There’s no way around it: vacation rental marketing is a multi-channel marketing business. You need both listing sites and OTAs (online travel agencies) to boost visibility, drive new inquiries, and supplement direct and repeat bookings.
Many property management software (PMS) companies integrate with listing channels to help you streamline your marketing efforts. Some of these providers integrate by relying on third-party channel management software to facilitate these links - but finding property management software that integrates directly with listing sites is a best practice. MyVR offers complete, direct channel integrations to the 5 major brands and their network of 70+ listing sites.
In order to be successful across multiple marketing channels, it is essential that you are closely integrated with each marketing channel. Indirect integrations often create unnecessary risk for property managers, direct integrations are the only approach that can guarantee transparency and accuracy.
What exactly are channel integrations and why should it matter if your property management software is indirect or direct? Here’s a look at how these direct integrations work and why they are vital for the success of your short-term rental business and channel management strategy.
How do channel integrations work?
Channel management software communicates with a listing site through an application programming interface, or API for short. APIs are the infrastructure that allow updates made in your channel manager to be immediately reflected on listing sites and vice versa. Essentially, APIs are the backbone of channel integration functionality.
For direct integrations, this communication between the channel manager and listing site is all that is needed for your PMS to be up-to-date. But with indirect integrations, it's more complicated. After each communication between the channel manager and the listing site, your PMS must continuously copy the data from the third-party channel manager.
While this may seem simple at first, when you factor in multiple properties, multiple channels, and user interactions with your listings, the data becomes immense. The transfer of this vast amount of data increases the chances of your indirect integration breaking down or losing pieces of data long the way.
Think of it as if you’re sharing your favorite painting with someone. You take a photo of the original and send it to a friend; it may not be quite “true to life,” but it’s pretty close. That friend, in turn, shares it with another friend - but to do so, they take a photo of your photo. With that extra step, some of the detail is lost. And it goes on: Each reproduced photo is a little more pixelated and less true to the original.
That same degradation happens with data transfers. When using indirect integrations, every time your PMS must transfer data back and forth to the listing sites across the channel manager, it loses a little bit of data. This can cause big problems for vacation rental businesses - namely discrepancy in prices, unwanted rate markups and double bookings.
Why do direct channel integrations matter?
Direct integrations are the only means of uniting your PMS with your listing sites/OTAs, allowing you full control over your properties and ensuring visibility and accuracy across all channels. Providers with direct integrations have built software that can precisely match each respective channel’s unique API.
As you might imagine, this process is incredibly time-intensive and requires technical expertise in each channel. Many third-party channel managers that are available to you or that some property management softwares use don’t take the time to do it right.
These third-party channel managers take shortcuts in leveraging APIs - such as not building to the API’s full capabilities or failing to regularly update APIs over time. Trusting your short-term rental business’s revenue and reputation with a PMS that uses indirect, incomplete integrations puts your business at risk.
The risk of relying on a middleman
When a PMS uses a third-party channel manager to exchange information with OTAs and listing sites, it can have unexpected consequences on your displayed rates, financial transactions, and the accuracy of listing information.
Here are a few potential threats.
- Lose control. As a result of using a PMS with an outsourced channel manager, your listings’ rates can be marked up by the channel manager without your knowledge or consent. If you are on listing sites like Booking.com, HomeAway or Expedia, you lose the privilege of being the merchant of record. This means that when a credit card transaction comes through it won’t go directly to your account, which can translate into delays, extra fees, and more administrative work. Or worst case scenario, the PMS isn’t credible and shuts down without paying vacation rental managers for reservations.
- Lose reliability. Poorly built APIs are unable to keep up with tools like dynamic pricing that are critical to your business’s competitiveness, resulting in inconsistencies for your channel management strategy.
- Lose peace of mind. It’s frustrating when you can’t trust your software partner to communicate your listings’ information accurately. Property management softwares that lack the expertise to build out their own direct integrations may put your business at risk.
Putting complete, direct integrations to work for you
When an API is well-built, the connection between a channel manager and a listing site is direct, complete and optimized for peak performance. These APIs allow property managers to run their businesses at maximum efficiency with full control over their properties and without the fear of double bookings or marked up rates.
The vacation rental industry is a constantly evolving sector. Partnering with a PMS that offers direct integrations will give you peace of mind that no matter how the industry’s landscape changes, your channel manager will adapt with it.
MyVR is proud to offer complete, direct channel integrations for every partnership we offer. Our strategic and technical relationships with top brands, such as Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway and their affiliated brands, give us full access to each channel’s official API - no middleman required. In fact, Airbnb named us to their first list of Preferred Software Partners at the end of 2018.
Our direct link enables MyVR to use a process that ensures minimal - if any - data is lost in transfer from the MyVR platform to listing sites.
There’s no doubt that property management software can make the life of a property manager easier. But it’s also important that your PMS is a reliable partner. Direct channel integrations are a litmus test for the credibility and expertise of a PMS.