What’s next: an eHarmony for Travel? | VentureBeat

The following is a blog comment on a great VentureBeat article. It shows a bit about our perspective on use of the API to power partnerships & business development activities… and why it must be part of the strategic development & business model planning from the beginning.

Mark – Great article – extremely well researched. I also applaud that you put a heavy emphasis on the API partner program as part of the foundation. In my opinion, it should be part of the early strategic development plan for all SaaS co’s. In fact, for this idea, I see that as a go-to-market strategy prior to or instead of developing a destination site due to heavy costs of doing so.

A note to Reuven of Tripbase.com… yes, it would seem your app is definitely very close to Mark’s article thesis. Nice job on your service. Your partner program seems to be providing a great value-proposition, but also seems to be friction laden & would require a heavy traditional outbound sales approach for success. A couple of thoughts… (disclaimer: I’m a bit of an strategy geek & I realize you may have some of this in place)

Open a tiered API as a means of filling your business development pipeline. Use a solution like http://www.3scale.net to manage the tiered versions of the API and to manage monetization of the premium versions. Not suggesting you change your partner revenue model exactly – only widen & lower the barrier to entry to work with your solution.

First tier would be limited-use, perhaps non-commercial for dev. uses only, limited function/result set, result set would push to your travel site or with usage/time limits. Regardless, this tier 1 freely-available API will foster developer interest & allow them to work with your solution and create innovative uses that perhaps your team has not yet thought of. This engaged group becomes your target for the business dev team – inbound marketing at very little cost.

Higher tiers or premium uses could be monetized via metered use, flat monthly fees, per call or some combination. This can ultimately model your current revenue model of the partner program – just with lower friction in the partner development process.

Lastly, integrate a write component to the API and allow the network effect of your API partners to aggregate an ever growing set of inbound (of-course curated) data – allowing all partners to benefit from each other. See BazaarVoice and how they’ve done this with their aggregated product reviews solution.

 

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