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Briddle
Briddle

As of this writing, the larger Online Travel Agencies (OTA's) like Booking.com and Airbnb do not offer a public API and rather work with selected partners (the larger hosted Channel Managers). Their workflow is somewhat like this:

  1. Our guest starts a booking for Room A on the website of OTA 1
  2. OTA 1 checks with the Channel Manager if Room A is still available
  3. After placing the booking OTA 1 notifies the Channel Manager
  4. The Channel Manager now notifies the other OTA's the hotel is working with as well as the hotels's own website
  5. Other guests who want to book Room A from the hotel's website or the website of another OTA will instantly not be able to book it anymore because bookings are actively written to the inventory of all different OTA's as well as the hotel's own website.

PLEASE NOTE Because API's are not standard this requires both the OTA and the Channel Manager to implement unique code on their website to make the API work. They will only do this for selected partners.

PROS

  • availability is automagically updated for your website and all OTA's
  • availability is updated instantly and double bookings will never occur (at least... in theory)

CONS

  • requires both parties (the OTA and the Channel Manager) to implement unique code on their website

Scripts like my Room Booking plugin sync with OTA's using iCal feeds and webhooks. Their workflow is somewhat like this:

  1. Our guest starts a booking for Room A on the website of OTA 1
  2. OTA 1 should check if Room A is still available by requesting the iCal feed from the Channel Manager (my plugin) but this does not happen with OTA's like Booking.com and Airbnb who just request the iCal feed from the Channel Manager (my plugin) every x hours
  3. After placing the booking OTA 1 should notify the Channel Manager (my plugin) by requesting a URL on the website of the Channel Manager (my plugin) that triggers the Channel Manager (my plugin) to request the updated iCal feed on the website of OTA 1 but this does not happen with OTA's like Booking.com and Airbnb who have not implemented these webhooks and force us to request the iCal feed from the OTA every periodically (e.g. every 15 minutes)
  4. The Channel Manager (my plugin) now notifies the other OTA's the hotel is working with, as the hotel's own website, by requesting a URL on the websites of the other OTA's that triggers the other OTA's to request the updated iCal feed on the website of the Channel Manager (my plugin) but OTA's like Booking.com and Airbnb do not support these webhooks and just request the iCal feed from the Channel Manager (my plugin) every x hours
  5. Other guests who want to book Room A from the hotel's website or another OTA will not be able to book it anymore AFTER they have updated the iCal feed from the Channel Manager (my plugin) on a cronjob. This leaves a window for double bookings.

EXAMPLES

PROS

  • availability is automagically updated for your website and all OTA's
  • almost all OTA's allow you to setup syncing with iCal feeds

CONS

  • updating is done periodically using a cronjob. This leaves a (small) window for double bookings!
  • you have to enter the URL of your iCal feed per room on the website of every OTA you use
  • you have to enter the URL of the OTA's iCal feed per room in the Channel Manager (my plugin) for every OTA you use

PLEASE NOTE While you may update our iCal feeds every 15 mins, some OTA's (Online Travel Agencies like AirBnB) take 4 hours to update from their end. Due to this sizeable window, I suggest that you turn off Instant Booking on OTA's in order to mitigate against the risk of double bookings.

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Briddle
Briddle

Different parts of the world have different preferences in Online Travel Agencies (OTA) like Booking.com, AirBnB,com, etc.

Although it would be perfectly possible to synchronize the availability of your rooms across many different OTA's using webhooks, these sites often do not implement any standardized method for 3rd-party vendors to interact with. If an API for Booking.com is available, it is completely different from the API for AirBnB, etc. This makes these integrations complex and expensive.

There are two reasons websites like Booking.com and AirBnB do this.

  1. They do not want you to offer your rooms anywhere else.
  2. They want to be paid for 3rd-party access.

This has led to the emergence of companies specializing in offering integrations with many different booking sites (Channel Managers). Using such a service makes sense under the current market conditions.

Examples:

  • Siteminder.com (+/- EUR 110/month for 10 rooms)
  • Roomraccoon.com (+/- EUR 110/month for 10 rooms)

My Room Booking Pro plugin is an attempt to create an independent infrastructure using the webhooks I mentioned earlier. Webhooks are (partly) supported by most booking sites as I have explained in more details in the plugin documentation and posts on the Support Forum.

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