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New OTA XML Specification Includes Cross-Industry Availability and Booking Capabilities

May 23, 2001.

The OpenTravel Alliance (OTA), formed to improve the electronic exchange of business information across all sectors of the travel industry, has released a draft of its enhanced customer profile specification for public review.

OTA Version 2001A merges the OTA and Hospitality Industry Technology Integration Standards (HITIS) respective customer profiles into one comprehensive profile. Uniting the requirements of both hospitality and travel industries expedites the imminent adoption of this new OTA specification.

The 2001A public release also includes a major infrastructure change that incorporates emerging Extensible Markup Language (XML) capabilities. OTA Version 2001A adopts a portion of the messaging structure developed by the Electronic Business XML (ebXML) Transport, Routing and Packaging project team.

In addition, OTA released 2001B for member review. This version includes the complete set of revised HITIS standards for the hotel industry coupled with availability and booking specifications to serve airline, car rental, package holidays from consumer to supplier, and travel insurance industries. Eagerly awaited by all sectors of the travel industry, the upcoming 2001B specification will be the culmination of a cross-industry effort led by the OTA that has been underway since mid-2000.

To assist programmers with implementation, OTA specifications now consist of the following components:

  • Specification Document, which contains traditional specification information: user license, acknowledgements, introduction and explanations of the business content of the specification.

  • XML Schema and Schema Fragments in conformance with the W3C Candidate Recommendation. Schema fragments define the individual modular pieces of a specification for reusability, and the schema at the message level defines the entire specification for that message.

  • Document Type Definition (DTD), which supports implementations that rely on parsers for validation and have not yet moved to accommodate validation of XML schema.

  • UML Model, which models data relationships, elements and attributes and their descriptions in a Rational Rose format.

  • Data Dictionary, which is an alphabetical list of the elements and attributes defined in the specification, showing parent class, cardinality and relationships to other elements.

  • Appendices, which list references to other standards used in OTA specifications and a history of revisions.

Last week's annual Advisory Forum, where both versions of the specification were released, hosted more than 140 leaders representing all aspects of the travel industry, and elected the following officers to OTA's Board of Directors:

  • President: Mike Kistner, Vice President & Chief Information Officer for Best Western International, Inc.

  • Vice President & Secretary (re-elected): Stephanie Kenyon, Vice President of Industry Affairs & Travel Technology for the American Society of Travel Agents

  • Treasurer: Mark Smith, Manager of Business Planning for American Airlines

OTA members also elected Walter (Al) Cheek, Vice President of Reservation & Sales Distribution at Cendant Corporation, as a new member of the Board.

With over 150 members representing influential names in all sectors of the travel industry, OTA is comprised of five work groups - air, car, hotel, leisure supplier, and non-supplier. These groups, together with an interoperability committee to coordinate their efforts, are developing open Internet-compatible messages using XML data terms. To learn more about OTA, visit


Julia O'Brien

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See "OpenTravel Alliance (OTA)."

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