The new world of Push APIs make travel sales a pushover
Quick – what does API stand for? Come on, you can remember – it’s not long ago you went to tech school.
If the first thought that popped into your head was Application Programming Interface, give yourself a reasonably light pat on the back.
NB: This is a guest article by Peter Mill from Skyscanner for Business.
Despite common use throughout the industry as a technology, the basics behind APIs are often long forgotten.
A neat way to define APIs is that they put the seamless into integration. At its simplest, an API is a software program that interfaces with another without the user getting involved, or even knowing anything about it.
A good analogy is that an API allows limited, controlled access by one program to another in the same way that a passport allows a citizen of one country to enter another with (usually) the minimum of disruption.
APIs develop into push APIs
Of course, APIs are nothing new, they have been quietly working away in the background for years. When you receive an invitation to a meeting through your email, for example, it’s an API that enables to you automatically add that meeting to your calendar.
So now we’ve got that cleared up, onto my next tricky question: what are push APIs?
Very different from common-or-garden APIs, these “push” data out to the user whenever it changes. For this reason, push APIs are widely used in the travel industry.
- British Airways might push a message to a customer reminding them to print out boarding passes for an upcoming flight
- an app such as Tripit could advise one of its users that their flight is delayed
- OTAs such as Expedia send out push notifications of their latest holiday offers via email.
Even more innovative and sophisticated use of push APIs for end users is sure to be on the cards.
You can bet, for example, that with the rise of wearable tech fuelled by the launch of the Apple Watch, app developers will be vying with each other to come up with ever smarter ways of attracting and engaging their customers’ attention by proving exactly the right data at just the right time.
Push APIs are also increasingly used in the B2B2C travel space. They can provide dynamic pricing or real time currency exchange rate services for third party OTAs.
They can sit at the heart of cutting edge white label products that power flight, hotel and car hire bookings for brands too busy and too successful to see the need for developing their own.
APIs can work across verticals and geographies. Skyscanner for Business works with partners such as Lonely Planet and Triposo, a travel inspiration app, are powering their flight search through Skyscanner’s white label product.
B2B ready to profit
Which brings me onto the final and perhaps most interesting use of push APIs in the travel space – pure play B2B.
In simple terms, this is where the API owner pushes data to airlines or OTAs, usually on a subscription basis, providing invaluable insights that can directly inform their strategic direction or pricing policy.
The latest analytics product available from Skyscanner for Business for its current flight partners is an example of just such a service.
Travel Rankings allows partners to gain a holistic, real-time view of user trends and market share.
The service’s push API can tell partners when a customer searches on one of their routes – and here’s the really interesting part – whether their airline or OTA competitors are beating others on price, and by how much.
Not only that, but they can find out immediately how much a price need to drop by to become competitive again on the route. Or if ranked number one for price, by how much of a margin.
This information is a game changer for the airline industry because it enables companies to react to price fluctuations in seconds rather than hours.
Push API services are about to revolutionise the business world and the travel industry is no exception. Without a doubt, you’ll be hearing a lot more about this technology in in the coming weeks and months.
Just remember where you heard it first!
NB2: Skyscanner was one of the main sponsors for the THack Dublin event this May. Click here to read Tnooz’s coverage of the event “Proximity-based and time-limited apps capture interest on the Emerald Isle”
NB3 Image by Shutterstock
Special Nodes is the byline under which Tnooz publishes articles by guest authors from around the industry.