A moving experience: How Kiwi.com built a travel platform with APIs

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Editors note: Jurah Hrinik is product manager of Kiwi.com’s Tequila B2B platform. Read on to learn how this Czech Republic-based travel information provider automated on-boarding for partners and developers who build on its APIs.

Our vision with Kiwi.com is to offer customers a way to buy travel insurance coverage, book a taxi from home to the train station, take a train to the airport, pick up a rental car, and drive to their destination all in one seamless customer experience. To do it, we’ve built a B2B platform, Tequila, which aims to be a one-stop travel booking shop for our partners, such as online travel agencies, airlines, brick-and-mortar agencies, and affiliated programs. Tequila enables access, via APIs, to all of our content and services–from schedule information aggregated from hundreds of airlines, to ticketing fulfillment. The Apigee platform sits as a layer between our internal systems and partners to manage the entire relationship, from signing up, to invoicing, to reporting, to accessing our APIs, and everything else our partners need from us.

Using Apigee to power a B2B travel platform
Before we implemented API management, everything from partner onboarding to monitoring and reporting had to be done through manual processes. Whenever a partner had a specific request or change order, they had to contact their account managers, who brought it to our internal technical business development department. This team would contact the developers, who in turn had to add it to their backlog, then execute merge requests. It was complicated and time-consuming to get anything done.

We envisioned Tequila as a platform for distributing solutions we build in house, as well as those built by partners. For example, a taxi company with its own APIs can connect via Tequila and offer its services to a broad ecosystem. Tequila integrates with Apigee, enabling customers or partners to try APIs from the portal without doing the coding. We don’t maintain a database of customers and users. We use Apigee for this. We create the companies, register developers, and use the Apigee platform to build applications on Tequila. Even though we went live only six months ago, we already have a lot of APIs built in Apigee, as well as some back-end services.

We’re currently using seven main APIs, each with four to five endpoints, for our partners. These are exposed on the Apigee platform by implementing API proxies, which decouple the app-facing API from backend services. This allows us to make backend changes to services while enabling apps to make calls to the same API without interruption. We also have 13 management proxies, making a total of 20 proxies for the whole platform. Each proxy has a couple of endpoints, and we’re adding a new one every couple of weeks as we roll out new features. We’ve also been able to streamline a lot of processes for finance and customer support.

Delivering against a tight development deadline
We had a tight deadline for Tequila’s original launch, with just 10 weeks to build it in time for our CEO’s presentation at an important conference. This meant that we couldn’t satisfy every requirement by launch time; we needed to keep rebuilding pieces and improving functionality after that deadline. Regardless of the time pressure, Apigee enabled us to do everything we needed from an API perspective–especially from the security and discoverability standpoints–and without disrupting the user experience. It gave us some breathing room while we focused on building Tequila.

Kiwi.com relies extensively on Google solutions and we use almost every Google Cloud product. Aside from all of our business users on G Suite and Drive, our development staff also uses GCP for logging, storage, data warehousing (via Big Query), and reporting. We’re now in the midst of assessing how we can use the GCP machine learning capabilities to further enhance our products. While we evaluated other API management platforms, in the end, we were only deciding between two solutions–Apigee or build it ourselves. No other solution on the market was robust enough to handle everything we wanted to do.

Monetizing one-stop booking data
The future growth of Kiwi.com is oriented around integrating the full spectrum of travel options into our platform, in addition to the air travel we offer now. This means that customers will be able to book true door-to-door solutions, including public transport, auto rental, taxis, ferries, and insurance. The Apigee platform enables our partners to bring us these services in a more secure environment, with control over what we expose and how they can work with it. We’re also evaluating ways to derive revenue from our APIs with Apigee’s monetization capabilities.

Tequila generates revenue via commissions using either an affiliate or booking-based model. In the future, we might offer our content to different types of partners or different markets, possibly via subscription–for instance, we get requests from newspapers that want to visualize airport traffic around the world, and from airports that want access to our reporting platform. These kinds of services are candidates for monetization.

We envision more opportunities like this arising as we open up to new markets. Each day we get closer to our vision to connect travelers to all the information they need from the time they leave their home to the time they arrive at their destination. API management with Apigee is helping make that vision a reality.

To learn more about Apigee, visit our website.

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