Top 10 Travel APIs: Uber, TripAdvisor and Expedia

The widespread adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices has led to an increasing demand for travel-related mobile apps. According to a recent ProgrammableWeb article, business travel is a $1.12 trillion global opportunity for apps and services.

Last year, ProgrammableWeb published an in-depth analysis written by Mark Boyd of how smart cities are using public transport APIs. Smart cities can use public transport APIs and travel APIs to build travel guides, transport planners, and other apps that help tourists and residents find their way around town. They can also use travel APIs to help tourists discover the best restaurants, museums, landmarks and other places to visit.

The APIs that made it to our top 10 travel APIs list offer a wide range of capabilities. Within this list you can find APIs for transportation requests, travel expense tracking, booking (air, hotel, car, etc.), price comparison (hotels, car rental, flights, etc.), live flight tracking, travel accommodation reviews and much more. The APIs also scored well against a diverse set of criteria:

  • Popularity
  • Potential
  • Documentation
  • Ease of use
  • Functionality

API popularity is determined using a variety of metrics, including PW followers, GitHub activity, Twitter activity and search engine popularity based on Google Trends.

There were several APIs that, while popular, did not quite have the metrics to make it into the top 10 travel APIs list. These APIs are well worth mentioning and include CleartripTrack this API, Google QPX Express APITrack this API, TravelportTrack this API, Waze and WegoTrack this API.


Link: /api/uberTrack this API
Provider: Uber
API Documentation URL:

Uber, a widely known app-based transportation service, opened its API to all developers in August 2014, along with an affiliate program to encourage developers to incorporate Uber into their applications. Initially the public API did not include the Request Endpoint, which provides "request a ride" functionality. This endpoint was publicly released just last month, making it possible for developers to incorporate Uber Platform functionality into third-party applications. To further encourage developers to build innovative applications with the Uber API and specifically the Uber Request endpoint, the company is hosting its first hackathon on ChallengePost, which ends May 15. Uber is giving developers a chance to win cash prizes for the best applications using the Uber Request endpoint.

The company provides a very nicely designed developer website, which includes detailed API documentation that is well-organized and easy to follow. There is a Python sample application on GitHub that developers can use as a starting point. Uber also provides a Sandbox environment that developers can use to test the API endpoints used in their applications.

Despite the controversies that have surrounded Uber, the company's efforts to encourage developer adoption of the Uber API seem to be very successful so far. The Uber API was launched less than nine months ago yet has skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot in the ProgrammableWeb top 10 travel APIs list in that time.

The Uber API has already been integrated with quite a few major platforms, including Google Maps, Transit App and TripAdvisor. It will be interesting to see how well the company and the API are doing this time next year, and in the years to follow.

Google search interest over time. Data source: Google Trends


Link: /api/concurTrack this API
Provider: Concur/SAP
API Documentation URL:

Concur, now a part of SAP, is a cloud-based travel management platform that allows businesses to track travel expenses; manage business trips; automate accounts payable processes; and handle travel booking such as flights, hotels and rental cars.

The Concur Developer Portal provides extensive information about Concur APIs and includes sandbox environments, a forum, blog and other developer tools. Using Concur APIs, developers can build trip planning, transportation service, expense management and other travel-related applications.

At ProgrammableWeb's APIcon held in May of last year, Concur director of developer evangelism Mithun Dhar presented a workshop for developers, encouraging them to build applications using Concur APIs. He said that developers should take advantage of the "$1.2 trillion annual opportunity" of the business travel market. Concur aims to work closely with developers and partners, which will help the company build a vibrant application ecosystem.

Google search interest over time. Data source Google Trends


Link: /api/sabre-0Track this API
Provider: Sabre
API Documentation URL:

Sabre is a leading global travel and tourism industry technology solutions provider. Airlines, hotels, travel agencies, car rental companies and many other sectors of the travel industry use Sabre technology.

Sabre provides a nicely designed and well-organized website for developers (Sabre Dev Studio), which contains extensive information about Sabre APIs. Most of the APIs Sabre provides are SOAP; however, the company also provides a number of REST APIs. Sabre APIs can be used to incorporate Sabre travel platform features such as travel search (air, car, hotel, rail and cruise), travel reservations (air, car, hotel and rail), top destinations, and more into applications and existing systems.

In December, the company announced that the Sabre Red App Centre, a business-to-business app marketplace for travel agents, had exceeded 1.2 million downloads worldwide. The company encourages developers to apply to become a Red App Certified Provider and use Sabre APIs to build innovative travel industry apps.

Google search interest over time. Data source: Google Trends


Link: /api/tripadvisorTrack this API
Provider: TripAdvisor
API Documentation URL:

TripAdvisor describes itself as the "world's largest travel site," providing more than 200 million reviews and opinions about millions of accommodations, restaurants and attractions around the world.

The company provides a nicely designed and organized website for developers that contains in-depth information about TripAdvisor APIs. The TripAdvisor Content API is for developers who would like to build consumer-facing travel applications and provides programmatic access to business details for accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The API also provides destination information, including points of information and latitude and longitude for each point of interest. Other TripAdvisor APIs are available for B2B connectivity partners (TripConnect) and self-implemented partners (online travel agents, hotel chains, etc.).

The company is continuously working to improve the TripAdvisor platform and recently added a "Neighborhoods" feature, which helps travelers explore popular cities. It also added "Just for You" personalized hotel recommendations.

When it comes to travel reviews and recommendations, TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site. At the time of this writing, the TripAdvisor travel community consisted of more than 300 million average monthly unique users.

Google search interest over time. Data source: Google Trends


Link: /api/expediaTrack this API
Provider: Expedia
API Documentation URL:

Expedia is a leading online travel company that specializes in vacation packages and provides information about travel destinations, flights, hotels, cruises and more.

The company provides a set of APIs that developers can use to add hotel, flight and rental car booking capabilities to their applications. The company provides a portal for developers that contains extensive information about Expedia Affiliate Network APIs.

Expedia's strategy for gaining travel industry market share seems to be primarily through the acquisition of other travel-related companies. In the last few years, Expedia has acquired several major travel industry brands, including Travelocity (bought from Sabre), Trivago and Wotif.

A few months ago, Expedia finalized an agreement to acquire Orbitz. However, the Department of Justice sent a second request last month to the company to review additional documents related to the acquisition. It is unclear if Expedia's acquisition strategy will help the company continue to compete in the volatile travel industry market.

Google search interest over time. Data source: Google Trends


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