5 Common And Expensive Mistakes When Doing a Hotel API Integration with Expedia, Priceline, Hotelbeds, Getaroom, TBO, Restel and more.
My name is Fernando Fortini, former Hotel API Integration Consultant for several wholesalers and online travel agencies like Hotelbeds, GTA, Tourico, Despegar, and Pricetravel. Therefore, after many years in the market, I realized specific integration issues are happening across all travel companies. Hence I will do my best to summarize the top 10 common and most expensive mistakes when doing a hotel API integration.
Indeed, this article is oriented toward anyone looking to be proactive and avoid losing money or improving their hotel booking conversion. Following this, the following list of issues is happening with all the big players in the market: Expedia, Priceline, Hotelbeds, Getaroom, TBO, Restel, and more. Definitely, a must-read list.
Despite every integration being different, as well as every company, to be successful in the travel industry, certain features must be the same everywhere, or at least, the concept. Therefore, if you are reading this and you are a non-technical person, you should ask your IT team or developer to always take into consideration the following items:
1. Hotel Mappings Issues
This may be the most known issue across the travel industry. Nevertheless, it is still a big issue for many as it can make your company lose serious money.
By definition, hotel mapping refers to merging property IDs from different sources. For instance, imagine mapping selling a 5-star hotel at 2-star rates. Does this sound crazy? This could happen if you are showing the content of “hotel X” but feeding rates from “Hotel Y.” In brief, to understand more about mappings, you could read another article I posted before: https://www.travcoding.com/what-is-hotel-mapping-and-which-tool-your-company-should-use-giata-gimmonix-vervotech-or-your-own/.
In contrast, this process is not something the big companies oversee or request when doing a certification with them. Probably because one supplier is just one feed and will not oversee your entire universe of inventory. However, as the company integrates its content and inventory, you should take the mappings seriously.
2. Non-Refundable Display
This is another critical point that should be constantly checked before going live or even after going live with a specific supplier. Indeed, this is part of the certification process with all the suppliers in the market, but sometimes it can get tricky.
These are the reasons:
- Even when the non-refundable are correctly displayed, the site’s usability needs to be transparent for the user. If the user cannot check this clearly, they can ask the credit card for a refund, and you will lose money.
- PRO tip: Try using bold fonts, and make the user acknowledge the policy with particular checkboxes or unique tags.
- Some suppliers send their dates in the past. Indeed, this happens quite often, and despite you developed everything properly, these things may make your code obsolete. Moreover, this is common when working with chains; they expect you to interpret past dates as non-refundable.
Finally, if you have any issue with non-refundables, as they state you cannot cancel them but sometimes you find a workaround (PRO tip: https://jenonajetplane.com/cancel-non-refundable-hotel-reservations/)
3. Important Information / Voucher Remarks (Resort fees, etc.)
When re-selling hotel room nights and using different suppliers, the hotels’ special notes are essential information you want to convey to the traveler. Most of the time, these special notes are also called Important Information or Voucher Remarks and contain information about fees payable at the property. Hence, when not showing these notes clearly, the price shown could be misleading from the actual price that needs to be paid at the property.
Despite this issue being a significant pain in the industry, not all hotels and suppliers send this information in a proper field. Indeed, most cases come as a text field in the API responses. For example:
From the example above, we have:
- On the left, the total price of the reservation.
- On the right, a hotel special notes.
Point number 2 shows things like age limits, check-in policies, or even additional charges, and despite how important these are, not all suppliers properly provide this information. Again, imagine yourself as a traveler, paying $372 for a hotel but then realizing you need to pay an additional $357 when getting to the hotel.
4. The wrong distribution Channel
Basically, distribution channels in regard to lodging API integrations refer to the type of rates we will get through the feed according to your business model. For example, if you are signing an agreement as a business-to-business only company; you may receive a wholesale feed. On the other hand, if you have a public-facing website, you may receive a B2C feed.
Although setting up a distribution channel seems more of a configuration issue, the distribution type needs to be established when doing a Hotel API Integration from scratch. By doing this, the system can be programmed accordingly, for example:
- If having a B2C feed, you may have to develop a minimum selling price.
- If you have a B2B feed, you may have to properly understand if is net or commissionable, to distribute the rates properly.
Equally important is to always respect the assigned distribution channel agreed upon with each supplier before going live. Without a doubt, your company can lose money if this is not accomplished, as the supplier could also get into trouble.
5. Handling Errors at Checkout
Finally, we arrived at the last issue of the post, handling errors at the checkout when using a prepaid feed. Although this may sound simple, if this is not handled appropriately from the beginning, you can make your company lose money.
Common Wrong-Handled Issues:
- Send a Booking Request through the API before collecting payments.
- This is not good when booking non-refundables and not being able to charge the traveler but having a confirmed reservation.
- Timeout Sessions during the Checkout.
- This is not good either; imagine completing a booking, but while loading, the session expires. The page will be refreshed, the user won’t know to see the booking until he gets the credit card statement.
- Collecting Payments Not Considering the Supplier Response
- This is not critical, but still a pain for the user who will be charged and then need to be refunded.
Ideally, the best scenario is to always have a charge to the payment card, book with the supplier, and then capture the payment card again.
Role of Travcoding to Provide a Single Solution to all these issues
Travcoding is a leading Travel Technology company dedicated to designing white label and custom travel solutions for travel wholesalers and other unique customer verticals where travel is desired. In addition, their robust, automated Web-based platform is designed with built-in features to seamlessly manage customer subscriptions, and registrations without the hassle of doing so. What’s more depending on the size and requirements of your business, you can customize your travel products to provide the best value to your customers and internal company members through our integrated back office. To conclude, you’ve selected the benefits and customized the booking portal; you can launch an online travel company and market hotels and other travel services.
Finally, you can find out more here: www.travcoding.com