Today's travellers expect a simple, fast and user-friendly experience whenever they search, book and pay for a hotel. In order to satisfy these demands, the travel industry has responded by finding new ways to work.
NB This is a viewpoint by Álvaro de Nicolás, CTO Technology for Hotelbeds.
Bedbanks in particular have been working in isolation, each one developing its own connectivity, its own content structure and its own booking process leading to different response times and different information.
This makes it difficult for tour operators and online travel agents, forcing them to integrate dozens if not hundreds of bedbank suppliers with no defined standard.
One example of the type of problem this creates is that several bedbanks present cities as destinations in their booking APIs, while other APIs present them as zones within destinations.
A similar situation occurs when the same hotel can exist as a different property if the property address or the name is inconsistent or if the room and board types are described with non-standard terms.
Taking into consideration this multi-supplier complexity, the tour operator or OTA must understand how each property works in order to be able to combine the different XML connections in a single feed. The challenge for the suppliers of the room inventory is to be able to adapt to tour operators' or OTAs' demand for flexibility and not rely on unique integrations that are expensive to develop and maintain.
Another challenge that the travel industry faces is to reduce opacity. The vast majority of travel trade APIs are closed systems, reflecting different commercial terms which are generally complex to understand. This means that developers from the tour operator and OTA end-user need to work directly with developers from the bedbank, increasing complexity and making the process harder to manage.
As a consequence, a lot of detailed documentation is required which, in some cases, could include outdated data or incomplete examples. In addition, the integration process requires CSV files, FTPs, Excel and text files to get hotel content which makes the developer’s experience worse and the integration process slow, difficult and expensive.
JSON allows for lighter and faster integrations with more condensed information passed back and forth, which also makes it ideal for mobile apps.
A lighter and faster solution
Traditionally, travel industry innovation has been focused on business models and the customer experience, but rarely has the developers' experience been taken into account. Other industries such as communications and social media have made integration between applications as easy as possible for the developer. The travel industry likes to work on a better and simpler front-end for customers while ignoring how easy or difficult it would be for the coders to integrate these changes.
In this context, Hotelbeds has brought the innovation that exists in other industries to travel and have made a great effort to take into consideration what OTAs and tour operators were demanding: simplicity.
The Hotelbeds’ API team has brought to bear their more than ten years of experience, helping properties to integrate and solve these issues in every step of the way. By collaborating with several client's development teams, as well as a number of developers from other industries through Hackathons (such as THack Dublin and THack Hamburg), Hotelbeds is capable of offering the best integration experience, not just technical support. This step forward will help them to continue focusing on simplicity.
The product that Hotelbeds’ integration experts have developed is called APItude, a distribution API suite designed to help partnering developers create their own travel websites or mobile application for free. Created by developers for developers, it also makes the booking process easier, faster and more intuitive than the industry average. APItude is up to 50% lighter and 30% faster, dramatically improving the developer experience.
These achievements are not just a tweak but a fundamental re-engineering, making it faster and providing customers with more rich content, property descriptions and information.
By integrating three different APIs - the Booking API, the Cache API and the Content API - APItude allows the tour operator or OTA control over the whole booking process with only one application. It presents multilingual and detailed information regarding the available hotels featured in the database and provides direct access to pricing and availability of hotel rooms from the Hotelbeds database.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the API can be custom-made depending on the OTAs' or tour operators’ needs.
And did we mention that it is open-source?
Customization code is possible because APItude presents an open code environment –open source SDK (Software Development Kit)- and includes various demo examples. In addition, APItude is easy to understand even without specialist technical knowledge, enhancing the convergence between commercial and development teams and ensuring that the commercial team can have more control during the integration phase.
Because of all of these improvements, clients who choose Hotelbeds APItude will migrate to a much quicker and lighter solution, reducing the steps in the booking funnel in 90% of cases, which reflects in reduction in transmission times, waiting times, processing times and possible errors.
NB This is a viewpoint by Álvaro de Nicolás, CTO Technology Hotelbeds. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
For more information about APItude, click here.