This article was originally published as a blog post by AltexSoft. It is published here with permission.
Exploring foreign places in a rental car offers multiple perks: You can get far off the beaten path, avoid wasting time trying to figure out public transportation or limiting your itinerary in case of a poor local transit system. Ranked as the fourth most popular mode of transportation, car rental attracts a growing number of users each year.
Since car rental is an integral part of the travel industry, it clearly makes sense to tie it into your travel or hospitality service. And Application Programming Interfaces or APIs can help you connect the dots fetching the necessary info. For clarity, check our video explaining how API enables connectivity in travel systems.
In our article on the fundamentals of travel APIs, we briefly address the car rental industry. Now, we’ll expand on this topic introducing major car rental API providers currently on the market, and their features that you can benefit from.
GDS APIs: Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport
Standing at the core of the reservation network, global distribution systems (GDSs) store and retrieve travel-related data, further sharing it with travel agents, booking engines, etc., through their proprietary web services APIs. The car rental GDS landscape consists of Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport.
This leading travel tech solutions provider covers a range of travel sectors, including over 40 car rental brands. Using Sabre APIs, you can receive data about vehicle location and availability, rental rate, and incorporate car reservation itself. APIs can be downloaded right from the Sabre Dev Studio website.
Car Locations API enables vehicle search that matches set criteria like address, city name, point of interest, etc., along with additional attributes: vehicle type, one-way rentals, and so on. Besides locating vehicles this API allows for:
- choosing vehicle type
- displaying special equipment
- requesting a car pickup and return date/location
- calculating the length of the rental
- estimating the rental rate and then the total charge including extra mileage fees.
Geo Search API can also be used to find car rental whereabouts, specifically:
- geo search using custom radius
- polygon search in a precise area returning specific and relevant results
- distance between the resolved locations.
Car Availability API retrieves rental car availability and total pricing data based on a specified pickup location and travel date. While offering customisable car rentals search the API returns data on:
- available rental cars most closely mapped to the specified location
- rental car price by vehicle type
- payment indicators and a rate plan type (prepaid, inclusive, or negotiated/corporate).
So while providing insight into the rental car rates and availability, this API allows new customers to find their preferred rental car company within their specified geographic area.
Book Car Reservation API enables reserving a vehicle with additional info like flight arrival information, customer address, different return location, etc. If you need to make any changes to the confirmed reservation, use the Modify Car Reservation API.
Amadeus’ main set of APIs covers multiple distribution types, car rentals included. To access Amadeus content, register your account and then get a unique API key that you’ll provide in API calls.
Amadeus Car & Transfers Enterprise APIs connect over 40 global car rental providers, along with local and regional providers. By adding Amadeus Cars, you’ll enrich your travel portal with:
- extensive, real-time rental car booking information
- multimedia content that adds depth to your product offering
- geographical coordinates, detailed map displays, and location shuttle indicators.
Travelport Universal API obtains data directly from providers: Galileo, Apollo, Worldspan, and Axess. It offers a range of relevant content for car search and booking:
- search for availability, images, details, and pricing
- vehicle reservation and further operations with it: modification, retrieval, and cancelation
To check out Universal API, you can request test access for 30 days.
Tech service providers’ APIs for car rentals: Travelopro, Trawex, eTravos
Cut out for B2B travel services, tech service providers help building the right car rental solutions leveraging their APIs.
This car-hire distribution channel targets both small and multinational businesses. Travelopro network embraces over a hundred countries. Its car rental reservation systemcan be integrated through the API.
Car Hire Search and Booking API allows for:
- finding car deals with advanced search options
- providing real-time car prices
- tracking car availability and rental activity at certain locations
- integrating payment gateway
- managing car rental reservations
- accessing multi-language customer support.
Trawex APIs directly connect clients to their car rental booking software, so that OTAs, tour operators, or travel management companies can provide their customers with car deals in over 70 countries.
Trawex Car APIs have a range of features to offer:
- car availability tracking
- vehicle booking with instant confirmation updates
- ample pick-up and drop-off options
- cutting-edge search options
- high-quality support
- live price feeds
- fee customisation depending on location.
India’s largest cloud travel technology platform, eTravos maintains more than 300 clients in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
eTravos Car Booking API connects users to its car rental software, enabling the following car booking operations:
- searching for cars by location, travel dates, and driver nationality
- filtering cars by categories, door, size, or car list
- selecting insurance options
- checking price, availability, and credit
- sending notifications
In addition, eTravos also has a white label connectivity option.
OTA and Aggregator APIs: Expedia, Skyscanner, Priceline, and Travelfusion
Being customer-focused, aggregators provide the widest visibility into car rentals, while online travel agencies offer planning services and booking capabilities. Major car rentals retailers are Expedia, Skyscanner, Priceline, Rentcars, and Travelfusion.
Expedia Affiliate Network provides the tools to find everything necessary for travel, cars for rent included.
- search for rental cars using the pickup location IATA codes along with pickup and dropoff dates
- sort the returned cars by ascending prices
- filter the results on specific suppliers
- limit the number of cars returned to optimise the response size.
You can integrate the Expedia API with your travel portal by enrolling in their affiliate program. Once your application is approved, you get all needed credentials to access their API. However, prior to letting you go live, Expedia reviews the affiliate websites, so make sure yours meets their launch requirements.
Although Skyscanner’s strong suit is its flight fare search, the aggregator also provides car rental API. By the way, if you’d like to learn about flight booking APIs, we’ve got an informative article on this topic as well.
Skyscanner Car Hire is a global car hire distribution channel. By connecting to it via API, you’ll take advantage of the following features:
- sophisticated car search features (e.g. broad search queries)
- real-time streaming of car prices
- browsing ability and live car price feeds
To get the API, become a direct partner. Apply using the contact form and Skyscanner will consider you for access to their API service. You also have an option of using Skyscanner’s widgets, deep-links, and banners. In this case, you can join their affiliate network.
Priceline Partner Network’s API, among other things, allows for retrieving and booking cars for rent. Complemented by Rentalcars content, the API responds with dynamic car rental data targeting over 180 countries. Note that they only consider partners who generate no less than five bookings per day. So if that’s your case and you’d like to make use of the Priceline API, fill out their contact form.
While specialising primarily in flight search, Travelfusion XML API also gives access to car data aggregated from Amadeus, Sabre, Bravofly, and TUI.it. There are two booking options:
Search and Refer API. You control the customer and the user interface until a car is selected. Then the user is forwarded to the supplier’s website to finalise the booking.
Search and Book API. The entire booking process takes place at your website or app.
To integrate the API, you’ll need to register and sign the license agreement. Travelfusion also has an XML API support team that can help you in case of any technical issues.
Other connectivity approaches
Not every provider applies an API-led approach for integration. Some use white-label solutions, banners, or search engines instead.
CarTrawler: GDS-type connectivity
One of the leading end-to-end transport technology solutions, CarTrawler is a cost-effective choice for smaller, niche-oriented car rental companies, as it eliminates the usual GDS fees. With the CarTrawler model, car rental companies pay a commission only after the consumer pays at the rental counter.
Partnering with CarTrawler will give you access to full ground transport solutions from over 2,000 agents in 50,000 locations. To join its agent network, submit a partnership application.
Rentalcars by Booking.com is a car rental and pre-booked taxi service operating in 60,000 locations worldwide. Becoming a Rentalcars Connect partner is free and it will allow you to create car rental integrations on your website.
Rentalcars affiliate program allows for embedding car booking support in your website as:
- static and dynamic customisable banners redirecting to the Rentalcars.com home page with country and dates pre-populated
- widgets showing instant results and prices according to the input reservation details
- a booking engine sending the user to the Rentalcars.com search results page to complete the reservation.
Rentcars: a portal for car rental comparisons, discounts, and services
Rentcars operates in over 160 countries and has more than a hundred rental suppliers gathered in one convenient location. Kayak and ViajaNet benefit from its services. Rentcars affiliate program offers the following integrations:
- search engines redirecting to Rentcars.com with the search criteria pre-populated.
- white label solution integrates Rentcars’ search and booking system into a website.
Integrating with major suppliers
If it’s more viable for you to integrate directly with car rental companies, here’s an overview of the major players and ways of connecting to them.
Hertz GDS integration
In terms of sales Hertz is the biggest car rental company in the US with offices in more than 145 countries. Hertz offers a multitude of different rental options and a great NeverLost GPS program with online trip planner. It allows for displaying and booking its rates and services through GDSs.
Dollar and Thrifty Connect the dots affiliate program
These sister companies are known for offering wallet-friendly car deals. Operating as subsidiaries of The Hertz Corporation, the brands enable affiliation via link connections. After putting their link on your website, you earn commissions every time your user books a car with them. International areas served include the US, Australia, Canada, Caribbean Islands, and Latin America.
Avis, a unit of the Avis Budget Group, is a luxury car rental company operating in North America, South America, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Avis provides its customers with a convenient car hire app that manages your reservation from booking to drop-off.
To add the Avis API to your existing application, request access to it in their system after signup. It can assist your users with:
- looking for rental car brand locations
- getting pickup/dropoff details
- checking vehicle availability
- obtaining a car rate
- providing a car reservation summary.
Alternatively, the global supplier allows for integrating its white label car rental solution.
Enterprise Holdings: Alamo, National, and Enterprise
Enterprise Holdings is the parent company of three brands: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent a Car. Their affiliate program is comprised of a variety of tools to attract customers to the brands’ websites: web banners, product specific landing pages, logos, deep-links, and promotional text links. To host the deals, affiliates must meet some qualifications for admittance.
Covering about 4,000 locations in over 105 countries, Sixt offers a range of constantly updated banners, buttons, and text links that can be tailored to fit the target group.
Auto Europe affiliate program
This car rental wholesale company operates in over 180 countries worldwide and provides the following services:
- vehicle hire including prestige and sports cars
- chauffeur and transfer services between rail, airport, and hotel.
You can read more on airport transfer functionality integration with booking systems in our dedicated article.
Auto Europe offers integration of their booking tools on web-affiliates’ sites using promotional widgets, links, and banners.
Car rental industry trends
As noted by Neil Abrams, veteran car rental analyst, the car rental industry is currently in a transformative stage. So, companies keep their eyes open for new ways of doing business. They grow revenue offering car-sharing services, go green to support environmentally aware customers, and expand their services beyond traditional rentals.
Carsharing: car rental by the hour
A point-to-point car-sharing service is profitable for suppliers and convenient for users. Car2Go is an example of a carsharing service with flexible credits and rental rates. Users must download an app and validate their license there. Then they can hop in any available car and later leave it in any legally approved spot.
To manage short term car bookings, you can leverage the Car2Go API. It’ll provide you with up-to-date information on:
- available vehicles
- parking places
- local gas stations.
Green vehicles: eco-friendly suppliers
As environmental awareness keeps conquering minds, it finds its reflection in the car rental industry too. Eco-friendly vehicle suppliers have a chance to stand out and instantly win their target customers. Green Motion, car and van rental eco brand, offers green cars for hire. By means of their API, the Green Motion management system connects to outsider systems to provide the following functionalities:
- accessing charging stations
- keeping a record of charging points
- recovering recharging transactions
- integrating with parking tickets systems
- facilitating recharge payment by text message
- integrating with carsharing systems: reservation of charging stations, identification of the connected vehicle.
Pushing car rentals further: optional tours and vehicle sales
Aiming at diversity and better customer service, car rental providers extend their sphere of operation. For instance, Hertz paired with travel platform PlacePass to integrate curated in-destination experiences along with car hire services. So now when booking a rental car through Hertz, customers can also sign up for excursions. In its turn, Avis approach car sales. They create greater buyer confidence in the purchase of a rental vehicle offering low-mileage, competitively-priced cars that are certified.