Travel websites are all about connectivity – both to your suppliers and your customers.
The holy trinity here is:
- Live availability and pricing
- Instant confirmation
- Ticketless admission
Connect where possible
Users do not want to sit around waiting for on-request products to be confirmed. More likely than not they are booking on a mobile device whilst already on holiday. To achieve the above you will need to be connected to your suppliers API. If they don’t have an API it could be possible to scrape the supplier’s public website or their agent portal.
If you are a supplier yourself, then you want to have as many of your agents as possible booking directly into your system via an API. Most off the shelf travel systems will come with an API already, but if not then you should consider building one. It’s not as difficult as it sounds – the technology part of it is actually very easy. The difficulty and delays will always be caused by your data – if your system is set up for internal use only, then suddenly exposing it to the outside world may cause you to expose more than you bargained for – like your net rates.
But don't go crazy
Don’t get suckered-in to thinking that everything must be connected – particularly when people want to connect to you. You may think that someone connecting to your API is a no brainer – but not always. If they connect and then don’t deliver any bookings if they are a client, or any new products if they are a supplier, then you have all wasted your time. People connecting to you will still suck up a lot of your time – with tech support issues, product issues, testing problems, go-live issues, and then problems with billing further down the line if the connection was rushed. Like they forgot to push “their ref” through when they booked. Make sure a third party connection is worth it – an up front deposit could be a good idea – offset against future bookings. This will help to filter out the time wasters.