you maintain a high response rate and get you closer to becoming an Airbnb Superhost.
- Schedule your cleanings in an efficient and error-free way by automatically sending text messages to your housekeeping team when a booking is confirmed or a guest checks out.