The power of open API in a corporate travel programme
The power of open API in a corporate travel programme
An introduction to open APIs
Talk of Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) may not appear to be the most exciting of topics, however when you realise how central they are to so much of the technology we use in our everyday lives, it is hard to imagine a world without them.
So what is an API?
An API is a set of requirements that oversees how one software application communicates and interacts with another. On a smartphone, mobile apps work using an API. The app connects to the internet and sends a request to the server via an API. Once this is received the server interprets it, performs the required actions and sends the data back to the mobile app through an API. The API is therefore the connection through which data travels.
An analogy commonly used to explain an API is a waiter at a restaurant. Customers have menus with a list of meal options, prepared by a team of chefs in a kitchen, however there needs to be a communication link to get the order from the customer (one system) to the chef (the other system). The waiter, is the API, they are the communicator between the customer and the kitchen. Once the kitchen receives the data they begin processing it, cooking the food. The waiter then delivers the response, in this case the food back to the customer.
The API is the connection through which data travels.
There are a range of APIs. Open APIs are most commonly discussed, and refer to publicly available APIs that provide access to a proprietary software application or website. However, open APIs make up just a small number of APIs; other types include Product APIs, Internal APIs and B2B APIs.
APIs have become key to the technology strategy of many businesses, due to a multitude of reasons including:
APIs open up access to enormous amounts of data and are thus extremely advantageous to businesses. They break down silos and connect often highly fragmented data. The data available has many uses to differing companies and APIs allow for the value of data to be utilised and reused.
The key to APIs and the reason we are so often unaware of them is that they are seamless. The user of the piece of technology is oblivious to the software applications handing data to another and vice versa.
APIs are SaaS – Software as a Service
Developers do not have to begin creating a new API each time a new one is needed. They can build upon ones already made.
APIs enable traditional businesses to be more agile thus appearing to have start-up, disruptor-like qualities. They allow for changes to be quickly made and information from varying sources to be integrated. APIs drive innovation to create newer and improved products, as well as forming new partnerships. Furthermore, over time APIs will decrease technology development time and required resources, which in turn will reduce cost. Businesses are under pressure from customers to adapt quickly and APIs are enabling this.
APIs are extremely valuable due to their revenue generating potential. The marketplace that has emerged surrounding APIs is regularly referred to as the API economy. The API economy has massively benefited the revenue of many companies, famous examples include e-Commerce companies Amazon and eBay. APIs are encouraging revenue growth by integrating platforms and extending the reach of the company’s data, content and technology to new customers as well as increasing influence to current customers.
APIs provide a layer of security, for example a computer is never fully exposed to the server and in turn the server does not have full access to the computer. Each system communicates only a small section of data.
APIs are the future
APIs have transformed the world we live in and provide endless possibilities; however they have not reached their full potential. Despite many businesses integrating APIs into their technology strategy, many are yet to do so or have not taken full advantage of the possibilities APIs present. Furthermore, APIs will become increasingly important as new ways to use data are discovered and methods of utilising data become increasingly clever. Likewise, APIs will become more advanced as businesses increasingly choose to run their APIs in the cloud, thus providing a greater ability to cope with peaks in demand.
APIs and the travel industry
The impact of APIs are reverberating around the travel industry and provoking one of the greatest changes the industry has seen. APIs have infiltrated the travel industry, especially leisure travel, and are increasingly helping to provide greater choice and richer content to travellers thus resulting in higher conversion.
Well known online booking sites such as Kayak and Skyscanner used to book flights benefit from APIs. Such sites do not have access to the airlines database; they interact with the airlines API and come back with the aggregated results from numerous airlines. APIs are therefore removing technological barriers to give travellers richer and more relevant content, regardless of whether they are booking a flight, hotel or car rental. Choice that has never been possible before.
It is not just companies such as Skyscanner and disruptors such as AirBnB and Uber that are harnessing the power of APIs, traditional travel companies have also started to embrace APIs to provide their customers with the content and choice they require and have become accustomed to in other areas of their lives.
ATPI has incorporated APIs into our technology strategy through our customisable online dashboard, ATPI TravelHub™, which has transformed the way clients’ manage their travel programmes.
The all-in-one dashboard benefits from open API technology, meaning the tool is not just powered by ATPI technology but by third party tools. The consolidation of all required tools into a centralised, single sign on environment 365/24/7, reduces leakage and drives compliance. Furthermore the
tool can balance the best local market products within a global programme.
ATPI TravelHub™ can be customised to each user. Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ view, users can adapt their portal to their specific needs, whether that be travel booking, budgeting or tracking.