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.
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.
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.
Booking.com, as well as most major OTAs, has its own web interface, an extranet. Basically, the extranet is a dashboard for managing a property. There you can add photos of your property, provide rates, define policies, configure payments, etc.
But there’s a problem with using an extranet. If you want to list your property at multiple OTAs like Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia, and more, you have to manually update room availability in each separate extranet belonging to different OTAs.
That’s why some hotels - those that want to distribute their properties via many channels at once - use channel managers. These systems have their own dashboards and automatically update room availability and property details across all connected OTAs. So, hotel owners can operate using channel manager software only.
But since there are many small property owners that are fine with managing their rooms manually in a handful of OTAs, they stick with extranets. It’s likely that the majority of hoteliers listing their properties at Booking.com are doing so.
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?
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.
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.