5 years ago
 

Five travel APIs to beef up website user experience

NB: This is a guest article by Valentin Dombrovsky, CEO of Travelatus

With the volume of travel APIs that exist out there, it’s hard to know what might best enhance user experience and/or add value.

The travel directory on Programmableweb is a good place to start with stats on more than 150 but only a few offer something more than just the possibility of selling some kind of inventory.

And, these are the ones that offer interesting opportunities for your site – no matter who you are, an OTA, an airline or a hotel chain, for example.

In this article I’ll try to cover some that I have found and that I plan to use in future for Travelatus (which is, by the way, a very API-dependent project).

Rome2rio

Short description: Rome2rio provides a multimodal search engine that includes 700 airlines and two million surface routes, including extensive rail coverage in Europe, India, Japan, North America and China and even intercity bus, rail and ferry coverage across the globe. The project itself claims that it turns transportation search from “airport to airport” to “destination to destination” and that seems to be true if you try to compare a search from Ghent (Belgium) to Genoa (Italy), for example, with any other transportation search engine.

The solutions include:
• Search API that provides train, bus, ferry, air, driving and walking routes between any two points.
• Geocode API that allows searching specific places latitude and longitude of specific place (for example, Stonehenge) via text search
• iphone integration via Rome2rio iphone app.
• Whitelabel solution that allows customizing the search look and branding and even including own affiliate links in search results.

Why do you need this:

Well, you know that online travel planning still looks like it is broken and multi-modal transportation search is definitely a thing that can help to solve part of this problem. You can give your users a way to search transport on a “door to door” basis showing them different possibilities and making travel trip planning more flexible in terms of time/money ratio. The challenge, however, is to apply this tool wisely, facilitating travel search instead of making it harder.

More info on API

 

DealAngel

Short description:

DealAngel (featured in Tlabs on April 2012) claims they prevent travelers from overpaying for hotel rooms. They use historical pricing data over an extended period of time to predict how much each hotel should charge for its rooms depending on a particular competitive situation on a given day in the future. They say it allows gauging whether an actual price is a good deal or a rip-off. On top of that DealAngel provides insights into what dates are more (or less) expensive so that travelers could avoid high-demand dates if they are flexible and save even more. The launch of an API (so far in closed beta) was announced in November 2012 in partnership with social travel site Gogobot.

Why do you need this:

Nobody likes being ripped-off. DealAngel API allows running a ‘backgorund check’ on hotels pricing and filtering rates that represent great value from overpriced offers. In general DealAngel makes a step to make hotel pricing more transparent and that is a good move. So, the spread of this (or similar) solution may be good for travelers and/or for the travel industry as a whole.

Unfortunately, there’s no info on API on open access but you can contact project team via email api@dealangel.com.

Evature

Short description:

Evature – The winner of DEMO Award for the Most Game-Changing Travel Innovation at the PhoCusWright’s 2011 Travel Innovation Summit (TLabs Showcase here) – provides semantic search solution for travel search. What’s more? The API has a significant list of projects that use it for their needs: it includes iCruise, Flight and Hotel, and Russian based travel search engine Amargo. There was even a mash-up with Twitter API made by Skyscanner – Flyscan, which was closed in May 2011 (so guess, there’s some space to experiment here). In April 2012 Evature announced a free version of its API which has limitation of 100 requests per day.

Why do you need this:

I think that semantic search solutions are still underestimated. There’s some place for experiments (like the one with Twitter described above) but more important is the opportunity to combine semantic search with voice recognition to bring new features into mobile applications. I think it will make search and booking via mobile a lot easier and that is a Holy Grail that everyone is looking for right now.

More info on API

FlightStats

Short description: Flights information APIs field is rather crowded with a bunch of APIs (all having “Fly” or “Flight” part in their names) providing information on flight status, aircraft delay or weather information. The list includes FlightAware, FlightCaster, FlightView, FlyOnTime. I’ll write a bit more on the FlightStats API – it looks like that it has a most considerable set of features. It provides:

• Flight Status & Track info (including alerts for flight status information)
• Schedules/Connections
• Airports information
• Delay Index (level of departure delays a specified airport is currently experiencing)
• Ratings of a flight’s performance relative to other flights
• Weather forecasts

It’s worth noting that it’s used by some online travel industry leaders and by Apple’s Siri.

Why do you need this:

Of course, flight information is mostly demanded when the user is already on his way to let him plan his journey in real time (that problem is solved by App in the Air, which also uses FlightStats API, among a bunch of other mobile applications) but that’s not the only case. Web applications can use flight information to help users to choose their flight more wisely (and combined with Rome2rio API, for example, offer some alternative ways of transportation if it’s clear that air is not the best way). In general any flight information API can help making the trip more comfortable and avoid unexpected bustle.

More info on API

InKnowledge Taxi Fare Calculator

Short description:

Last but not least, InKnowledge Taxi Fare Calculator provides taxi fare information for 150 cities around the world. The service was included as an app into Bing Maps in 2010. The company claims that it works with taxi companies from around to world to ensure that the calculated fares are reasonably accurate.

Why do you need this:

Well, this information would be nice for those who want to provide their users with city navigation information and let them know the cost of their travel within some destinations. Again a mash-up with the Rome2rio API could be created to allow user search for city routes and to compare prices for different ways of transportation.

More info on API

So that’s just a handful of the travel APIs that I found while looking for something to enhance UX or just occasionally. It will be interesting to read your comments on this selection and maybe something about your experience with using different travel APIs.

NB: This is a guest article by Valentin Dombrovsky, CEO of Travelatus

NB2: Technology image via Shutterstock

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
 
 
Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries.

 

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Psycho

    News from DealAngel:
    DealAngel’s new Trends feature helps you book a hotel at the right time to get a good price – http://thenextweb.com/apps/2013/03/04/dealangel-trends-book-hotel-right-time/

     
  2. Tony

    > [Rome2rio] provides … routes between any two points.

    Getting around that “don’t make things more complicated for the user” issue could be with something like Walk Score’s Travel Time API — http://www.walkscore.com/professional/travel-time-api.php which gives travel times (also transit, driving, walking) from an origin to _many_ destinations.

     
  3. Paul

    Thanks to this article I looked into Rome2Rio and their API. I found their whitelabel solution quick and easy to implement and is easily adapted to your website.

    Had a few emails back and forth with the guys there and had it up and running with a couple of weeks.

    http://trips.mypostcardfrom.com

     
  4. sinzone

    Some more travel APIs

    https://www.mashape.com/laiello

     
  5. Greg Solovyev

    Is the link to InKnowledge correct? The webpage gives a Service Unavailable error.

     
  6. Gil Keinan

    Have a look at ICE Portal. We have a free API for distributors to display Visual Content (Photos, Videos and Virtual Tours). No cost to distributors for content or use of API.

     
  7. El Kaim William

    Dear @valentin

    I think this list has no “value per se” unless you discuss the business need and model behind each API … The main question being are you willing to pay to offer more services to your users, or do you want to monetize new features obtained through API?

    You also do not discuss multiple possible solutions for the same need. If you consider Traffic API, you can use:
    http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/javascript/reference.html#TrafficLayer
    http://www.mapquestapi.com/traffic/
    http://developer.yahoo.com/traffic/rest/V1/index.html

    So how to select one API and not another and why?

    Finally, not all API are mobile “friendly” (not too chatty) …

    May be a good opportunity for TNOOZ, top create a travel API dedicated web site with examples of usage and people rating … A kind of tripadvisor for API.

     
    • Psycho

      Thanks for your valuable comment and advice El Kaim.
      Of all APIs the only one that can be used for additional monetization is Rome2rio (you can monetize via adding your affiliate links on white label solution), I guess, – all others give an information that can be valuable to user.

      Speaking about different solutions for the same needs – well, I said about some variants of flight APIs, though I didn’t cover each of them (guess, it would be too much and not so interesting). I didn’t find that much “not-selling” travel APIs, though I tried to search thoroughly.

      You wrote about some traffic APIs and that’s a valuable addition, though I have to notice that there’s some difference between traffic API and multi-modal search engine like Rome2rio.

      Speaking about mobile we can tell that FlightStats and Rome2rio surely have solutions for mobile and I don’t know about others, unfortunately.

      “API tripadvisor” would be great. There’s directory on Programmable web but I think here we can make it better in terms of travel APIs.

      Finally, I wrote that we plan to use some of these solutions and I hope to write an article on our experience a bit later.

      Thanks again.

       
  8. Misha Denisov

    Thanks! Интересно

     
 
 

Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel