Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
December 05, 2013

APIs Powering the Travel Industry


Two weeks ago, Mashery sent a team focused on expanding APIs in the travel industry to the PhoCusWright Conference down in Florida.  It was a great event highlighting the innovation and progress that is ongoing in the travel and hospitality space, and it helped confirm the idea that APIs are a key and vital piece of the innovation puzzle in the travel industry.

One of the main themes of the conference was improving the travel experience for the consumer.  When we think about travel, there are really four phases that we can break it up into: planning, booking, traveling and reflecting.  The ability to share and access data and information is key for each of these steps.  To make each step easier, new data interactions need to be created so that everything a consumer needs is at their fingertips when they want it.

Providing the right data at the right time to the right user is a very difficult task – one that the majority of companies and speakers at PhoCusWright were focusing in on.  On top of creating the right user experience (which is incredibly difficult on its own), companies in the travel space need to gain access to the reliable and accurate data that can help them serve their users.  This remains a difficult task, but it shouldn’t be.

APIs, as a common and established way to share and manage data, should be at the core of master data management (MDM) at every travel company.  Data is key to most industries and companies, but for travel it’s vital to improving the consumer experience.  Take the planning and booking processes - there are now hundreds of apps and sites focused on helping you plan out and book your next trip. 

New players in travel are coming up with unique ways to engage the consumer.

Many of these innovators presented at the Travel Innovation Summit at the PhoCusWright Conference and were focused on improving processes relying on data from different sources (suppliers, OTAs, review sites, travel guides, etc.) to make these experiences happen. 

Major travel brands like IHG, Choice Hotels and British Airways are leading the pack with API programs that can enable innovation and open up new partnership and channel opportunities for themselves. They use Mashery solutions to enable easy discoverability of their data and simple onboarding of partners. Making real-time availability, inventory and rate data available direct from the source is driving new revenue and increasing customer satisfaction.

For suppliers in the travel space (i.e. hotels and airlines), the innovation around booking, planning and traveling provides great opportunities to increase existing customer loyalty and satisfaction, while also attracting new customers.  By providing partners direct access to their data, they can enable consumers to interact with them in new and engaging ways.  Creating well-managed and secure API programs to create new channels that drive bookings, revenue and expand a supplier’s reach is a solution that has been picked up by some in the industry, but still lacks wide acceptance. IHG, Choice Hotels and British Airways are leading the pack in terms of creating API programs that can enable innovation and open up new partnership and channel opportunities for themselves.  Their competitors won’t be far behind.