With the rise of digital platforms, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are becoming a crucial part of many industries. They allow companies to share data and quickly build new tools, helping them stay ahead of the competition.
But APIs aren’t just for tech-focused businesses: They’re also becoming a popular solution for other industries, like hospitality. With so many customers using social networks and review sites to find hotels, travel agencies and hospitality groups use APIs to help reach these potential guests and manage their online presence.
Let’s take a look at some ways APIs are helping hospitality companies:
Meeting customers where they are: Hotels can use APIs to distribute their services through sites like Expedia and Kayak, which customers often turn to when looking for places to stay. Instead of building an entire website from scratch, hotel chains can use APIs to manage their listings and reviews on these sites, focusing on other areas while maintaining a robust online presence.
Marketing to Guests: Travel agencies can use APIs to access social media platforms, allowing them to send targeted messages that appeal to specific users. This helps them increase engagement with potential customers and build their reputation as thought leaders in the industry.
In this section of the hospitality tech trend series, we’re going to focus on APIs.
APIs, which provide a structured way for two pieces of software to talk to each other, can help companies in the hospitality industry track customer preferences across multiple channels and use them to provide custom services that go above and beyond expectations.
The most important trend in this area is API-driven messaging. Companies can use guest data from their booking system to automatically generate messages individually with the channel and voice that each person prefers. It creates a connection that goes far beyond what was possible in the past.
In addition, the company can send emails or text messages that have a human feel despite being generated automatically. They can have real-time interactions with guests through chatbots on their websites or apps, all while tracking guest behaviors and preferences to be used in other areas.
On the inside, APIs can help process millions of data points on customer preferences. Airlines like British Airways use APIs to connect their reservation systems to other platforms. A customer’s preferences can be used across the company’s website, mobile app, and kiosks in an airport.
The Smart Hotel Room API Trend
Hotels use APIs to build smart rooms that give guests a personalized, high-tech experience. This includes voice-controlled lighting, sound systems, temperature control, and more.
The smart room trend started with Amazon’s Alexa in the Hilton McLean in Virginia—now, we’re seeing more and more hotels creating their smart rooms with APIs.
With APIs, hotel companies can create a custom experience for guests and ensure they have everything they need right at their fingertips—literally!
It’s no surprise that the industry, as dedicated to hospitality as hotels, should be leading the way in creating comfortable experiences for their guests. What might be surprising is how many of those comforts come from APIs.
For instance, API integrations allow you to have a virtual doorbell and doorman. You never have to worry about missing a delivery when running late or wondering if your room service order will arrive on time. It also means that the moment you step into your hotel room, everything is set up exactly how you want it:
- The lights are at the perfect brightness.
- The TV has already been turned on.
- The temperature in your room has been adjusted to your ideal level.
And all of this happens automatically with just one simple API integration.
Hotels are also moving away from keycards and toward mobile check-in/check-out systems so guests can come and go as they please without waiting for someone at reception. It may sound like an annoyance, but it saves time for both parties: No more waiting around!
APIs are Becoming More Personalized
In the age of Amazon and Google, consumers expect services to be catered to their needs. As a result, the industry is transforming and becoming more personalized. Hotels can use APIs to make their experiences more personalized as well.
Let’s say you’re booking a room at the Marriott.
So when you enter the lobby, the staff will know who you are and how you like things (do you prefer a king bed? Do you want extra pillows?). They’ll also tell if there’s been any change in your reservation since it was made (if someone else joined your party, for example).
And once you’re up in your room, APIs can allow your hotel TV to show only content from channels relevant to your interests. It can help maintain your privacy by keeping other hotel guests from accidentally seeing what’s on your TV screen—even if they’re standing right next to it!
Using their API, you can sync your hotel booking to your calendar, your smartwatch, and even your smart doorbell so that it can alert you when a housekeeper is coming.
If you’re staying with an Airbnb host, you might get access to an API that lets you book a taxi or airport shuttle through their system.
API-Based Platform Architecture
The API-based platform architecture is a way of building software components that are designed to be easily shared and integrated. They typically connect to different systems, such as databases, to bring information together in one place. They can be either public or private, often used as part of microservices.
APIs have been around for a while, but they were initially used only as interfaces between two applications built by the same company. Over time, however, it became common to use APIs to access third-party services. Now API-based platforms are becoming more popular for internal processes within companies.
You’re probably familiar with the Open Banking initiative, which provides an API to let you link your bank account to third-party apps. Similarly, in the hospitality industry, hotels and other lodging providers rely on APIs to integrate with a growing range of third-party services.
With an API, you can open up your services to new distribution channels. You can also use APIs to connect different parts of your business into a single ecosystem that serves your customers better than any one piece alone could.
APIs are becoming a must-have for businesses in the hospitality industry.
It’s not just about being able to offer your guests more—it’s about doing it at a rate that’s relevant to their needs and habits.
Messaging APIs Provide a Way to Automate Tasks and Provide a Better Guest Experience
Messaging APIs are becoming more and more popular in the hospitality industry, and for a good reason! They provide a way for front desk staff to automate tasks, improve the guest experience, and even generate new business from your guests.
The API itself is essentially a line of code that allows two programs or applications to communicate with each other. The API’s instructions tell one application what to do and how to do it so it can connect with another application.
Many popular apps have an API that you can use to integrate their functionality—this is why we see so many integrations happening between Slack and other apps. The API allows one app (Slack) to communicate with another app (like Salesforce or Intercom), which means you can pull information from Salesforce into Slack by using the API.
So why would a hotel need an API? Some reasons include:
- Automate your communications (guest check-in/check-out notifications, etc.)
- Allow guests to book from messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger
- Allow guests to send messages directly through your website or app instead of calling for assistance
APIs are an Opportunity for Revenue
Hotels and restaurants have been around for a long time. But these days, it’s not enough to have a clean, comfortable space and good food. You’ve got to have an experience.
And APIs are the way to do that.
Here are four ways APIs can help you generate more revenue from your restaurant or hotel.
- Companies can build mobile apps to make room service easier.
- Online reservation systems can be customized for your business.
- Special offers and promotions can be sent directly to customers’ phones.
- Restaurants can use APIs to set up delivery services.
APIs Enhance Customer Experience
In an era when customers expect personalization, APIs are key players.
In fact, it’s not even enough to provide your customers with the best quality of service. It has to be personalized too. And that’s where APIs come in.
APIs enable businesses to get to know their customers and deliver experiences that are personal, efficient, and effective. That means you have access to data about what your customer likes and doesn’t like, so you can use targeted marketing and promotions to keep them coming back for more—as opposed to generic advertising that might not speak to them directly.
You can also use APIs to tailor your customer experience by offering personalized services and options based on their preferences or history with you.
Further, APIs help you automate processes so that your customers don’t have as much downtime during their experience (for example, they won’t have to wait while you process a payment). This helps ensure that they’re getting exactly what they want at the moment they want it, which is critical in this age of instant gratification.
In the hospitality industry, APIs are being used to improve external experiences and internal processes.
Whether it’s booking a hotel room or booking a flight, APIs can help consumers find what they want quickly. For example, with hotels, if a consumer is searching for a room in a specific location, APIs can be used to pull from multiple sites to provide one fast result.
On the internal side, airlines and hotels are using APIs to ensure employees access the information they need when working with customers. This means employees aren’t bogged down by inefficient administrative processes and can instead focus on providing customers with a positive experience.