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.
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.
Yes, Travelpayouts looks like a nice option. Rome2Rio doesn’t have booking capability. It has search only.
If you’re fine with affiliate programs, also check Skyscanner, Allmyles, and KIWI. You may also consider Booking.com and Expedia affiliate programs, but they mostly address accommodation booking.
Hotelbeds doesn't publicly publish their rates. As their APItude service has multiple sets of APIs and various types data that you can request, the end pricing can be very different depending on your needs.
So, the best option would be to contact Hotelbeds directly and provide them with the list of services that you plan to use.
However, you can test the APIs in the sandbox mode prior to opting for some specific services.
Klook doesn’t provide APIs for businesses (like OTAs) that distribute tours and attractions. Currently, they suggest a number of tools within their affiliate program. You can add Klook banners, deep links, and search boxes to your product.
If you’re interested in integrating Klook as a merchant and you want to distribute your T&A services on their platform, they suggest API integration on top of the web interface.
Orbitz doesn't provide its own API. This OTA is a brand of Expedia Group. So, look for a connection with them.
If you’re an OTA, TMC, metasearch, or other travel provider, Expedia has its Rapid API. It lets you retrieve hotel data and booking rooms. To get access to Rapid, you first have to apply for a partnership with Expedia. If they approve you as a partner, you can start testing the API. Here’s their Expedia Partner Solutions page.
Before going live, you must make sure that you comply with their requirements.
If you're a hotel, use Expedia Connectivity to hook your property to all Expedia products. Check their API documentation. The API manages bookings and sends updates about your property, rates, availability, etc. To become their lodging partner, first, register your property by joining Expedia Partner Central.
It’s almost impossible to give specific - read useful - advice, because of the many unknowns to clarify.
Let me provide some general assumptions though.
First, it doesn’t seem like you need to build a channel manager. A channel manager is a tool that hotels use to effectively manage their bookings. It connects to multiple OTAs and wholesalers. And as soon as a traveler confirms a booking at some OTA, a channel manager reserves a room at a hotel and updates other OTAs that this particular room is no longer available. This way, hotels don’t have to manually update each room status in all OTAs and other platforms that they distribute through.
According to your description, you're considering building a new booking portal. So, in this case, you would act as another channel for hotels that you want to distribute. And there are multiple scenarios.
1) The most straightforward approach is to connect with channel manager software that the hotels in question already use. This way, your customers will be able to book through your portal and a channel manager will update room status across other OTAs. Here are the most popular channel manager products. This doesn’t mean though that the hotels you’re interested in use these specific channel managers. Of course, they may have custom channel managers. You should ask hoteliers directly and then contact channel manager providers for their connectivity options.
2) Also, these hotels (or some of them) may not be using channel manager software at all and may manage their channels manually. This means that they use multiple room management panels provided by each OTA they work with. For instance, if someone books a room through Booking.com, they manually update the room availability in Expedia. Or they may be using Booking.com only and have no listings in Expedia.
If this is the case, you may develop a booking portal and a room management panel the way OTAs do. Then you’ll have to persuade hoteliers to use your panel on top of the existing ones.
3) If you know the specific OTAs your hotels use, you may look for affiliate programs that these OTAs suggest and sell using those. Check this one by Booking.com. Large OTAs usually have multiple connectivity options, including white labels, widgets, and APIs.
4) Another approach is to connect with bedbanks and wholesalers like Hotelbeds if they use those.
5) And finally, if you have a handful of hotels, you may try directly connecting with their internal property management systems. This is not the option if there are hundreds of hotels you want to work with and connecting to each of them would be difficult.
Basically, it all comes down to exactly how the hotels you want to work with distribute their rooms. Hopefully, this provides a jumping-off point to help you decide.
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.
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.
Check our articles on top hotel PMS systems as we’ve done a broad research and mentioned the best providers there. Here are our top picks by categories of hotel business:
Beasty PMSs for hotel chains: Oracle Property Management, 5stelle, Maestro PMS, Clock PMS, IQware.
For business-oriented hotels with conference and catering: Protel, eZee Absolute, MSI cloud, RoomKey PMS, SkyTouch Hotel OS, StayNTouch.
For apartments, vacation rentals, and timeshares: Vreasy, Stays PMS, eZee Front Desk, Guest Tracker, innRoad, Hoteliga, Xotelia.
Small hotels: Little Hotelier, Hotelogix, Amadeus Hotel, Charts Beds, Cloudbeds, WebrezPro, Sirvoy Software, Frontdesk Master, Ikonnect PMS, HotelTime.
Hotelbeds Group has a huge market coverage allowing you to distribute accommodations, activities, and transfers in 185 countries. It has a few APIs but all with the same integration process, so we’ll walk you through it.
- Register for a test key. This will create an account in Mashery – an API database that powers Hotelbeds and many other APIs in different industries.
- After receiving a confirmation email, generate your API key, which will give you access to documentation and the Sandbox. At this stage, you’ll also need to choose at least one Hotelbeds API that you’re planning to choose. There are three: Booking API, Content API, and Cache API. Read a brief explanation here.
- Be prepared for integration. You will be contacted by a Hotelbeds representative.
Sabre is one of three main global distribution systems (GDSs) on the market, along with Amadeus and Travelport. GDS is a database of travel data pulled from various service providers that connect travel agents with hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruises, and railways. What used to be a manual system with each reservation taking up to 3 hours is now a global network. Sabre was the first of such GDSs. Basically, you can’t make the reservation process automatic without connection to this system.
You can use just one GDS – Sabre, for example – or a combination of a few, but if you specialize in only cruises or railways, research which GDS gives you a better shot at covering all providers. As you can see from the image below, Amadeus is an undisputed leader in everything but hotels, and with Sabre you’ll receive an average number of companies, only if you don’t want to cover all the cruises.
The TripAdvisor Content API allows you to display detailed information about accommodations, restaurants, and attractions on your website. Integrating TripAdvisor Content API is fairly easy.
- Of course, first review the display requirements because it should be approved before the launch on your website.
- Submit an application form. Note, that access to the API is limited and it may take a while to receive a confirmation or rejection email.
- In the last section, you’ll have to describe how the API will be displayed, which is where you need to know the requirements from the step one.
Galileo is one of three GDSs along with Apollo and Worldspan that comprise Travelport GDS. Travelport has a pretty straightforward workflow to get started with product.
- Request trial access to Galileo APIs and submit a form on Travelport’s website. There, you’ll have to choose your preferred GDS from the three (Galileo in your case). This is free, and you will receive a key to Galileo in a few minutes. Here’s a link to documentation to help you.
- When you’re done with testing, contact an Account Manager from your profile or Travelport itself, and they will supply you with authorization.
- After you are authorized, contract finalization and certification will start. This is called the Pre-Production stage. Travelport asks you to complete a Universal API Requirements Questionnaire [.docx] to evaluate your capacity needs. After completion, you should request a sales representative call to review your questionnaire and finalize certification.
- When you receive your API certification, you enter the Production system. Make sure your developers and systems comply with Travelport’s requirements. You will receive further instructions from your account manager.
Skyscanner is a large metasearch engine that provides a set of info APIs totally free. This means you can source their data, but you won’t be able to set booking on your website. You have to redirect users to either Skyscanner or straight to a supplier. But, you can earn a commission once you generate more than about $1300 worth of revenue per month. To do that, you must first get API access as Skyscanner vets candidates and not all of them are rewarded with access. Once you reach the $1300 threshold, you can sign a contract with Skyscanner and directly negotiate your commission.
- Skyscanner is a well-recognized metasearch business that has been on the market since 2001 and currently accesses about 1200 providers worldwide.
- They keep their tech and documentation up to date. It’s transparent: You can always ask questions and solve problems.
- They use RESTful API with both JSON and XML available.
- You get access to both cached and live data. For instance, you can use cached data (that updates up to every 14 days for unpopular routes and more often for popular ones) to make flex search comparison of flight fares and retrieve live quotes for specific dates that a user requests.
- You can enroll in a partnership for free. And once you start generating more than £1000 or ~$1300, you can start earning.
- The main problem is that not just any business gets accepted by Skyscanner. Even though theoretically everyone can get access, they’ll vet your company to make sure that you are capable of generating revenue and attracting users.
- No surprise, there are limits. If you’re looking for live prices, you can make up to 100 calls per minute.
- Skyscanner forbids caching on your side. In other words, you can’t store old prices to build, say, a flex-fare search based on previous user requests. You still have to use their cache, which is limited to 500 fares per minute.
- You have to make sure that all your customers know that your app is powered by Skyscanner by adding a message to that effect. Theoretically, you can negotiate something else, but you must refer to them by default.
There are mainly two types of use cases for integrating Booking.com APIs.
Accommodation booking by travel providers. The model is quite simple. You enroll in the affiliate program and then use the Booking.com API and other affiliate products to either sell rooms from their inventory for a part of a commission or redirect users to Booking.com. The example of the former integration is Aegean Air, a Greek airline that allows travelers to book rooms in addition to flights. The latter is Rome2Rio.com, an itinerary planning and travel search platform. While Aegean uses full Booking.com functionality under its brand, Rome2Rio suggests accommodations, ratings, and pricing with range filters coming from the Booking.com inventory.
APIs for channel managers. Another major API package is Connectivity. It suggests channel managers and other connectivity providers integrating Booking.com as one of the sales channels. Examples for integration are all the popular accommodation channel managers that you can think of (SiteMinder, Dhisco, DerbySoft, etc.) Also keep in mind that Booking.com doesn’t allow properties to connect directly. If you’re a hotel owner, you must connect via a channel manager only. You can set your property management page on the Booking.com portal and pick your channel manager from there.
While they are subsidiaries of the same holding company, there are some differences both in terms of business models and the ways they partner with affiliates.
Booking.com is an online travel agency, meaning that travelers pay a hotel directly for a stay including a fee to an affiliate and Booking itself. They use a progressive approach to affiliate earnings. In other words, the more checkouts per month you generate, the higher your earning rate is. For instance, if you bring only 0-50 customers, your rate will be 25 percent. If you make 501 or more, you get 40 percent. Booking provides an API. You can also place branded banners and widgets on your website or integrate a search box.
Agoda combines a travel agency model (similar to Booking.com) with that of a wholesaler. The latter means that at some hotels they purchase an inventory in advance to sell at a higher rate. Agoda also suggests a progressive approach, but in this case, you can get 35-60 percent in commission earnings. You can use an API, Agoda ads, links to integrate with the portal, and some other tools.
As you’ve guessed, Booking is a more robust and complex product than Agoda. And it deals with a lot more customers daily, being the largest accommodation OTA in the world. It’s also a more trusted one. On the other hand, with Agoda you have the potential of earning a higher commission per checkout.
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.
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?