API stands for Application Program Interface. Unless you’re developing an app, website or working in a tech-related profession, API probably remains as another acronym to you. The truth is you might have been using API on a regular basis without recognizing it: using voice recognition to convert text to speech on your messenger, trying to get price comparison for your next flight, or getting located on your food delivery app.
In our previous blog on “The Future of Hospitality Management System is here yet”, we have briefly mentioned Open API as a vital element to transform your regular cloud-based PMS into the ultimate future-proof hospitality PMS. Understanding what is API, the dynamic fundamental principle of how it works and the challenges that lies within to empower hoteliers to utilize the benefits of API at most.
What is an API?
The Application Program Interface is a set of defined rules and protocols, written in programming code that allows communication and data transmission between application software/computer software. API enables software companies to open up their products to their internal development teams, external 3rd party developers, and business partners to further functionality deployment and diversify its features.
In the past, it was extremely difficult for systems to speak to others, as they were server-based. Pretty much like having a computer without the Internet, an isolated island per se. Thanks to the exponential growth of the Internet, the software community has leaned toward favoring the hyper-connected platform ecosystem model instead. API comes in as a glue to connect within the applications or systems to exchange data freely. Neither it is an application nor a web server, but rather sits between the two. Acting as an intermediate layer, API plays the role of a middle man to facilitate the data transferring securely without intervening in the core system.
How does it work?
- First, initiating API calls: made by the software application or computer system needs to retrieve certain information from others.
- Upon receiving a valid request: then the API makes a call to the external software or systems.
- External software or system sends a response: to the API for the corresponding information.
- API accomplished the requests: by transmitting the required information back to the initiated software or system.
How many types of APIs are out there?
There are 3 types of APIs:
- Private APIs: is developed for internal uses only, within in-house development teams to integrate new applications or systems to its existing products.
- Partner APIs: stays accessible to the business partners to use with credential logins.
- Public APIs or also known as open APIs: has defined APIs endpoints, requests and response format. Available for 3rd parties to access via HTTP protocol.
APIs vs Hospitality
Now we understand what an API is, what does API have anything to do with hotels?
In the hospitality industry, hoteliers do not rely on a single software but rather a handful of them. According to HotelTechReport, an average number of software applications that hotels typically use is around 20. In order for those software to provide real-time updates, statistics or valuable insights, connectivity can be carried out via APIs. Or else you would presumably be contacting each software provider personally seeking their support in order to integrate them altogether! Trust me, you don’t want to walk this dreadful and expensive path.
Developers have been using 61.1% more APIs in the year 2020 compared to 2019. 71.1% of developers were also expecting this number to continue to rise in this year, 2021 (reported by RapidAPI survey). It proves the adoption of API is accelerating globally.
The conveniences of APIs are viable for future technology product development. Especially for cloud computing software such as cloud-native hospitality management solutions, it’s crucial to have the API development in place and upfront to feasibly integrate with the existing 3rd parties components. This brings an unexpected financial burden to the software development budget.
As mentioned above, there are 3 types of API protocols and it isn’t required for hospitality software APIs to follow a certain standard. Not all APIs are made the same. In short, it’s hard to be compatible with all the 3rd party components. On the other hand, hospitality software vendors are not always willing to “open” APIs at no charge.
The bottom line is achieving a powerful API integration, connectivity for your software allows you to exploit its full capabilities and capacities. It makes the world of full innovations closer to the hospitality industry. There are plenty of methodologies on the appliance of API in hospitality software, solutions, and apps. We would like to save this for a later post as our blog is getting long. If you haven’t looked into this matter, leverage your technology provider or your team, start igniting and exploring the API’s world to maximize the potential value to your business. It’s time to hop on board.