By Carlos Corzo, CEO — If you pay attention to technology news in our industry, it is likely you’ve heard plenty of talk concerning Open APIs and how critical they are to pretty much every vacation rental management company out there. And, if you are like some of the property managers I’ve talked to, chances are your reaction was something along the lines of this:
Though crucial to the future of our industry, Open APIs are anything but a beginner’s level topic. Unfortunately, even the most seasoned of property managers may have a difficult time discerning what an Open API is and how it pertains to their business. Regardless of the fairly high level programming knowledge it takes to implement, Open APIs are not as hard as you may think to understand. In fact, with just a little bit of guidance – and a quality programmer at your disposal – your property management company can take advantage of this powerful tool and bring your business to new heights! All you need is just a little direction, and we’re here to give precisely that.
What is an Open API?
Before you run off and begin building business plans around this exciting technology, it is important to understand exactly what an Open API is.
At its core, an API is an Application Programming Interface that provides developers with access to the data housed in your vacation rental management software system. Even more importantly, however, Open APIs provide a secure communication stream to utilize any information you would like to share with third party vendors and often your internal programming staff.
In other words, it is a system that potentially allows you to share the information governed by your property management software – such as property information, amenities, inventory, calendars, reservations statistics, maintenance management info, etc. – with anyone that you desire in a safe and secure manner (programmatically, of course).
To break this down even further, let’s imagine that you have a black box filled with a handful of items. Normally, only you have access to this box. No one else can look inside unless they have the proper credentials to do so. However, because you want to show other people what your black box contains, you create a special language that allows outside parties to ask the box questions pertaining to the box’s contents. Now, people can ask questions about the contents of your box, so they may use that information to their advantage. For example, knowing that the black box contains shoes, they could ask questions such as:
- What shoe brands are in the black box?
- How many pairs of shoes are in the black box?
- What are the shoe colors available?
Even though they were not able to go inside the black box, they were able to access critical information about the contents of the box.
At its most basic, this is what an API does – only the black box is your business’s data, and the outside parties are other technology providers, such as your website provider, BookingPal, LeisureLink, Homeaway.com, FlipKey.com, Booking.com, and any other tools that you might want to use in the future.
How can an Open API help your business?
The flexibility afforded by an Open API is crucial to a growing business, allowing you to reach new horizons with your technology capabilities, business and marketing efforts.
Here are just a few of the major benefits your company will experience when using an Open API platform:
- Share your inventory data easily and quickly. In today’s industry, sharing your inventory with companies, like Homeaway, AirBnB, Flipkey, Booking.com, Expedia and many others, is critical to your success.
- Expand your boundaries. No one knows your business better than you do. That’s why being restricted to your data due to a lack of an Open API can be frustrating. Having your data locked in a box is a thing of the past. After all, it is your data. Shouldn’t you have access for possibilities that could revolutionize your property management company? Whether it is reservations, maintenance, housekeeping, CRMs, revenue management tools or whatever category in which you need data to meet your objectives, Open APIs give you the access you need – and allow you to come up with the next groundbreaking idea that revolutionizes your business. At Streamline, even though we believe we have the best reservations technology in the industry, even we don’t know everything you might need to improve your business. However, we also believe by offering our software users an Open API, the road is paved for new innovation and free and creative thinking to transform your business and the industry as a whole.
- Easily work with the developers of your choice. Do you have a favorite web development company? With search engine optimization becoming more challenging every day, you want to find an expert. An Open API gives you the flexibility to make a choice.
- Open data for all. Historic data gives you the ability to analyze performance, identify methods of increasing revenue, and see trends in your business. But just being able to see that data yourself can be a hindrance that you need to avoid. Fortunately, Open APIs allow you to give access to your data to any third party company you wish (like VRM Intel’s Benchmark Reporting), making it easier than ever before to integrate with analytics – for goal and conversion tracking – or simply improve your marketing efforts. At the end of the day, the key to improving your marketing strategies is data, and having open access to it puts you one step closer to striking gold.
Is there a downside?
Though having an Open API is important, there is one major downside that you need to keep in mind…cost.
Yes, Open APIs are massively powerful platforms that can put your business on the fast track to success, but in many cases, access to an Open API can cost a pretty penny. There are vacation rental software providers that offer an extensive and advanced set of API functions at no cost. However, there are also software providers that have APIs, but they pick and choose which developers with whom they will work.
With that said, if you have your heart set on an Open API but you are restricted by API access cost, limitations or software companies that just don’t offer this fundamental feature, it might be time to start contemplating a more advanced software solution. Not having access to all of your data, all the time, is simply something you should not stand for in today’s technology environment. Pay the extra cost, if necessary, or move on to greener pastures.
The future is now.
At the end of the day, our industry is facing many changes, especially in technology. In fact, it is tough to speculate what will happen even six months from now. As a result, it is more important than ever to seize on any technology that will allow for ingenuity, creativity and fewer restrictions, and an Open API is precisely that. Allow your company to reach new heights by considering vacation rental software that offers an Open API.
Good luck, and see you at the VRMA!
By Carlos Corzo, CEO, Streamline Vacation Rental Software