It’s overwhelming how much technology transforms the way we travel. Mobile check-ins increase customer satisfaction tenfold, content from travel brands helps travelers make a final decision about destinations, and the whole 83 percent of millennials don’t bother about personal data sharing as long as it gives them the desired personalization. AR tours, data-driven flight shopping, Alexa in hotel rooms – this is just the tip of the TravelTech iceberg. Here, on Techtalks, you can discover new opportunities for your travel business, ask about the integration of certain technology, and of course – help others by sharing your experiences and reviews. Let’s grow the TravelTech community together.
First, this business model is viable. There are hundreds of online travel agencies that work with flights and hotels only.
But it’s actually hard to give absolutely accurate numbers. Why? The thing is, every online travel agency tries to get a competitive edge over others by finding the lowest rates possible to increase their margins. This can be done by negotiating rates with GDSs, suppliers, and consolidators/wholesalers. And, these negotiated deals aren’t usually disclosed.
Traditionally, commissions that large OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com receive range from 15-30 percent in the hotel industry. If you use the Booking.com API as a partner, expect an average commission of about 15 percent going to Booking.com with commissions differing based on the region.
Flights are more complex and commissions there are usually lower. But they will depend on the agreements that you negotiate with providers, GDSs in particular. Also, keep in mind that you won’t be able to issue tickets if you aren’t IATA-certified. This also comes at a cost that will depend on what kind of travel provider you are and the regions you operate in.
Also, a large part of online travel agency success revolves around the search and commission engine that you tweak on your side.
Finally, you have to invest heavily in marketing to jumpstart your traffic.
So, yeah it’s a viable business model if you do a lot of things right.
At the current moment, nearly all the largest low-cost airlines signed distribution agreements with GDS’s. You may contact their sales managers to get an API connection to some of the low-cost carriers.
Or, you can contact dedicated platforms, that consolidate low-cost only airlines. These are Pyton Flight Portal that offers over 100 low-cost carries via an XML API, and tfFlight platform owned by travel content aggregator Travelfusion.
You can learn more about the available low-cost API’s in our dedicated article.
We hope it answers your question!
Hotelbeds is the leading wholesaler on the market with proven technology support and rich inventory. So, it’s definitely the first place to go and try. HotelsPro is much smaller, but it’s also worth checking out as they claim to have content mapping technology. If you get hotels from multiple sources, content mapping is a need-to-have feature. But keep in mind that you can get content mapping also from tech companies that specialize in it, like Giata or Gimmonix.
Besides the technical part of it, your choice boils down to specific deals that you can negotiate with wholesalers. If you can get better rates at HotelsPro, it may be the best option for you.
Also, check out our article on hotel APIs for more detail.
Thank you for bringing the email issue up! Regarding Amadeus, they’ve recently updated their API portal and claim that Self-Service APIs can be used for production and commercial purposes. Have you also checked Kiwi API?
You can enroll in their affiliate program and then use a RESTful API. Useful info can be found here. Basically, you apply and, if approved, you get all needed credentials and can find the key in their Partner Portal.
Then you can enter a testing environment to try you requests and configure the integration.
The final step is to ensure that your site meets Expedia requirements. You’ll undergo their review prior to going live and then you’ll start working with end-users.
I don’t think you can, because Dohop uses a Booking.com affiliate solution to run its accommodations. So, you should try Booking.com affiliate program instead.
There are almost no absolutely free APIs in the travel industry. One way or another, you have to pay for product use. That said, you may enroll in affiliate programs to share commission fees with a provider or just try sandbox versions for your MVP. Here are some popular APIs that you can get kinda free or with shared fees.
Travel Innovation Sandbox by Amadeus
Sandbox APIs include: flights, hotels, cars, trains, and points of interest.
How? Just register, get your API key, and you’re good to go.
Limitations: No commercial use. No more than 5 concurrent transactions and no more than 5,000 calls per user per month.
Use cases: PoC, testing, student works.
API Explorer by Sabre
Flights, hotels, ground transportation, and cruises. Additionally, fare ranges, low fare forecasts and history, top flight destinations, and air travel seasonality.
How? After you fill out the test API form, the Sabre account manager will contact you and provide you with a token.
Limitations. No commercial use. You get access to REST APIs only, while Sabre also suggests a set of SOAP APIs. Depending on your profile, some APIs may not be available at all.
Use cases: PoC, testing.
The API includes info on flights. As soon as you generate over about $1300 worth of revenue per month, you can start earning.
How? You directly request API access from Skyscanner.
Limitations. Only info sourcing with no booking. They’ll vet you. Live flights calls are limited to 100 per minute, flights cache up to 500 per minute, car hire up to 100 per minute.
Use cases: Metasearch startups.
You get real-time flight and aircraft info.
How? It’s open and can be used right away.
Limitations. Noncommercial use.
Use cases. PoC, student works, nonprofit projects.
The API is mostly aimed at accommodations. You become their affiliate partner and receive part of the booking fee.
How? Apply for an affiliate program and receive your API access.
Limitations. Booking will vet you. Some APIs may not be available and no more than 20 simultaneous API connections are allowed.
Use cases. Accommodation booking.
Very similar terms are available at Agoda Affiliate Program as they belong to Booking Holdings.
Expedia Rapid APIs
The APIs are also aimed at accommodations. As with Booking.com, you get an affiliate fee.
How? Apply for the affiliate program and receive your API access.
Limitations. Each API has its limits of updates per message. Consult the FAQ at each API documentation for specifics.
Use cases. Accommodation booking.
Ticketmaster provides info about and ticket reservations for concerts and sport events. They have two open APIs that are free to use.
How? You have to create an account on the developer portal.
Limitations. Up to 5000 API calls per day.
Use cases. Tour and attraction services.
Other suggestions to try?
So, a few things to have in mind when choosing a channel manager:
Your desired reach, meaning the number of connections it has to distribute your rooms at. For example, the most popular CM Siteminder has 350 channels, and TravelClick (according to its website) will connect you to 400 OTAs. Not bad at all.
Next, what niche of channels does it connect to? Do you want to be listed on the biggest websites or specialty ones? Dig through their list of connections to make sure it works for you.
Also, of course, the price you’re willing to pay. CMs usually have you pay a service fee per month plus the percentage of revenue from each channel or fee per each booking. Usually, the monthly fee will be below $100, but it greatly depends on the number of rooms you have. TravelClick doesn’t have the pricing listed on the website, but if you contact them directly and describe your situation, they should give you that info. Don’t forget to compare it to the prices from other CMs, we have described the main competitors here.
We can’t give you a direct answer whether you should use TravelClick. Try as many channel managers as you can (thankfully, many have a trial period) and make an educated choice.
Thanks a lot for your descriptions. What are the conditions for get access to enterprise API? Where I can find a sample of contract for access to Enterprise API services?
Regarding Kayak, they don’t use iframes. If you consider making metasearch functionality similar to Kayak, you’ll likely need to integrate both Expedia and Booking.com APIs to source IDs and other hotel content. Again, to connect Booking APIs, you’ll have to sign up for their affiliate program. To access Expedia API, apply here.
It depends on what’s you’re looking for. Check our research on the best travel agency software providers to get a broad view. In short, there are four main software categories that travel agents use. We’ve curated the best representatives within each category:
Booking and reservation systems with GDS connectivity and payments: Bookinglayer, Lemax, PHPTravels, Dolphin.
Accounting and invoicing with bank integration: Xero, TravelWorks, OnlineInvoices.
Tour building tools: Tripcreator, Tourwriter, Orioly.
Travel-specific CRM systems: Zoho Travel, Agency CRM, LeadSquared, Travel CRM, Kapture Travel CRM.
I’m afraid we don’t have a full list of those. We are planning to release an article with a wide overview of the largest room suppliers this month. So, stay tuned. Meanwhile, you may read our article about travel APIs. We mention many suppliers there.
We mostly work with GDSs. So, Amadeus suggests 2,000 free requests per month for low-fare search and 3,000 requests for a regular search, given that you use their self-service APIs. Sabre doesn’t have fixed rates and everything must be discussed individually.
As for other players, Skyscanner claims to provide all API services for free, if you can negotiate commercial partnership with them. Their limit is up to 100 requests per minute for live prices. You are right that Kiwi doesn’t provide open info on their rates, so it’s worth contacting them directly. The same for Travelfusion, Orbitz, and Priceline.
You can also try your luck with ATPCO, that’s where all flight prices come from.
If you're okay with sharing some details here, I can try answering your questions. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard of any channel managers that provide hotel rates to other products.
First, you need to become OpenTable affiliate. You have to fill in the form and pass their vetting procedure. If they approve you as a partner, you’ll be able to source restaurant info via their API and place reservation links in your app or website. Currently, OpenTable doesn’t allow for running full reservation process via the API. Your users will have to complete reservations using the OpenTable interface. The API sources publicly available restaurant info such as addresses, postal codes, aggregated scores, number of reviews, and food categories. The data is sent and received in JSON.
If OpenTable API doesn’t work for you, you may check other restaurant and review APIs that we’ve talked about in our article.
Perhaps, there are not many options rather than described in official PNR retrieval guides by SABRE. Concerning the price, retrieving PNR doesn’t require any payments, despite the fact you have to be subscribed to SABRE.
The most popular backoffice solution available for SABRE is TRAMS Back Office, which comes as a part of SABRE Red Workspace. Unfortunately, both solutions are desktop, meaning they have to be installed on each computer. As for the pricing, there is no publicly available information about the subscription price.