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.
Revenue management is a set of practices to maximize returns. In terms of the hospitality industry, revenue management entails finding the right clients for the right room and selling it at the right moment. To achieve this complex goal, hoteliers break the problem into four main problem areas:
- Customer segmentation - understanding the groups of customers, their requirements, price expectations, and booking patterns. For example, business travelers are more likely to book alone, they don’t care much about price, and may resort to last minute bookings. Leisure travelers, on the other hand, are likely to book in advance, be looking for cheaper rooms and may be traveling as a couple and their children.
- Demand forecasting - the name is pretty self-explanatory. Hoteliers look at the past demand numbers to predict future demand. E.g. there’s a higher demand for our rooms in July than in October unless there’s a football match in our city.
- Yield management - finding the best price that would both allow you to sell all rooms and sell the right rooms at the highest price possible.
- Dynamic pricing - a rather advanced technique of regularly changing prices depending on the demand at the moment to sell the room at a higher price. It’s usually solved with machine learning algorithms that consider multiple factors impacting the demand. For instance, we may increase the price if the weather is good and most hotels around look fully booked.
These problem areas and their solutions aren’t siloed. You would normally approach them simultaneously to improve gains. So things may get a bit complex and require active investments in IT, channel management (finding the best place to sell rooms), improving and selling ancillaries like food, transportation, or spa, and better managing overbookings (when the same room is booked twice). We’ve explained revenue management in more detail in our article, so check it out if you want to learn more.
Kayak has an affiliate program that you must enroll in before integrating their API. Keep in mind that Kayak doesn’t permit integration unless your platform has more than 100,000 monthly visitors.
If you have more, you can use their API or white label. To proceed you have to define which kinds of search data you want to receive and contact them directly.
If you have fewer than 100,000 monthly visitors, Kayak offers an affiliate programs trial using third party affiliate networks like CJ or Webgains. They will connect you with smaller brands belonging to Booking Holdings, like Momondo.
Thank you for your interest.
Being a part of the Amadeus’s Self-Service API suite, Flight Create Orders API finalizes the booking.
First, the Flight Offers Search API completes the search returning airline name and fare.
Then, the Flight Offers Price API sends a request to Amadeus to confirm availability and fares for a selected offer.
Next, the flow proceeds with the booking process:
- the Flight Create Orders API makes a booking request to the airline on behalf of the booking engine.
- the airline Passenger Service System generates a Passenger Name Record (PNR) with passenger information and itinerary details. PNR must be paid within 24 hours to confirm the booking.
- the Flight Create Orders API returns a passenger flight order ID along with the reservation details to the booking engine.
- After receiving the payment from the customer and paying the airline its share, an IATA-accredited agency is able to issue the ticket. But since IATA certification it’s out of budget for many agencies, they leverage airline consolidators to pay the airline and issue tickets on their behalf.
Feel free to let us know if you have any further inquiries.
SeatGuru doesn’t seem to provide an open seat map API. Still, you can contact them directly and discuss a possible solution.
Data scraping won’t work as there are dozens of airplane types that vary from airline to airline.
Meanwhile, we can advise the following APIs from Global Distribution Systems:
SeatMap Display API. A part of the Amadeus Self-service APIs suite, the API retrieves the necessary information pre-booking from the Flight Offer including the flight number and displays an airplane cabin plan for a traveler to choose a seat during the flight booking flow. In addition, the API can display an airplane cabin plan post-booking from an existing Flight Order.
Get Seats API. It’s an API from Sabre. Get Seats retrieves flight seat location within the aircraft, availability, and pricing in New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard format. On the other side, the API is connected to the external seat map providers which are airlines including low-cost carriers, and Airline Tariff Publishing Company database. The obtained data follows the Passenger and Airport Data Interchange Standards.
There’s no best software for all. It may depend on the type of hotel you run and the kind of property management system you have. There are several market leaders that fit large hotel chains, independent hotels, and even those who have a private home for rent.
The market leaders are SiteMinder and Cloudbeds. Both have large pools of distribution channels, Airbnb connection (not all channel managers have this one) and can integrate with many PMSs.
PMS integration must be the first criteria of choice if you have one. For midsize and large businesses, other essential things would be real-time property updates to avoid overbooking, analytics, and centralized content management to update hotel info across all channels. SiteMinder, Cloudbeds, STAAH, and eZee fit these criteria.
For small property owners and vacation rentals, you may look for Airbnb integration and well… low price. E.g. eZee Centrix and Lodgable look like the cheapest options for properties with 10 rooms. Lodgable is actually free for its main features and caters to vacation rentals.
We have a broad review of the main platforms in our article about channel management, so you may check this one as well.
Hotelbeds is the leading wholesaler on the market with proven technology support and rich inventory. So, it’s definitely the first place to 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 also get content mapping 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 your interest.
First, let’s unravel the payment processing flow.
You described the business model where a travel agency is accepting direct payments from customers and functions as a merchant of record. Adding a commission to the net-price, an OTA charges the client. Usually, an agency integrates a payment gateway to process payments.
In more detail, payment processing works like this:
When the money is on the agency’s account, it pays the supplier its share. In the case of flights, OTAs must be IATA-accredited to pay airlines directly. Small OTAs aren’t usually certified, so they leverage a consolidator as a payment mediator between them and an airline.
But if an OTA doesn’t function as a merchant, usually, it redirects to a supplier (in case of a direct distribution) or a larger OTA like Expedia or Booking.com for a transaction. According to this business model, OTAs get paid their percentage of the total price at the end of the month. Payment processing isn’t on their shoulders so they don’t owe commissions to payment gateways.
Expedia, for instance, provides EPS Checkout - a white-label solution that collects credit card data and then transmits it to EPS servers where the data is validated and stored.
Distributing hotels, some agencies list the rooms and allow customers only to book but pay already at the property. So that the hotel will pay back the OTA the contracted commission after the check-out.
Your second inquiry was about cost-efficient payment processors.
Setting up a payment gateway is lucrative in case your OTA has a large payment volume:
The more transactions a gateway processes, the less percent it charges per card. Hence, an OTA with about 5000 transactions per month will pay a higher commission per transaction than an OTA with 50000 transactions.
There’s a great number of payment gateways but they offer a similar set of services for a fairly similar price. So, we wouldn’t say that looking for a cheaper payment gateway can save you a lot of money. What really can be a game-changer is negotiating competitive rates and deals with end-product suppliers. Besides leveraging GDS generic deals, it’s necessary to extend your own pool of providers ready to work with you on exclusive conditions. You can read more marketing tips for travel agencies in our article.
All in all, defining a payment processing strategy is a complex task. So, you may want to get in touch with our sales team for further discussion.
As for Kayak, its API is available to platforms that generate over 100,000 monthly visitors.
To begin with, we recommend having a look at our article where we describe a wide choice of hotel APIs. Here, we’ll describe the main providers of hotel information APIs without booking capabilities.
If you’re not looking for rich visual content but only the key information, have a look at Global Distribution Systems. Although they cover a large inventory of hotels, they provide quite limited services.
Amadeus self-service Hotel Search API. The Amadeus hotel database includes over 650k properties. The API returns hotel rates, name, address, room type, amenities list, and other hotel information. Results can be filtered by hotel category, hotel chain name, facilities or budget.
Sabre Hotel Availability API comprises 175k properties and returns their status, pricing, booking policy rules, restrictions, inventory, images, descriptions, and policies.
Another option would be bed banks as they’re buying hotel rooms in bulk and reselling them for a fixed price.
Hotel Content API by Hotelbeds. This wholesaler covers 180k hotels in almost every country in the world. Its Content API provides rich content with descriptions, room facilities, bed types, etc. in static and dynamic formats.
Cosmos API by HotelsPro. The rich content of about 600k hotels which comes automatically mapped.
Good question and you’re right, there’s a lot to learn and do when starting an OTA. First, let us recommend a video series we’ve been doing where our Travel Technology Competence Leader Andrey Chebotarov talks about OTAs basics, booking engines, commission engines, and so on. It should be helpful.
Now, there are four main things you should focus on for a new OTA.
First is the inventory and access to it. Contact your suppliers for exclusive prices and conditions that will make you stand out among other booking websites.
Second is IATA, ARC, or CLIA compliance. Here’s our detailed article on IATA accreditation that will guide you step by step and explain your options.
Third is a smart marketing strategy. This covers your SEO and communication strategies, and even integration with metasearch sites. Again, here’s an article that should clear a lot of things out.
And fourth is the technology. That’s your search, booking, and commission engines that should all work effectively together to bring your and your customers the most value.
Let us know if you have any specific questions here or in person at email@example.com.
Thank you for this insightful question.
Every flight search API has access to airline schedules that include connecting airports. But not always this API is capable of processing stopover requests.
Pulling flight data from Global Distribution Systems, you can set a stopover airport as an additional search parameter. So the API will return you only the flights with the leg in the selected airport.
Also, you can do it from your side: Once the itineraries are retrieved via the API, сreate a business rule for this data that will execute filtering by the stopover airport.
It depends. There’s no single best flight API. Your choice depends on the specific problem you’re trying to solve (e.g. enable flight and fare search, or track flight status with departure and arrival times, or enable flight booking). Generally, there are two basic options: source data from global distribution systems (or GDSs, the major, worldwide flight aggregators) or directly from airlines. In some cases, you can check APIs by tech providers like FlightStats.
If you need the widest airline coverage and you want to implement flight booking, check GDS APIs by Sabre, Travelport, and Amadeus. Each of them covers about 400 active airlines. They search for flights and low fares, and do booking and ticketing. The problem with this approach is that some airlines like Lufthansa set surcharges for booking through GDSs because they want to encourage direct booking or direct cooperation with resellers.
So, the option is to integrate and partner directly with each airline you need. That, however, presents an even larger number of problems as there are only about 40 airlines that have standardized XML-based APIs and each of them is slightly different. So, the engineering effort may be enormous. On the bright side, with direct connections, you get the widest ancillary booking support, seat selection, baggage customization options, etc. The most balanced approach to flight search and booking is to combine GDSs with some direct integrations.
If your goal is general info without booking capabilities, you may not need GDS or direct integration. The first place to go for fresh flight fare data is ATPCO, the main fare distribution provider. The largest pool for timetables, routes, and connections is provided by Innovata, a travel tech company. Also check FlightStats and Flightradar24 for flight and airport details like delay indexes, arrivals and departures, aircraft equipment, airport FIDS, flight status, etc.
If you need something simple and don’t want to go through raw airline data, you may contact OTAs or metasearch platforms to integrate their APIs. The key provider here is Skyscanner, but also consider Expedia or Kiwi.
For more details, have a look at our travel API's articles.
There’s also some support at online travel agencies (Skyscanner, Priceline, etc). To access those, you normally must use affiliate partner contacts. Finally, one of the largest car rental suppliers, Avis, has a public API.
Besides APIs, many suppliers support affiliate links and banners, if that works for you. You may check car rental connectivity options in our article in more detail.