Nemo Travel is a new-age travel company. They empower their users to discover, explore and book inspiring and adventurous trips around the world, through their easy to use itinerary builder located on their website.
Nemo realised that accommodation is a key part of any trip and being able to find really hip hand-picked hotels and book them was a natural next step in the progression of their website, that would naturally complement their itinerary builder.
Nemo had been in discussions with a newly formed hotel booking startup but nothing was on the cards to work together.
THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION
With the unfortunate arrival of COVID-19, this meant that the travel industry pretty much ground to a halt. This forced Nemo’s hand and they needed to rapidly look at tech solutions that could improve their business and platform and implement this. Teaming up with the hotel booking startup was an obvious route and the integration with this hotel booking API service began.
The provided API service, allows us to perform searches, receive a list of hotels with availability and then the ability to book these hotels. As the API service is fairly new and still in a startup phase, they’ve decided to launch with hotels in Portugal only, with more regions being added as time progresses.
Elemental was tasked to incorporate the functionality that the API provided into the Nemo Travel website and also ensure that the two platforms communicated seamlessly.
On a more technical note, the API had a series of end points which represented the various API calls. We consumed the API through CURL to make POST requests to the various endpoint URLS and for every call, we made a response which was received in JSON format.
Nemo is famous for hand picking trips and accommodation for their users as they know this will meet their expectations and keeps with the Nemo theme of providing boutique options that they know their users will love. As the API had loads of hotels on their system this posed a significant problem as we didn’t want to feature all of these options but only the handpicked favourites. Another problem was that the API had lots of information about these hotels and their rooms but Nemo wanted to impart even more detailed information about these exquisite hotels on the website.
To overcome this we developed a custom hotel management module within their current administrative portal that allowed Nemo to add only the hotels that they wanted to feature, meaning if a hotel wasn’t added by Nemo then it would not appear in search results when users are looking for availability, in other words only hand picked hotels are available to book.
This hotel management module allowed Nemo to add more information about each hotel, for example, COVID-19 information, which points of interest are close to the hotel, additional images, descriptive features and a message from the hotel owner, to name a few.
You see, for Nemo, they are big on providing relevant, inspirational and insightful information to their users to allow them to make informed decisions quickly and easily.
Because Nemo is one of the very first companies to integrate with this new Hotel Booking System API, we needed to conduct extensive tests from searching for hotel availability, changing currency, to showing the individual rooms and finally to making the actual booking and receiving confirmation. There were a few teething issues which are natural but overall, the integration went smoothly.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE API INTEGRATIONS:
- The API documentation was really well put together and our development team were able to easily understand how to get the website to speak to the API. The documentation provided rules and limitations of what can and cannot be done in the API, with examples.
- Together with the API, we were provided with an API simulation tool. This is really nifty in that it allows us to simulate the full hotel searching and booking process. This tool allows us to see various results and the data format of these results to understand what we can expect from their API without the need to ask the technical API support team. That is for sure a huge time saver and something we don’t often see.
- We allow the user to search for hotel availability by region. We combine the region with a radius (For example 200km), to allow us to get all the hotels in a certain location. This is also done to ensure that the accuracy of the hotels returned are related to that location as you can experience scenarios where hotels are close to a city but in fact, are completely inappropriate for what the user is searching for (if looking for a city hotel).
- We’re able to make realtime bookings with the hotel for a specific room, through the API as soon as the client has concluded their payment on the website.
ONLINE PAYMENT PROCESSING VIA API
For the processing of the online payments, we made use of Stripe. Stripe is a world-renown payment gateway. We did some careful research into various payment gateways to determine which met our requirements not only for now but in the future as the website and payment requirements grow.
Why Stripe? Stripe is great to integrate with, as they provide in depth online resources to understand the integration process. They also support many currencies and have a decent customer portal.
WRAPPING UP PART 1
Working with this API has been challenging but at the same time a lot of fun! It’s great to see the website and hotel booking API, working in harmony with one another to provide Nemo’s users with a great experience when searching, viewing and booking elite hotels. Covid-19 meant that Nemo had to Pivot and the technology was definitely the catalyst to allow this new feature to go to market really quickly. Not long after the launch, we got our first of many bookings! It’s great to see all the hard work we put in pay off!
It’s clear that this is only the start. That the API will evolve and so will the website functionality to incorporate new features. This all plays nicely into the hands of the users who are ultimately the ones we are trying to please and provide value to, through technology and clever solutions, with a personal Nemo touch.
In fact, this new feature launch is the start of many more as Nemo aims to bring more services to the market and we are excited to see how far they go!