Travelers nowadays do proper research before booking their trips or packages. According to a study, a common traveler does 4.4 unique website searches before making a decision. People also prefer ‘all-in-one-place’ platforms for their reservation bookings rather than switching their apps for different requirements.
And for any Travel Business to be able to cater to the requirement of their customer, it becomes essential to bring the desired content on their online platform. To offer online booking services, Travel Business would need to pick data from various inventory sources and that is where travel APIs come in place.
In the past few years, api integrations have reshaped how the Travel Business are utilizing the content from various sources and create great user experience for their travelers.
Seeing this trend, online travel agents(OTAs) have become a lot more open to sharing data.
What is Travel API?
API is a set of web services that facilitates access to data sources which can be helpful for OTAs in sustaining their customers. This is usually done by providing information such as hotel booking information, flight information, transport option, traffic conditions and more.
APIs are also capable to create or modify orders and manage payments, by interacting with providers of transport and hospitality services.
Do you need a third party API integration?
Third party travel API integration is not essential for a very small agency who are handling a handful of customers or operating within a very small region.
In that case, their direct contracts with a few local suppliers are sufficient. But to scale a travel business, having a large pool of inventory becomes vital, as beyond a point it becomes incredibly difficult and costly to physically go and get direct sign contracts with thousands of suppliers based in different regions.
GDS, third party flight APIs, hotel APIs, Car APIs, sightseeing APIs — all are highly used these days by travel agencies to access the travel deals online.
Why should you use Travel APIs?
There are two key reasons to use Travel APIs apart from providing a rich user experience to your online visitors, That is to make the consumption and provisioning of travel services more efficient:
- Efficient travel consumption—Travel oriented companies and large enterprises can use travel APIs to connect their IT systems directly to travel service providers; automating the booking and optimizing the travel plans. This eventually reduces the operational costs for corporate travel agencies.
- Efficient travel provisioning—Online Travel Agencies or any other application that helps travelers plan a trip or purchase travel services, can use travel APIs to provide richer and smart services to their users. For example, a hotel booking site can enrich its services by providing data on flight and sightseeing options, via additional travel APIs.
Types of Travel API and How they function
An API allows the connection between data streams and other functionalities of various software products. In short, APIs act as control panels for developers, that can be linked to different software components without dealing with source code.
To understand this better, let’s assume you run a hotel business, Now you want to let your customers rent a car straight from your website apart from your hotel booking service. This could be super easy by integrating your room reservation engine with available local car rental providers. This may put a car-rental commission in your pocket; but at the same time, make your customer’s life easier by eliminating time browsing the web to rent a car. That ultimately retains your customers.
Moving ahead, let get into the types of APIs that are commonly used worldwide:
- Global Distribution System (GDS) APIs- It is an aggregator of travel data which serves booking websites and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) . This API provides the required data and enables 5 key reservations of hotels, airline seats, car rental companies, railways, cruise lines & ferries, and more.
This enables resellers of travel services to connect to one API, rather than interacting with each individual service provider.
Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport, are the top 3 GDS providers that control almost 100% of the market. Their APIs are detailed below.
|Amadeus API||With its two variants(self-service and enterprise) amadeus APIs are used for airlines, railroads, hotels, car rentals, airport private shuttles or taxi transfers, cruises, travel insurance reservations.|
|Sabre API||Sabre API covers the same set of functions as the Amadeus APIs. Though you can see its APIs into eight different groups. HotelsAirlinesUtilityGround transportation (car rentals and rails)Session managementProfilesTrip managementCruisesHence, providing management of traveller profiles and end-to-end trips|
|Travelport API||Travelport joins data from three different GDS systems—Apollo, Worldspan and Galileo. It provides an Air API, Rail API, rooms reservations, and a fares and ancillaries module.Travelport API has the largest number of listed hotel properties, but the cruise options are narrowed to travel agents who book manually. It also doesn’t include insurance and transfers into their APIs.|
- Flight Booking API – Though you can provide flight information via GDS APi, for more granular control over flight booking details and allowing travel agencies to customize reservations and obtain reduced rates flight booking APIs are required. Galileo, multilink, Go air API are some of the worldwide known travel booking APIs. Whereas two key flight search APIs are the Skyscanner API and the Flightstats API.
|Flight Booking API||Offerings|
|SKyscanner API||This API looks into the flight prices for a variety of destinations and time ranges (based on cached data), and querying real-time price data for precise flight queries. Rates are based on an affiliate agreement—you must be examined and approved to receive access to the API.|
|Flightstats API||Current and historical flight status, schedules and connections, aircraft details, schedules, delays and standard performance ratings for flights, weather information, and real-time data on flight disruptions.|
- Hotel Rooms Reservations API – There are several providers of hotel room inventories. Booking.com and Expedia are the largest, but additional providers like Jack travel, TBO hotels, Orbitz, Hotwire, agoda offer inventories in specific locations or niches. By connecting to their APIs, you can get specific room information, booking information, and at the same time can handle reservations and cancellations across their inventories.
- Car APIs – Most car APIs allow you to build packages that include car rental, flights and hotels. Various providers focus on car rental in their APIs, allowing you to leverage inventory from their own fleets or big car rental brands.
5 Key Benefits of Travel APIs
1. Increase Traffic to your app & website by allowing data sharing between two companies– Online travel agencies(OTAs) have an inventory of flights, hotels, activities, taxi service, etc, which they might have acquired from several API of different companies. That can be easily shared via Travel APIs.
2. API saves a huge amount of time– Various companies provide APIs that can be used by developers to add flight, hotel, rental car booking, and other capabilities to their applications. Otherwise, all the inventory needs to be collected additionally.
3. Easy to implement Travel APIs makes the process smoother– APIs are the heartbeat of any online travel agencies. It permits a travel agent to integrate API for hotel booking, flight booking, along with third-party API integration on the travel agent’s site.
4. Travel APIs help you retain your customer– API integration make sure that whenever a customer searches to book a hotel or a flight on your travel site, then airline API integration, flight ticket booking API integration, and others will assure you that they won’t be redirected to another site and the payment will be collected by your travel agent only.
5. Helps in Dynamic packaging– API service provider shows packages for flight, hotels, cars, and other APIs with flexible pricing. You can get a dynamic package integrated depending on your need. And all modifications can be implemented quickly and your travel business continues to evolve.
Points to consider before selecting a service provider for API integration
- Do they provide thorough support while you are integrating the API? Do they have proper documentation available? In many cases, people face these and it took more than 7month to implement the APIs
- Do they provide you with a competitive price for the tickets? In many cases, they may provide you with an API in less price but ticket price will be higher and eventually leave you regretful on your decision.
- Do they get you a readymade portal or build it from stretch? If you like to go for a cheaper option then the readymade portal will be best for you but if you do not want to compromise with every piece of your idea then you should get it built from scratch.
- Do they have their portal/app in b2c, b2b or b2b2c? This is essential to know as you will face many issues that they might not be aware of.
Process involved in Travel API integration
1) Supplier Selection
This is going to be the first step When choosing a supplier, do thorough research to make sure you choose a supplier that’s best for your Travel agency, based on availability, your region, their rates, requirements etc.
One Supplier might have a wide range of hotels & better rates in your region than another supplier, so it’s a good practice to check their rates and availability beforehand. And make your own research as not every supplier provides multiple modules (eg hotels, air, activities etc) in their API.
So, if you intend to sell hotels, flights, and cars, you need to either select a supplier that provides all three or integrate multiple suppliers.
2) Signing the Contract & API Documentation
Once you have selected the supplier you want to contract with, you need to sign an API contract with them. As discussed above, a supplier may provide multiple APIs for different modules. You will need a detailed contract covering all modules you choose, with separate APIs as required.
You might also need to pay a deposit. However if you have a good relationship & you have given good volumes, suppliers may lesen the API charge or even be free of charge.
Once the contract procedure is done, the supplier will send you and your technology provider an API document along with a test access. The API document contains all technical details about the API and what is included in it, such as the different parameters, rules and services. This is where a reliable & trusted technology partner comes into the picture.
3) API document Assessment and Development
Once the API documentation has been done, your technology partner will study the API and its technical feasibility with regards to their booking engine. This helps them decide if the API is ready-to-deploy or some changes are required to their XML connector or even build a completely new connector for it.
Each API demands a separate connector and mapping, so if you have multiple APIs, your technology partner will have to build multiple connectors.
4) Certification and Integration
Once the documentation & connector is ready, you will need to get it certified by the supplier, For existing connections, It usually takes around a couple of week’s time to complete the certification, while for new connections, approx a month is required.
Once the certification is complete, the supplier will provide you credentials to access their live feeds which can be used for bookings. After that, your technology partner will replace the test feeds with the live ones and integrate them into the booking engine.
Our expertise in assembling feeds from multiple suppliers provides you a single interface to access all third-party data, rather than jumbling between multiple screens.
5) Post Integration
Once the integration is done and your site goes live, your clients/visitors will start seeing real-time data for the modules you have integrated. After post integration of travel APIs, One of the common concerns a lot of travel agents faces is the search response speed.
The search response speed depends on a number of factors, including the architecture of the booking engine, the server location, no of APIs integrated and more. But the key factor is the supplier response time. Some suppliers take longer to respond than others.
10–12 seconds is the average response time from the supplier side. Hence, while choosing a supplier, you need to take attention between speed and rates, as many suppliers who have good rates provides a relatively slow response time and vice-versa.
So it’s important to discuss any speed issues with your technology partner.
That’s why, it becomes essential to choose your travel technology partner who update at regular intervals, ensuring your integrated inventory is up-to-date.
That’s all about travel APIs, Types of APIs, benefits of APIs and the integration process you need to know as a growing travel business owner.
Meanwhile, if you need to first setup your online travel business, then do check out our MakemyTrip Clone Solutions that have 50+ pre integrated APIs to scale your travel business.
Frequently Asked Question for Travel API integration
Q. What is a travel API?
A. Travel API is a set of web services that is used to access travel data from different portals. It’s a kind of a control panel for linking with software components without dealing with the code itself.
Q. How a travel API works?
A. Travel APIs work on a simple logic; It fetches online travel data (flights, hotels cost, availability, destinations) from one portal and allows third-party resources to get access to this information.
Q. How do I integrate travel API into my website?
A. In short, just call the respective customer support of the supplier and ask them to connect to the technical team as you need to Integrate their inventory into your website after mentioning your location.
Now, some business guy in your location will connect with you, discuss your terms and conditions and sign the agreement.
Once everything goes fine with their tech team, they will share their Inventory API document to you, which you can integrate with your website with the help of your technical team.
Q. How much travel API will cost?
A. The cost of travel API depends on the services you are choosing and the supplier. The charge usually starts from INR 10, 000 and goes up to lakhs. The more services you integrate the more you need to pay.
Q. From where I can get cheap and best travel API integration?
A. There are several travel portal companies from where you can get the travel API integration. But in order to get the cheap yet technologically advanced travel API integration, that is flexible and contains new features, then you need to explore the top suppliers with your customized requirement.
Q. Why Do I Need API Integration for Travel Portal?
A. API integration becomes necessary for travel portals nowadays. Because users prefer a place where they can customize their travel related searches and they do not want to switch between apps for the same. This is where API provides them the same comfort & facility. If a travel portal owner wishes to scale their business then he/she must integrate API.
Q. What is 3rd party API integration?
A. If you don’t have your own API, then you can integrate API from 3rd party suppliers on your own app/ website. This is referred to as 3rd party API integration.