What is SiteMinder?
With more than 35,000 hotels and accommodations on their platform, SiteMinder is the leading channel manager in the hospitality industry globally. Unlike many local market leaders in the channel manager space that focus on specific countries, regions or accommodation segments, SiteMinder has a global footprint in 150 countries. They process more than 100 million bookings annually. So if you're talking to potential hotel partners, there's no doubt you'll come across many that use SiteMinder.
How can I integrate with SiteMinder?
- You can apply to become a SiteMinder partner on their website.
- Other startups and mid-sized travel businesses we work with have told us there's often a multi-month waitlist before your developers can start building the integration.
- You might find yourself in a chicken-or-egg situation. Suppose you don't have an ample amount of hotel partners signed up and customers booking on your site. In that case, you might end up being a lower priority integration partner for SiteMinder's team. On the other hand, many potential hotel partners will only work with you once you can source live availability and dynamic rates reliably.
- Once you're able to build your integration, SiteMinder uses the ubiquitous but somewhat hard to work with OpenTravel Alliance OTA Standard(established in the early 2000s), which requires you to cache availability and rates on your end and keep them updated by receiving XML-based messages from SiteMinder.
- Before onboarding your first hotel partner on SiteMinder, you'll have to go through an integration certification process with SiteMinder's team to demonstrate that your site or app caches, displays and books rates correctly.
- Although we don't have specific information on SiteMinder's pricing, most channel manager companies charge you a fee in the hundreds- or thousands-of-euros range for certifying your integration.
What do hotels have to do in SiteMinder?
- Once your integration with SiteMinder is live, you can start connecting to your hotel partners using SiteMinder.
- Hotels call this process "channel manager mapping". Your contact at the hotel will log into their SiteMinder account and pick which of their room types and rates will be made available to you.
- Startup OTAs often tell us they struggle to arrange these last steps with hotels. Since there are around 30 minutes of work for your contact at each hotel, this might not end up on top of their task list if you're not expected to put through significant amounts of bookings from day one. They find that the process typically requires a few round-trips of hand-holding and follow-up.
- Once this step is done, you'll validate on your end that everything has been configured without mistakes and all room types and rates show up correctly. Due to the manual nature of this process, errors happen regularly, which means you won't have access to the most competitive set of room types and rates.
How is Impala different?
- Impala doesn't rely on a SiteMinder integration and works for nearly all hotels, no matter which channel manager they use.
- There's no wait time: you can sign up online right now without any application or approval process, avoiding any waiting time. You're able to get started immediately, no matter if you're starting with your first or have thousands of hotel partners already.
- Connecting to Impala gives you instant access to the public rates of thousands of existing Impala partner hotels. In addition, you can use Impala Contracting to agree on bespoke rates and commissions that only apply to you.
- Your developers can start building your integration immediately, and we've had OTAs integrate in as little as two days. We offer interactive guides and solid documentation for our modern RESTful API that developers love.
- Impala is free to get started with no certification or startup costs. Our pricing is based on the bookings you put through and decreases the more your business with us grows.
- While channel managers typically require you to build out a caching layer and logic to determine which rates to show, Impala takes care of this for you by default, often saving weeks of development time. For those OTAs that prefer to handle caching and rate display logic on their end, we offer this as an integration style, too.
Is Impala easier for hotels?
- Impala takes over most of the work hotels have traditionally had to take care of, which means we onboard hotels within 48 hours of them agreeing to work with you through Impala.
- We provide white-glove treatment for onboarding hotels, which means we take over most of the tasks hotels traditionally had to take care of. This avoids delays for you, and hotels love that they don't have to spend time unnecessarily.
- Our team hand-curates each hotel's content on their behalf, using their own website and other public sources. This means beautiful high-res photography and high-quality copy for the hotel and room type, ready to be used on your site. Hotels get the final say and can approve or request changes.
- Since we don't rely on SiteMinder or other channel manager integrations, hotels don't have to perform the channel mapping task. This saves them 30 minutes of their time, and you a lot of back-and-forth following up to get this step completed.
- Impala's team takes care of everything, and with a robust automated and manual quality assurance process, human errors are a lot less likely to happen.
Channel Manager Integration Glossary
The majority of hotels use a channel manager. Channel managers are software that connects to the system the hotel uses to run day-to-day operations (a property management system, or PMS) to get availability, rates and inventory (ARI) – and offers these to sales channels and online travel agents like yourself close to real-time. While SiteMinder, Sabre SynXis and eRevMax RateTiger are the overall market leaders worldwide, you'll come across many smaller companies leading in their home country or target accommodation segment (vacation rentals, hotels) over these big players. This means that in talking to potential hotel partners for your business anywhere in the world, hotels will request you to integrate with their channel manager.
Hotels might ask you if you're integrating with a channel manager's two-way XML interface. Most channel managers have APIs that require you to send and receive XML-based integration messages based on the ubiquitous but somewhat archaic OpenTravel Alliance OTA Standard (established in the early 2000s). Some also provide more modern JSON or REST-based APIs. If you use Impala, you'll have the same functionality for getting rates and making instantly confirmed bookings available as with a two-way XML interface. Still, our API is blissfully easy and quick for your developers to integrate with. Impala's API is a modern RESTful API using JSON with best-in-class reliability and performance.
Availability, Rates, and Inventory (ARI) is a pricing feed that you can consume as an OTA. In the past, hotels often had to give travel sellers static rates (e.g. $150 for every night of the year) written into paper contracts. That means they couldn't change prices easily to react to demand changes throughout the year. They had to fax or email the travel seller to close our dates or have them stop selling rooms. Nowadays, most hotels won't want to work with you in this way. If hotels ask you how you're sourcing ARI, they want to know that you're selling their dynamic rates (that they can adapt daily to account for changes in the market). This means you'll need to be aware as they set and change them and when to stop selling their rooms and rates. You can get ARI through integration with the various channel managers your hotel partners use—or use Impala to work with hotels on any channel manager through one integration. Impala provides live availability down to the last rooms and dynamic rates the hotel can adjust in their system, so you make it easy for hotels to work with you.
A "one-way XML interface" is where you as an OTA receive ARI messages for every update to rates or changes in availability. So if the hotel decides to stop selling a particular rate type or a room gets booked, you'll receive an XML-formatted integration message soon after telling you about this update. When you make a booking, you'll call, email or fax the hotel so they can enter the booking into their system. A "two-way XML interface" does the same thing, but bookings you make will travel through the hotel's channel manager into their property management system. This means the hotel will see it reflected in their PMS close to real-time. Impala offers you multiple ways to consume ARI and a uniform way to make, change or cancel bookings with instant confirmation through Impala. In addition to what channel managers typically offer, Impala also avoids the need for your team to build rate caching and display logic, and each hotel and room type comes with hand-curated content and photography, ready to display to your customers.
In the hospitality industry, push integrations with a channel manager mean that the onus on determining which rate to sell is on you, the online travel agency. Each channel manager you connect to will keep you updated about any changes to ARI (Availability, Rates and Inventory) through XML messages. Still, it's on you to honour those and develop a system to cache, display and sell the correct rate at any point in time.
This reduces your dependence on SiteMinder or any other channel manager's infrastructure and API performance and uptime. If their service is slow or irresponsive, you can continue to sell rooms based on the slightly out-of-date you have stored on your end.
Impala allows you to use this integration style if you choose to but recognises building out a system to cache ARI and determining the correct rates to sell is a complex task for your developers that might take months to complete well. With Impala, the default style of integration therefore is a pull-style integration. This means Impala takes care of caching and storing this data and returning the correct rates to display for every search query your customer make, with excellent performance and high availability. One less worry for your development team!
This is the default integration style Impala offers, but unfortunately, few channel managers provide it. It means that whenever a customer is looking for rooms on your site, you'll query the available rates to display in real-time. This makes things a lot easier for you but means your site's loading speed is directly tied to the API source. Some channel managers have frequent outages and suboptimal loading speeds, typically discouraging this integration style. Our infrastructure team optimises for swift response times and best-in-class availability here at Impala.
The last integration you'll ever need
- Start selling your first booking within days: integrating Impala's API and white-labelled booking pages is bliss for developers.
- Spare yourself the month-long wait to be able to integrate and get certified with SiteMinder and other channel managers.
Make working with you a no-brainer for hotels
- Lightning-fast: hotels that want to work with you are onboarded and ready to be sold within 48 hours, no matter their channel manager.
- From Standard Double to Junior Suite: with Impala, you can (up)sell any room category beyond just lead-in standard rooms available elsewhere.
- Offer your customers rooms when others run out – with dynamic rates and live availability, you can sell up to the point when all rooms are sold.
Integrating with the Impala Booking platform was effortless. From starting integration to processing our first bookings, it took me just two days. Their interactive documentation is excellent, and we got great support from their team.
It’s got to be seamless. It’s easy to see Impala and Carefree as a great proposition from an HQ perspective but we needed to make sure it wouldn’t create any logistical nightmares for General Managers on the ground.