Future-proofed Livn API offers greater efficiencies, cost savings

LATTE chats with Livn Founder/CCO Steve Martinez

A revolutionised API (automated programming interface) by Australian tech company, Livn, is promising greater efficiencies, streamlined processes and significant operational cost savings for uses in the travel sphere.

Three years in the think tank and now close to 12 months in beta testing, Livn is ready to show off its revamped Reseller API that Steve Martinez, Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, says is future-proofed for the next 10 years.

Speaking with LATTE, Martinez said a new approach and platform was needed to book tours, activities and attractions due to their increasing complexities and variables that alter pricing, such as pick-up time, frequency, day of the week, optional add-ons, catering requirements and so on.

While Livn’s previous API version – created in 2011, ahead of many major OTAs – received regular enhancements, Martinez said a full revamp was necessary that caters to the evolution of technology and to support some of the ways products are structured and merchandised by the operator.

“We had to get to make a big change to support increasing complexities,” he said.

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Martinez explained that the new Reseller API works in two parts. The first is static tour content – the information found in a printed brochure, such as descriptions and images. It’s updated once and never really changes. That part hasn’t altered.

“Part two, the booking flow, is the “big leap for us.”

Martinez continued: “With there being so many different variations and questions that need to be answered by a user to be able to book a product, we’ve created a completely dynamic booking flow.”

“What was happening up until that time, was everyone was trying to get every possible permutation of a product that may happen within a booking flow and put it upstream towards that static data, and try and present all those options to the user in a static format.

“Now when you start the booking flow you enter a completely dynamic and efficient process.”

Steve Martinez, Founder and CCO, Livn

“What we saw is that because every variation has a different capability of changing the price of the product such as pickup time, location, dates, or may vary by weight, whether you could be adding nitrous to your scuba gear, etc, all those things change the price,” he said.

Livn wanted the experience to be akin to purchasing an item from a shop assistant in a store. Martinez likened the booking flow to selecting a pair of jeans and discussing the style, brand, colour, waist size, leg length, etc to pinpoint the product and determine the price of the item.

“What’s happening in our API – and this is the big innovation that we’ve done – is from the point that you know what you want and you’ve asked for it, Livn then puts the user in direct communication with the reservation system that the supplier is using, moving to a live conversation with their reservation system that automatically asks the next question. And throughout the entire process, the reservation system won’t offer anything that isn’t available.

“You’re personalising and building the product on the fly as you’re communicating with the reservation system, that’s where the big innovation happens.”

“Our goal is for distribution partners to standardise the booking flow into a single uniform flow. So it doesn’t matter if they’re booking a Vatican tour, a Segway tour, skydive or a balloon or 15 day tour, the booking flow has to be easy, simple, predictable, and almost exactly the same for every product, aside from all the variations that can change between operator, reservation system and tour type.

“We can now support almost every single product that a tour operator creates because we’re getting all the real-time data back and forth with questions and answers.

Expanded capabilities = new products; Rail, Private Touring, Events

Martinez says the technology has enabled Livn to unlock the breadth and depth of product that is now bookable via an API.

“It’s also opened up Livn’s profile because we’re now able to cater for different types of experiences such as events, which are a little bit more complex to book as they are only available at certain times, seating allocations and variables that affect the price.

“We’re also starting to dabble in train journeys now which we’ve never done before and a good example of that is the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada. One of our clients asked us to integrate their product and because of this new booking flow, we’re able to deliver that via an API.”

“Livn has been piloting event ticketing for about six months to get a ‘feel’ for the vertical. That has certainly opened us up to more product that we can make available to our distribution partners.”

A sub-vertical within the offering that caters for the luxury segment is private tours. Generally booked by luxury travellers who are willing to pay more to have their own tour guide and dedicated vehicle, private tours have been very difficult to sell in the past via API because the price is not linear or predictable, and changes depending on the number of people.

Total global market forecast by Phocuswright

Partnerships and cost savings

Martinez said another of Livn’s clients is Flight Centre, with its technology powering all the retail travel brands’ day tours and activities globally, across corporate and leisure.

The way Livn’s solution is structured is not as a wholesaler, but by connecting Flight Centre sales platforms with their preferred suppliers to provide live inventory.

“We connect all the ‘plumbing’ up so partners can make bookings without ever having to get updated pricing or contact the operator. It cuts out hundreds of people from procurement and maintenance teams because it’s all live data and no one needs to maintain content or pricing or seasonality as it is all done by API in real-time.

“All of a sudden, the vertical of day tours and activities, which has always been viewed like the dirty little child and hasn’t made very much money, becomes something that can be very profitable at volume, that you can run and get good margins on and the cost of sale is lowered.”

Beta testing response

Martinez says partners are loving the single unified booking flow.

“The presentation of product data is unified and standardised, and the booking flow is always exactly the same, with the only variation the questions being asked.”

“Normally a travel advisor would have three or four different processes to book three or four different suppliers. But this is one unified solution that makes it really easy training, really easy to use and more efficient.

“From an operational perspective, the amount of cost that we’ve been able to cut out for businesses in the maintenance of these products is significant.

“We can activate products really quickly for suppliers that may traditionally take weeks to be done, plus new product becomes available in the API instantly.”

Livn’s existing distribution partners will need to migrate to the new platform, a process that has been underway for at least eight months. The current system will be ‘switched off’ when the last client migrates in March 2023.

For more information see livn.world/products.

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