There was a time when booking a trip meant going to a travel agent or directly to the airline or hotel to make reservations. Thanks to the internet, and the development of application program interfaces (APIs), that has changed. More people than ever are booking their entire trip online, with 83% of U.S. travelers booking travel online, nearly 150 million travel bookings made worldwide online each year, and an estimated 700 million people booking hotel rooms online by 2023.
With this much demand for booking travel online, travel companies are well aware of the need to join the digital ecosystem that the online travel industry has become. This is an ecosystem that is based on information sharing between hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, and all-in-one booking platforms. And to make this ecosystem possible, companies need to use APIs.
What APIs Do in the Travel Industry
An API allows communication to take place between disparate systems, devices, and software. This makes the access to data over the cloud possible, something that is critical for the online travel industry.
What this means is that both customers and third parties can access information and data directly from the systems of traditional players in the travel industry, such as airlines, tour companies, and hotels. It also means that these traditional players can offer other travel services on their own website. Here are some examples of what can be done with travel API
- Third-party travel platforms and app developers can use APIs to access data from airlines, trains, cruise companies, hotels, tour companies, car rentals, and more.
- An airline can also offer hotel bookings, tour bookings, and car rentals on their own website.
- A hotel can offer tour bookings, car rentals, and ticket sales for local events and entertainment.
- And airport can offer flight information, boarding passes and alerts, gate location, airport maps, local hotel bookings, and car rentals.
This makes it possible for customers to access all travel and accommodation options at the best prices via a single website, saving them time and money.
Benefits of APIs in Travel
The benefits of using APIs to grant this level of access to your data are many, including:
- Collection of customer data to offer more personalized service
- Empowerment of staff to make the customer experience better
- Improved customer loyalty
- Increased innovation
- Monetization of APIs for increased revenue
- Greater market share
- Increased sales
- Increased agility and adaptability
The API Strategy
To take advantage of the benefits of APIs, you need to develop a strategy that will help you design, create, publish, and manage your APIs. To do this, it is critical to understand the business goals your APIs are required to support. It may be that you want to focus on the customer experience on your own website. To you may want to provide your APIs to third-party platforms to gain access to more customers and increase sales.
You also need a thorough understanding of your IT infrastructure. This includes knowing where your data is stored, whether that is on a customer relationship management (CRM) application, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, a cloud-based data warehouse, or somewhere else.
Once you have these details worked out, you can design your APIs to suit your needs. Then commit to a pilot project and roll out your APIs in stages. This will give you time to adapt and make changes as required to optimize your APIs. Finally, ensure you have good API management in place for the governance and security of your digital ecosystem.
Companies in the online travel industry need to use APIs to remain competitive. When you do this, you will expand your reach in the marketplace, improve relationships with customers and industry partners, and empower innovation within your company. With APIs that are created, implemented, and managed effectively, you will become an key player in the online travel digital ecosystem.