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Hotel technology next generation releases interface specifications

Hospitality technology buyers and providers will benefit from one of the largest sets of new and improved standards ever incorporated into a single release cycle by Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG). Major elements of these just-released specifications result from three of HTNG’s most recently chartered workgroups.

The new standards enhance the sharing of customer profile data across hotel systems; they enable improved delivery of guest folio data to systems that need it; and they provide a hosted payment scheme for hotel websites and central reservation systems (CRSs) that can potentially remove those systems from the scope of onerous PCI security standards.

“Our volunteer leaders and contributors from across the industry, as well as the supporting HTNG staff, have been incredibly productive in the past six months. We and the entire industry owe them a debt of gratitude,” said Douglas Rice, HTNG’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer. The workgroup volunteers who collaborated on these specifications represented more than 50 hotel companies and technology solutions providers from across the industry. “Their direction, expertise and collaborative focus have delivered – to hotels and technology providers alike – easier, standardized approaches for systems to exchange basic information,” said Rice. “This allows IT organizations and vendors to focus their limited resources on capabilities that drive competitive advantage, rather than on basic functionality.”

A summary of the specifications follows.

  • Customer Profile Specification Version 1.0 – This specification provides the industry with a common definition of customer profiles that is richer, more hotel-specific, and more structured than previously available. It enables systems to exchange guest and other profiles out-of-the-box and with minimum customization. The specification builds on prior OpenTravel Alliance standards, with modifications developed through cooperation between HTNG and OpenTravel.
  • Folio Detail Exchange Specification Version 1.0 – This new specification will allow hotels to share data from guest folios to a range of hotel and third-party systems that can use the data for other applications.  To achieve this, the specification defines a set of messages that will pass presentation and transactional-level data from a PMS (or other folio system) to systems that support analytics, loyalty, invoice dematerialization, VAT reclamation, centralized direct billing, corporate expense reporting and other applications.
  • Hosted Payment Capture Systems Specification Version 1.0 -Hosted payment capture systems provide a means to collect sensitive payment information from a customer on a secure, hosted system, typically hosted by a payment gateway or other third party. This approach can minimize the burden of PCI compliance for booking websites and for other hotel systems (such as central reservation systems). Control is transferred temporarily to the hosted secure site, maintaining the look and feel of the main website or system. Hotel systems using this approach can potentially move outside the scope of PCI requirements, vastly reducing compliance costs.
  • Product Distribution – Updates to HTNG’s distribution specifications, already mature and extensively used throughout the industry, provide many enhancements, corrections and documentation improvements. Functional additions include the ability for Rate Plans to be flagged as yieldable or not, and quotable in multiple currencies. Ongoing efforts are continuing on the development of standards to support dynamic packaging, which will enable hotels and distributors to more easily provide a wide range of entertainment, transportation, services and other activities as part of the booking process.
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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