API/GDS integration services are an indispensable part of an online travel portal as they fulfill the inventory needs of the travel agencies. Essentially, API is a set of web services that aids travel agencies in accessing travel deals in relation to flights, hotels, etc, from travel consolidators. Having the right inventory is essential for the success of a travel agency as it provides various options to customers to complete their travel bookings. Through API and GDS integration, customers and travel agents can view real-time availability and prices of flights, hotels, rental cars, etc in just a few clicks.
Having said that, choosing the right GDS supplier requires proper research based on the region, availability, the supplier’s rates, your requirements, and more such factors. For instance, one supplier may have a better inventory at better rates for your region as compared to another supplier. Moreover, every supplier may only provide inventory for one sector. Therefore, if your travel agency provides services for both flight and hotel booking, you will have to select a provider that provides inventory for both. To ease out the API/GDS supplier selection process, we will be discussing the 6 steps to choose API & GDS for your travel portal.
Brief Insights on API & GDS
Global distribution systems are the main data source for online travel agencies as GDS systems consolidate data from different travel service providers to enable travel agencies to make reservations on behalf of customers. Therefore, GDS systems streamline the process for online travel agencies eliminating the need for OTAs to connect with different airlines, hotels and other companies for their inventory needs. The GDS systems further provide APIs which can be integrated into the booking engines so as to provide support to travelers to make reservations.
The leading GDS suppliers in the market are Amadeus, Travelport, and Sabre. GDS systems mainly provide inventory for the below sectors:
- Hotel rooms
- Flight seats
- Rental cars
- Cruise lines and ferries
Steps To Choose API & GDS
Step 1 – Select the API/GDS suppliers that serve your required geographical location.
The first step towards selecting API & GDS for your travel portal is based on the geographical location your target audience belongs to. For instance, Amadeus is dominant in the European market while Sabre is dominant on the North-American market. Also, Sabre has dominance over hotel inventories as compared to Amadeus. On the other end, Travelport’s services are distributed evenly across North America, Asia, and Europe.
A few examples of APIs for hotel rooms that focus on locations are HotelBeds that are dominant in Asia and Europe, Travco which mainly supplies inventory from Europe, and Jac Travel with inventory from the GCC region. Therefore, before you shortlist the APIs & GDS, you need to check which GDS supplier is able to provide the best inventory in the region you will be serving.
Step 2 – Compare rates and inventory of each API/GDS supplier.
The next step is to look into the kind of inventory each API/GDS supplier provides and whether that would fulfill your requirement. You should also compare the rates charged by each supplier to select one that fits your budget. The API providers either require a deposit amount or a bank guarantee to access their inventory. Most of the providers prefer a bank guarantee and provide free access to their content in return for a commission.
Before shortlisting an API for your business, ensure you have detailed information on the rates, the integration process and the quality of inventory that would be supplied. Also, check the cancellation policy of different API providers to understand the profits that your travel agency would earn while XML integration with your travel portal.
Step 3 – Check if the XML structure is of a similar kind for the APIs you are integrating.
In case you decide to choose multiple APIs to source your inventory needs for different sectors, it is also important to consider checking that the APIs have the same XML structure. For instance, a few common features that all Hotel APIs provide are:
- They support multiple payment options
- They support multiple languages and currencies.
- The pricing packages are generally reasonable for all APIs.
- Travel agencies are given access to add-on services and customer support.
- The APIs are easy and quick to launch.
- The APIs support automated online software that is web-based.
- The APIs are customizable using back-office management tools.
Step 4 – Check if the GDS allows customization.
To enable customers to navigate between GUI and cryptic interface on the travel portal, it is important for the GDS to facilitate customization of the interface. Every business must be able to customize their services and offerings to stay in the competition. A good GDS enables customization which facilitates the refined search of travel-related products to make quick bookings for customers. If the travel agents are able to customize their travel products as per customer’s requirements, the chances of customers returning to the same online travel agency for future bookings increase.
Step 5 – Check if the GDS can implement updates.
One of the 6 steps to choose API & GDS for your travel portal is to check if the GDS can implement updates without the workflow being disrupted. Automatic implementation of updates helps businesses save costs related to downtime. Most of the latest versions of GDS systems have the ability to implement automatic updates. Therefore, while choosing the best GDS you should consider this capability of the GDS as well.
Step 6 – Ensure that the GDS you choose maximizes your brand value.
In the travel industry, customers don’t only require personalized services but also come back to your agency in the future if you are able to resolve their queries quickly and cater to their particular requirements. A travel agency that can provide all of the above quickly is able to build its brand loyalty, increase revenue, and sustain in the competitive environment. This is where GDS comes in the picture, as a good GDS system enhances the efficiency of the reservation process, thereby, offering customer satisfaction. GDS also provides a vast inventory that enables travel agencies to access real-time availability and prices of travel products So, you must ensure the GDS you choose is up-to-date and maximizing the value of your travel business.
These 6 steps to choose API & GDS for your travel portal would come in handy when you are confused about which GDS will be the best for your travel agency. Ensure to carefully evaluate your options before choosing a GDS in order to build customer-agent relationships and to providing the best services to your customers.