An “API” is one of those technical terms that you might hear a lot these days, but you’re not quite sure what it means. API is actually an acronym for Application Programming Interface…but that’s not going to help you understand it any better, is it? APIs let one computer program talk to another in a seamless way.
As one analogy puts it, “Think of an API like a menu in a restaurant. The menu provides a list of dishes you can order, along with a description of each dish. When you specify what menu items you want, the restaurant’s kitchen does the work and provides you with some finished dishes. You don’t know exactly how the restaurant prepares that food, and you don’t really need to.”
A similar analogy compares the restaurant’s waitstaff to the APIs – they take your order to the kitchen, the kitchen prepares it, the waitstaff brings it back to you, and you enjoy a satisfying meal. You never see the kitchen or the chefs, and they never see you. You may even speak a different language than the chefs do, and yet you get the food you ordered.
If you’re not into food, how about using a transportation analogy. Think about a high-speed express train that takes airport passengers from the airport to a downtown terminal. It makes no stops along the way because its sole job is to transport its “packages” (in this case people, but in the case of APIs the packages are data) from Point A to Point B…and possibly back again.
I’m an Activity, Attractions, Things To Do, Live Events Operator. How can APIs help me?
If you run any kind of attraction, activity, or live event business, you might not think APIs are for you. “Those APIs have to be for techie companies,” you may say to yourself. But the reality is, these days, if you’re selling online, you are a techie company, and you can benefit from APIs! Let’s list the ways:
- Easily Increase Your Ticket Sales Reach – How are you selling your tickets today? Are you selling online? Are you selling through other online companies like online travel agencies (OTAs) and other third parties? These other websites are various “channels,” and the sum total of all these channels is called your distribution. If you’re not using channels and a distribution strategy now, you definitely should be. Distribution can help you sell more tickets 24/7! And many distribution channels are already using APIs to make them more efficient.
- Automate and Reduce Manual, Repetitive Processes – If you are already working with channel partners, think about how you have to manage them. Typically, you have to log into their extranet and upload or change the booking inventory and pricing you want to provide to them. You may also need to log in to change your content and view your sales reports. If you’re working with multiple channel partners, depending on how often you want to do any of this or make changes, you may incur a lot of manual processing time. APIs can be set to automatically send and receive data that you might have otherwise had to manually change. This helps to reduce your manual time and streamline your processes which has the added benefit of…
- Reduce Human Error (& costs associated with them) – The problem with repetitive manual processes is that they can frequently lead to errors. When people know what they’re doing, their diligence can lapse over time. Plus, there’s also the very human occasional mistake or accidental keystroke entry that can radically impact your product marketing until it’s caught. Since APIs are fully automated, you can avoid these kinds of inconvenient or costly human errors.
- Saving Labor Costs or Re-Allocating Staff Time – Unless you like having people on your payroll to just do boring manual tasks, the idea of saving time or using someone’s time more productively should hold vast appeal. These days, many activities and attractions find it difficult to find people to fill jobs and retaining these employees could be tough, too. If your team is already struggling with an understaffing issue or you want to use your people’s time more productively, you could benefit from relying on APIs to do the work for you.
- Advance on the Pathway Towards Digitization – If you’ve struggled to stay on top of digital technology, taking advantage of API solutions will be a big leap forward. And this doesn’t mean you have to build APIs yourself. Many companies, Redeam included, already build and maintain APIs and API-based solutions specifically so you don’t have to. Think of the Internet. You didn’t have to build the Internet to get online and use it, and now most of the time it just works, and we all take it for granted. All those big Internet Service Providers behind the scenes are the ones who maintain our connections and keep the Internet working like a well oiled machine. Neither do you have to build and maintain APIs to have your own well oiled machine.
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API Networked Skyline image courtesy of geralt on Pixabay
Waiter image courtesy of Antony on Pixabay
Train image courtesy of Shutterbug75 on Pixabay