PlacePass sees increase in bookings after implementing v2 of the Viator Partner API
PlacePass is a leading meta-search engine for travel experiences, bringing together a large selection of tours and activities in over 800 destinations across the globe. PlacePass was on an older version of Viator’s Partner API, but used the downtime as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to improve their integration by implementing v2.
Their ingestion speeds improved drastically, allowing them to make less, but more frequent, requests to ensure the accuracy of product and availability information. Accurate information paired with improved/simplified merchandising capabilities translated nicely into their bottom line.
increase in bookings month over month
“A month after completing the V2 integration, we’ve already seen a 78% month-over-month increase in bookings with noticeable up-ticks in all key metrics including conversion rate, average revenue-per-booking, and reduced cancellation rates.” says Ethan Hawkes, co-found and CEO of PlacePass. “Thanks to Viator’s significant investments during the Covid crisis, we feel well-positioned for an accelerated recovery ahead.”
Slow ingestion led to customer service issues
The original method for product ingestion model was slow and rapid supplier changes (made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic), resulted in an inability to efficiently update the product catalogue to reflect the most accurate information across Viator’s 300,000+ products. Customer service issues arose due to stale product information and inaccurate availability schedules.
The on-site experience and complicated API responses
The previous API made it difficult to provide the right on-site experience for PlacePass customers. Ticketing options, times, and ticket type information were returned in large complicated matrices that made it difficult to display this information. “V2 has simplified that so we don’t have to do much flattening and trying to guess all the different ticket combinations and to display it the way we want it to,” Senior Product Manager Caroline Goodwin said.
API documentation read-through & planning
The first step was to read through the documentation and plot out how they needed to support new endpoints. For PlacePass, supporting the new ingestion model through the /modified-since endpoints was a big component of the work they had to do. Whereas previously they had to re-ingest the entire product catalogue to pull updates, through the new /modified-since endpoints they would only ingest product information that has been changed since the last refresh.
“I’ve read a lot of API docs that basically just say here ‘here’s an endpoint’ and then have very little context around it. Viator’s docs are not like that. You guys do a really good job of trying to explain ‘this is what this is’ and how it relates to the other pieces of the API,” Caroline said.
“I will continue to praise the /modified-since endpoints through the roof. It’s made a huge difference for us technically.”
Only ingesting new product and availability data through the new /products/modified-since and /availability/schedules/modified-since endpoints, respectively, would help resolve many of the customer service issues that were a result of inaccurate information, but it would also help to speed up ingestion. “It used to take us at least about 24 hours to do a full catalogue refresh. We’re definitely not taking that long anymore.”
“It used to take us at least about 24 hours to do a full catalogue refresh. We’re definitely not taking that long anymore.”
Structured data gave flexibility
The simplicity of how tour grades, as an example, are handled in V2 has reduced extra work needed to display this information to their liking. “The structured data has helped in terms of how you’ve restructured the tour and ticketing options, the times, and the ticket types. That’s been really helpful.” Caroline continued to say “V2 has simplified that so we don’t have too much flattening and trying to guess all the different ticket combinations and to display it the way we want it to.” Other structured data, like COVID-19 safety features, that is separated from the rest of the data is useful when building product description pages.
What’s next for PlacePass
Caroline anticipates that the simplification of endpoints and the way data is structured in V2 allows PlacePass to continue to scale their business using the Viator Partner API. “With COVID information, for example, we can easily create a new section for it or split some of those pieces out in a way that would not slow us down.”
And while PlacePass has yet to merchandise Viator’s Excellent Products on their site, they are excited to see this option available in the API and look forward to additional features that Viator will be releasing in the future for V2.
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