Travel and Booking APIs for Online Travel Service Providers
Back in 2017, TripAdvisor and comScore suggested that travelers make 10 to 34 website visits on average to book their trips. While this seems like a lot for booking hotels, for instance, travelers visit only 4.4 unique websites, according to the study by Fuel and Flip.to. People prefer to make their reservations through ‘all-in-one-place’ platforms. They’ve reshaped user experience unifying and eventually simplifying it for average travelers.
One of the reasons is that travel industry players have become a lot more open to sharing data with each other. A good example of this is Uber which in 2014 allowed third parties to incorporate the Request the ride functionality in their applications. Today, your local sightseeing app can let users commute from one landmark to another without switching apps.
The main types of travel APIs and how they work
In tech terminology, the synonym to this growing connectivity is API. Application programming interface allows for connecting data streams and functionalities between different software products. APIs work as control panels for developers to link different software components without dealing with source code. What does this mean for the travel industry? If you run a hotel business, you can let your customers rent a car straight from your website by integrating your room reservation engine with available local car rental providers. This may put a car-rental commission in your pocket or just make your customer’s life easier by eliminating time browsing the web to rent a car.
So, let’s talk about the most important types of APIs used to unify travel industry features and information. Warning, it’s going to be a long read, so you may hop to the sections that seem interesting by navigating the menu to the right, if you’re on a desktop.
For the online travel agency (OTA), all these aspects are worth covering in the application. For local or niche travel services providers, this list may be shorter.
As Valentin Dombrovsky, Chief Alchemist at Travelabs, suggests, “API selection should be preceded by thorough analysis of competitive solutions – both from business and technical standpoints. And the first question you need to answer is: do you need an API for this specific product at all? Sometimes it’s better to start with hypothesis testing and in that case, you could use partner links or white label solutions for new products that you might want to introduce.”