In our internet-connected world, you are likely to use PMS, Booking Engine, CRM, or other hotel software. However, along with these products, you’ve probably heard the abbreviation API from your tech or innovation provider. This abbreviation may sound a little confusing and be pretty difficult if you are not familiar with SOAP, WSDL, HTTP, and XML.
In the meantime, the knowledge of what APIs are and how they work is essential for any forward-thinking hotelier. According to the State of API Economy 2021 report by GoogleCloud, APIs powered digital transformation in 2020 and are going to be even more important this year. Another survey by RapidAPI showed that API usage increased in the previous year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to rise in 2021, and the number of APIs grows with the size of the company.
Becoming successful in the modern hospitality sector is unlikely without leading-edge technology that revolutionizes both the way of doing hotel business and client experience. So, let’s get down to it and explore what APIs are and how to use them, as well as why they are important for the hospitality industry.
What are APIs?
"API" (Application Program Interface) is a tool for communication between different components of programs and systems. It is a set of methods to enable data sharing between applications.
There are two formats of this data exchange - XML and JSON, the latter being simpler and thus prevailing nowadays. Hotels use many programs in everyday operations: internal, which store and process hotel data, such as room availability, rates, etc., and external systems, e.g., payment gateways, which allow your guests to pay for rooms and services securely. For a smooth money transfer from the guest's account to your company's, your room management software needs to "talk" properly to various payment platforms, for instance, PayPal. And an API is a protocol that makes this integration possible. In other words, APIs are the lingua franca - the common language - of the software world.
Categories of APIs
Depending on their function, APIs fall into three categories. Firstly, Property Level Interface or operations APIs, which help to establish connections between different blocks of hotel management software, such as Front Desk, Housekeeping, Accounting, etc. The more vendors provide these modules, the more integrations are involved. To avoid any complications and glitches, it is better to choose products developed on one platform, from the same vendor. Secondly, distribution or ARI APIs (Availability, Rates, Inventory). You will need them if you want to sell rooms through OTAs and ensure instant consistency of rates and availability across all channels.
And finally, APIs for guest management and analytics. For example, guests can create an account on your hotel website using their Facebook data. Or your system will collect client reviews across various social media platforms in real-time so that you can respond promptly.
Based on release policies, there are the following types of APIs:
● Private APIs are aimed at improving solutions and services within a company. They are mostly used by in-house developers to integrate new systems or apps into existing systems.
● Partner APIs are shared with business partners.
● Public, developer-facing, or external APIs are available for any third-parties. They can be open and proprietary.
How you see, APIs are important as they help the entire hotel tech stack talk to each other and synchronize automatically without manual setup or update. Yet, how to choose the right one for your hotel business? Let’s find out below.
Open vs proprietary APIs. How to purchase the right API
New hospitality-related applications are coming onto the market almost daily, and APIs ensure that you can take advantage of them. Proprietary APIs have been around and very important for quite a while. But before you purchase a third-party API, make sure it meets the following criteria: it can easily be integrated with your Property Management System and other systems without any data loss or errors, has clear and detailed documentation of usage, follows standard best practices (REST/JASON supported), and ensures full security of your hotel data. Proprietary APIs often have an unpleasant hidden pitfall - regular updates, which are not free. Read all the terms and conditions carefully to clarify the aspect as these overhead expenses can exceed the initial API cost over a certain period of time.
Engine of progress
Open APIs - with transparent, publicly open layer- are freely distributed on the market. APIs which have an open interface architecture drive the whole sphere forward as hotels can use new systems beneficial for their business immediately, without additional expenses. For instance, Uber allowed adding the Request a ride feature to third parties. This is convenient if your hotel does not have its own shuttle service, but you would like it to be part of your mobile guest app. The future is about 360-degree integration with systems that we could not think of before. Imagine your restaurant module interfacing with the guest's medical data app to offer the most suitable dishes on the menu. The possibilities are virtually unlimited. The non-profit trade association Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), which facilitates the cooperation of technology and hospitality providers, has created an open APIs Registry, to make that information more accessible.
With free APIs, the hospitality industry is unstoppable.
While the potential of APIs is undeniable, how to select the ones that will work effectively for your hotel’s specific needs?
HotelFriend software is an ecosystem without additional expenses on APIs update
An efficient Hotel Management System is indispensable for a modern hotelier to achieve the increasingly challenging goal of being profitable and creating maximum comfort for guests.
A Customized Approach to Your Success
A set of HotelFriend software modules is built with internal APIs and provides flawless synchronization between products to make sure your hotel operations are running smoothly. Our cutting-edge SaaS solutions for the hospitality industry are cloud-based (powered by Amazon), which means you can scale up data anytime and you don't need a whole IT department. Transparent pricing and no hidden update costs are other distinct advantages.
All HotelFriend products work as one so you don’t have to pay extra for APIs update.
Moreover, if you use our property management system and would like to link to some popular external applications, our developers can create the necessary APIs to ensure seamless integration. We are open to collaboration and focused on our clients' success.
We provide a customized approach to your success where simplicity, transparency, effectiveness are the cornerstones of the products we are proud of.