These days, most activity and attraction operators come to us talking about “APIs.” It’s a word they’ve heard before, and they know they should somehow have one to help with their online bookings, but beyond that, their understanding is hazy. APIs (Application Programming Interface) are the means for one program to talk to another. Think of them like a receptor into which data is received or — in even more simplistic terms — an electrical outlet into which a plug is placed.
The reality is that what Operators are looking for is Connectivity so they can streamline and automate the flow of data between their website booking systems and the online resellers the operators are working with. Connectivity is the conduit that enables the APIs to do their work. Think of connectivity like the pipes that allow water to flow from its source to the sinks, showers, and hoses that we all use everyday.
With that in mind, Redeam wants to break down these connectivity explanations further. In the upcoming months and years to come, you’ll be hearing more about another term — Channel Manager — and we want to be sure you clearly understand the differences among the terminology.
Think of simple connectivity as just one single pipe connecting point A to point B. For instance, a pipe that connects a water well to a spigot. So long as that spigot is open, water flows from it freely; water remains in the pipe and in the well when the spigot is closed. With connectivity, its information that passes along the two points on the pipe freely.
In terms of activity and attraction operators, the two points may be your booking system (point A) and an online travel agent (OTA) who’s reselling your tickets. The connectivity allows the OTA (point B) to access your ticket inventory to sell it, and when a sale is made, the connectivity passes that booking information back into your system. Connectivity allows all that to happen seamlessly and touchlessly, without an operator having to log into the OTA’s extranet to upload available inventory, ticket types, and pricing.
Having some kind of Connectivity is growing ever more important in the landscape of selling through third parties like OTAs. Many OTAs are beginning to give preferential treatment to Operators who have connections; others are diminishing Operator visibility of those who do not have connectivity. In a time of staff cut backs, the ability to reduce the need for human intervention is more important than ever. Connectivity makes that reduced intervention possible.
Complex connectivity utilizes the same basic system of passing data back and forth between points, but instead of there being just one single end point, there are multiple end points. For instance, in this illustration, your booking system (point A) connects with four unique resellers (points B – E). In each instance, the information that gets passed back and forth is based on the transactions of each individual reseller on your behalf. And again, this connectivity allows the passage of all this data in a seamless, effortless manner for you. Connectivity is what allows you to more easily manage multiple relationships with many more resellers.
Just as valves and other mechanisms do on a pipe system, so too does a channel manager allow even more control. Rather than having always-on pipes over which you, the operator, have no control, a channel manager gives you way more power. Power to make real-time decisions about how much of your data you want to allow to pass to your connected resellers. Power to temporarily turn off flow to resellers altogether if you’d like. When you have a channel manager in place, you can implement a yield management strategy to help you improve your profitability. Having a channel manager in place puts you in the driver’s seat, both on a daily business management basis and with the larger view negotiation power with your resellers it gives you.