Techtalks: Traveltech

how does these commission based search engines works

Hello. I was reading lot of your articles, they are super informative and helpful, so thanks you for that!! So, I am trying to understand how all of these commission based flight search engine works? you giving them some parameters, based on this parameters they return you wide range on flights. and when you trying to actually book a flight, they are sending you to some travel agents/ carrier companies with their affiliate link (am i wrong?). so, I registered to Amadeus API, as i understood its like the widest data source for that, so now i have the access to the most of the flights data. but the only option that given there is to book right trough the GDS itself- what makes you the agent by yourself (in case you allowed to book though GDS of course). But what is the source these search engines are using to take all of this info of prices of agencies and carriers for each flight? or am I wrong with all of my assumption? Thanks!

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Medanko roman

asked  Nov 2, 2019

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Maryna Ivakhnenko, Copywriter/Editor at AltexSoft

answered  Nov 12, 2019


Hello Roman,

Thank you for your feedback.
We assume you’re considering which database to integrate with: a metasearch or a GDS.
Let us know if we misunderstood your request.

Now to the point. The flow you describe is indeed common for metasearch engines aka aggregators like Skyscanner, Google Flights, or Kayak: they answer queries using formatted and ranked results from third-party search engines or directly from airline and OTA partners. Once travelers proceed with booking, a metasearch redirects them to the actual owner of the deal. And that’s how they make money - for every click on their link.

A metasearch engine’s business model is to provide the richest flight options that exactly match the traveler’s needs. They are able to reach more precise fare returns for a lower cost than GDS. They achieve that by aggregating data from millions of flights both past and present and comparing prices using strong search algorithms.

Some metasearch engines tap into New Distribution Capability to enable direct bookings through their websites. An example is Skyscanner’s direct booking platform. They can connect directly to the airline’s Central Reservation System via an NDC API to aggregate flight data.

As per your question, a metasearch engine pulls information from the APIs by flight data providers. Airlines and OTAs are usually the ones to initiate a connection with metasearch, as they want to broaden their customer base. Besides direct partners, aggregators integrate with:

Some airlines don’t provide direct access, though. Low-costers are the majority of them, as they strive for direct bookings. In this case, aggregators have the practice of mimicking human activity on airline websites aimed at extracting fare info. It’s called web scraping and it’s semi-legal so aggregators had better agree on that with an airline first.

For a full picture of airline distribution, check our infographic.

Speaking of the metasearch APIs capabilities, they don’t enable booking on your website. For this purpose, you’ll have to redirect users to either the aggregator itself or directly to the deal owner.