The online booking business is as good its inventory, so finding the best rooms for the best price is the most important task. One of the ways to get a diverse inventory portfolio is to partner with a bed bank.
What is a bed bank?
A bed bank (also called a wholesaler) is a B2B company that purchases rooms from accommodation providers in a bulk at a discounted, static price for specific dates and sells them to OTAs, travel agents, airlines, or tour operators.
Wholesalers may partner with accommodation providers directly or access their inventory via suppliers or connectivity solutions. Some organizations use both approaches. Wholesalers connect with suppliers’ Property Management Systems to send updates on who will occupy these rooms and when: Guest John Smith will occupy X room from date A till date B.
Many bed banks go beyond selling lodging and offer activities, tickets, transfers, or car rentals.
So, bed banks are middlemen between hoteliers that aim to have decent occupancy rates and travel providers looking for inventory for their end customers that will get them a commission.
Which bed banks should you contact to better position yourself on chosen markets? We will explore several bed banks to help you choose a business partner.
Hotelbeds: various accommodation types worldwide and activities
Hotelbeds provides an extensive listing of accommodations across the globe as well as travel ancillaries, the largest among B2B sellers, according to its LinkedIn description. The company is headquartered in Palma — the capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca, one of the Balearic islands that are famous for their resorts and a dance music style, Balearic house, beat, or just plain Balearic. Hotelbeds has acquired Tourico Holidays and GTA wholesalers.
The wholesaler’s portfolio includes from over 170,000 to over 180,000 hotels (depending on the official source consulted) in 185 destination countries. The average number of properties across the Americas is 50,000, nearly 80,000 properties are located in Europe and the Middle East, and around 40,000 accommodations are in Asia Pacific countries.
The properties cover all accommodation types, so Hotelbeds partners can deliver to various market segments:
Hotel profiles are marked with tags, such as best for beach, luxury, nightlife, business, families, value, and solo travelers, to help users select the options.
The company partners with big hotel brands like IHG, Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt, NH hotels, Iberostar, Melia, Accor, and Barcelo.
Lodging is one of the travel package components end customers may be interested in, so tours and attractions are here to let them immerse in local culture and learn about the destination. And an airport transfer is a stress-free way to arrive at the property. The wholesaler provides these travel ancillaries:
- 18,000+ activities and tickets in more than 680 destinations in 130 countries (i.e., Legoland Windsor Resort, Port Aventura, Big Bus Tours, Gray Line Tours, City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off bus tours);
- 24,000+ transfers (private and shared); and
- 500+ car rental suppliers across 700+ destinations in over 185 countries (i.e., Goldcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Sixt).
Hotelbeds has directly contracted hotels, uses the services of third-party suppliers, which are the local agents representing numerous hotels from a given zone or region, and partners with connectivity solution providers, for instance, SiteMinder.
Hotelbeds provides APITUDE — a suite of open RESTful APIs that support JSON and XML exchange. With these APIs, external developers can integrate their mobile apps and websites with the wholesaler’s products accessing up-to-date availability and rate data. The company claims that the API returns a request in less than 1 second.
The suite includes Booking API, Cache API, and Content API.
Hotel Booking API. This API lets users generate lists of hotels with rooms available, confirm bookings, get a list of reservations and booking information, modify (i.e., check-in date or booking holder name), or cancel them (fully or partially). For example, one can request availability using hotel codes (up to 2000 per request), GPS coordinates, by keywords, destination or destination/zone.
Hotel Content API. It provides static and dynamic information about hotels available in BookingAPI. Static information includes a hotel location, board types, descriptions for accommodation and room types, pictures, services, issues or terminals associated with the hotel, contract comments, etc. Dynamic content is related to booking and includes availability dates, cancelation policies, and fees.
Cache API. The API enables extensive access to Hotelbeds’ prices and availabilities, providing a snapshot of a specific moment in time. You can request and use this information to create travel packages or upload prices in a third-party database. Also, the API will be useful if you deal with heavy traffic or if you are integrated with price comparison sites. Cache data updates up to once an hour.
Hotelbeds provides two services to obtain cached data:
- CacheAPI Scan to get information of availabilities for multiple destinations, occupations, booking durations, hotels, rooms and meal plans, for a long period via software with just one request.
- CacheAPI — Files Service to access product, prices, and inventory data from a client. Users create HTTP GET requests to defined REST resources and get information returned in CSV files. While you can send requests at any time, new files will be delivered once generated by the system.
Travel agents can book inventory via a booking website.
Bonotel: luxury properties, activities, and services in the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean
If you focus on high-end travelers, consider Bonotel Exclusive Travel. This is a US inbound tour operator and a wholesale distributor of rooms in upscale properties. Its clients are other inbound tour operators, bed banks, and OTAs.
Since Bonotel is very selective when it comes to accommodation suppliers, its inventory portfolio is quite small compared to other wholesalers. However, the company has a large share in its single, luxury segment, serving more than 2,425 (or 60 percent) of nearly 4,060 hotels in the US. Other locations include Mexico and the Caribbean. Also, Bonotel provides hotels in US national parks, for example, Yellowstone, Zion, or Grand Canyon.
Accommodation types include:
- luxury hotels
Working with Bonotel, you can distribute rooms in such hotel brands, as MGM Resorts International, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Hilton, The Ritz-Carlton, Kimpton Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Gansevoort, Loews Hotels, Highgate, and others. The company publishes yearly brochures with descriptions and photos of partner hotels, T&A providers, so check it out if you’re interested.
Bonotel has a division, Beyond by Bonotel, that focuses on leisure experiences and manages corporate events — trade shows, team buildings, conferences, exhibitions, and incentives.
Other options include:
- luxury concierge service,
- airport transfers, city transfers (can be a limo, of course),
- golf tee times,
- tickets to sporting events (i.e., Super Bowl and Masters), concerts and shows (i.e., Cirque du Soleil, David Copperfield, or Magic Mike in Las Vegas), and
- tours (i.e., Maverick Helicopters, Pink Jeep Tours).
Bonotel uses numerous channel management solutions by DerbySoft, RateTiger, SiteMinder, Travel Click, and other providers for direct connections with hotels.
The company provides RESTful APIs with support for XML messaging for integration with its booking platform and managing static hotel content.
Hotel API is designed for requesting available hotels and rooms based on selected dates and criteria, making reservations, canceling, or modifying them, as well as obtaining booking details. If there is no up-to-date information about the availability of a requested inventory, a user can make an on-request booking. The reservation will be confirmed or canceled within three business hours.
Data API is used for caching static content like hotel address and contacts, photo gallery, services, and facilities. Hotel content is updated every week and comes in English only. Registered users get email notifications before the release.
Also, users can update hotel content by exporting data files in a ZIP archive in CSV and XLS formats with the Static Data service. New static data export ZIPs appear on the Developer Services website. “We add a new entry to the Data Exports RSS feed, which allows you to develop automated solutions which periodically check the RSS feed for updates,” the hotel content and data specification says.
Bonotel has certified technology partners, so you can contact them instead of the provider itself if you need the integration.
HotelsPro: a huge portfolio with a majority of European properties, transfers, and activities
HotelsPro is a global bed bank whose inventory includes over 600,000 hotels across 80,000 destinations with 15,000 cities in 205 countries. While most of its partner hotels are located in Europe, the company is developing its partner connections in other regions through investment and opening of new offices around the world. The wholesaler’s services are primarily designed for tour operators and travel agencies.
Properties of different categories from budget to luxury make the wholesaler’s portfolio diverse.
Accommodation types include:
- budget hotels
- beach hotels (resorts)
- small town hotels, and
- luxury hotels.
Distributing not only lodging but also activities and transfers has become a standard among travel and hospitality businesses. So, the wholesaler follows this approach as well. HotelPro’s travel ancillary products are:
- private, luxury, and shuttle airport transfers in more than 910 cities in 125 countries, to and from 25,000 hotels;
- 65,000+ tours and activities, such as tickets to theme parks, attractions, music and sports. The company also supplies sightseeing tours, air and balloon tours, cycle tours, dinner cruises, and jet boat thrill rides worldwide; and
- car rental from 500+ suppliers in 175 destinations.
HotelsPro has direct contracts with hotels that are uploaded to its Compass extranet system. The number of directly connected hotels exceeds 38,000. Among them, 25,000 are leading chain hotels, and more than 13,000 are independent.
To connect with hotel chains, the bed bank uses channel managers (40+) or switch — a type of channel manager that delivers rates and availability to the Global Distribution Systems. A part of the inventory is sourced from third-party suppliers (80+).
There are two ways to access HotelsPro inventory:
- Via the website. You must register on hotelspro.com and log in to start working with its booking interface.
- Via APIs. The bed bank provides Coral and Compass APIs. The company representatives note that the API’s average response time is 0.4 seconds.
Coral API aggregates hotel products along with information like room type, fees, and rates. With the API, users can search for single or multiple hotels, check availability, make and cancel reservations. Business intelligence complements standard functionality. Coral is a RESTful API that supports exchange of data in JSON.
Cosmos API deals with static data about hotels (facilities, location) and destinations. Another feature is content mapping that’s about making information about the hotel and its facilities up-to-date and consistent. You would need content mapping if you aggregate hotels from different sources. HotelsPro updates static data every day.
WebBeds by Webjet: global presence and a diverse family of brands
WebBeds, a B2B division of WebJet Limited, is the world’s second-largest accommodation supplier. Since its launch in 2013, WebBeds has grown significantly through acquisitions and opening new brands. The wholesaler claims to have room inventory in over 250,000 properties located in 10,000 destinations of more than 170 countries. The bed bank’s clients are retail and corporate travel agents, OTAs, wholesalers, and tour operators.
WebBeds is the family of brands, each with a strong presence in one or several regions:
- JacTravel — one of the leading global hotel accommodation suppliers with the main office in London. JacTravel has direct connections with over 17,000 hotels, an extra additional aggregated portfolio (170,000+ properties), and a large number of preferred group tour suppliers. Totalstay (initially Exclusively Hotels) is part of JacTravel and provides a hotel booking tool for travel agents with room inventory worldwide.
- Sunhotels — the company operates across Europe and is said to be the market leader in the Nordic countries. Sunhotels offers lodging (200,000+ hotels of all categories) in 120 countries, as well as transfers and excursions. If you need a brand with a strong presence in Mediterranean beach properties, consider this one.
- Destination of the World (DOTW) — the global accommodation provider specializing in the Middle East market. DOTW can supply you with more than 160,000 hotels in over 10,000 destinations around the globe.
- FIT Ruums — focuses on the Asian market and offers worldwide hotel accommodation, rail passes and tickets, as well as airport transfers. One of the things you’ll get when partnering with FIT Ruums is hotel content mapping.
- Lots of Hotels — the company has a presence in 26 markets the Middle East and Africa. It has also expanded into the Americas. The company partners with over 250,000 hotels, among which 2000 are directly contracted hotels on static and more than 20,000 are sourced through dynamic connection with leading hotel chains worldwide. The portfolio isn’t limited to accommodation and also includes global transfer, car rental, sightseeing tours, and products and packages customized for individual customers and market segments.
- Umrah Holidays International — religious travel service provider to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The company has direct connections with more than 600 hotels in cities and partners with local tour operators.
The wholesaler mostly partners with small independent hotels saying it serves as an alternative distribution channel. But since WebBeds has acquired three of its brands, its accommodation type mix might have been diversified. Also, the company says it has connections with 25 hotel chains.
WebBeds has both directly contracted and third-party inventory, which prevails in its portfolio:
Generally, WebBeds provides two connectivity options: XML API and direct website connections. However, the options may differ depending on the brand.
Travco: a rich collection of European properties along with global brands and ancillaries
Travco is a hotel wholesaler that provides more than 12,000 hotels located in over 1000 destinations in more than 100 countries. While the wholesaler can’t boast a huge portfolio, its connections with partner hotels are direct. Since the launch in 1988, the family business has grown to 14 offices and regional representatives on four mainlands. The head office is in London.
The wholesaler has a rich collection of European hotels that are the backbone of its inventory. It also partners with global properties noting that new hotels are added to the portfolio every month.
The bed bank works with properties of different status and size, and from five-star hotels to ascetic hostels.
With Travco, you can distribute these accommodation types:
- city hotels,
- spa hotels,
- golf resorts,
- countryside retreats,
- beach resorts,
- hostels, and
- boutique hotels.
Various room categories and board basis options are also available.
It’s not only about hotel inventory. Businesses can add these products and services to their vacation deals:
- airport transfers,
- sightseeing tours,
- passes to top attractions.
Since the wholesaler doesn’t disclose the hotel brands and travel ancillary suppliers, you must contact it for more information.
Following industry standards, Travco offers two connectivity options:
Online booking system. To access hotel inventory, check live availability, and manage FIT and/or group reservations, travel agents or tour operators register and log in here.
XML API. You can sell Travco inventory under their brand by setting up API integration.
The content team closely partners with hoteliers to verify hotel information and help them select high-quality photos. The specialists also translate hotel content into nine languages and send newsletters to inform customers about such changes and news as temporary closures, renovations, hotel name changes, or special offers and rates.
How to choose a bed bank?
It’s your decision which bed bank to go with. From our side, we can suggest you consider these factors before making your choice:
Market segment. What do your customers look like and what do they prefer? If they value comfort and sophisticated atmosphere, among other things, and are ready to pay extra for such accommodation, consider companies focusing on luxury hotels and properties or having a fair share of them in a portfolio. If your goal is to distribute various accommodation types, look at wholesalers with a diversified property selection and, of course, the overall number of lodging suppliers.
Location. Whether you plan to offer travelers housing in a specific area/region or focus on different countries and destinations, check if a bed bank has partner hotels in parts of the world you’re interested in.
Ancillaries. Contact a bed bank if it doesn’t provide detailed info or explore their marketing materials to learn what types of extra services they offer, what suppliers they partner with, and verify whether a rate is better if you have contacted a supplier directly. Knowing this is essential if you provide dynamic packaging, predefined travel deals, or upsell after guest arrival.
Connectivity options. Make sure a bed bank offers the connectivity option you need to run your business. In most cases, the companies offer to book from a website for travel agents and API connectivity. If you choose the API connection, learn about the API speed. In today’s online distribution, each millisecond matters, and nobody wants to lose revenue and ruin customer experience due to duplicates, overbookings, or irrelevant availability data.
Ways of sourcing inventory. Direct connection with hotels is the ideal scenario since the data exchange among a supplier’s or wholesaler’s system and yours may be faster than if inventory was sourced from third-party providers.
Static data management. Learn how frequently a bed bank updates static content data to make sure your customers get fresh, accurate information about products and services.
Cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud computing ensures scalability when it comes to processing booking requests and other procedures. Also, the cloud ensures the security of data. So, our advice is to find out whether the bad bank is migrating or has migrated to the cloud.
Additional features. Extra features and services, such as hotel content mapping, supported languages, and currencies may also make a difference.
Originally published at AltexSoft tech blog “Bed Banks: Comparing Accommodation, Travel Ancillaries, Connectivity of Hotelbeds, Travco, Bonotel, HotelsPro, and WebBeds”