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Travel and Hospitality Industries Join Forces to Converge Standards Development Efforts

DALLAS, TX. June 22, 2000.

The Hospitality Industry Technology Integration Standards (HITIS) initiative of the American Hotel and Motel Association (AH&MA) and the OpenTravel Alliance (OTA) reached an agreement June 20 to develop and maintain standards technically relevant to their industries.

The following key players represented the organizations during the negotiations: Robert Elliott, vice president of the AH&MA and chairman of the HITIS Advisory Committee, with Mike Kistner of Cendant, Anne Cole of Hilton and Nick Lanyon of Lanyon, Inc., from OTA's Board of Directors.

In addition, several members of the HITIS Advisory Committee participated in reaching the agreement, including Jeff Eckard of Bass Hotels & Resorts, David Sjolander of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, Rob Grimes of CynterCorp, Bill Geoghegan, chairman of the CRS technical committee, and Larry Chervenak of CKC, Inc.

Caryl Helsel, from Kimpton Hotel Group, president of the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA), Scott Anderson from Cendant, and the other representatives from the hotel industry, were extremely instrumental in forging a blueprint for the coordination of the XML standards.

The agreement will turn responsibility for the Central Reservation System (CRS) standards over to OTA, while HITIS will maintain the responsibility for all standards not involved in the CRS environment.

The fundamental issues of this agreement are:

  • HITIS will donate its recently completed CRS standards to the hotel working group of the OTA. In addition, the Activities Booking and Golf Tee Times standards currently in process will be turned over to the OTA.

  • AH&MA will be granted a perpetual membership in the OTA as a member of the hotel working group.

  • This membership will permit up to six seats on the non-supplier working group which may be filled by AH&MA designees. These designees may sit in on the hotel working group as non-voting participants.

  • The AH&MA sponsored participants are free to run for OTA board positions and other OTA positions, as may any other representative.

  • Both parties will make a best effort to merge their respective Customer Profile standards within the next 90 days. Specific issues to be addressed are data elements, naming conventions, and versioning.

  • Once the common Customer Profile specification has been reconciled, HITIS shall be permitted a designated member on the interoperability committee of the OTA.

  • Those standards that remain the responsibility of HITIS may reference parts of the CRS standards. Both groups understand the importance of stability for vendors and hotel groups programming to the HITIS standards, and that future specifications must permit references to previous versions.

This agreement establishes the basis for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the AH&MA and the OTA. The MOU will be presented for ratification by the respective organizations.

Bill Fisher, President and CEO of the AH&MA stated, "The AH&MA is very pleased to provide OTA and the hospitality and travel industries with core elements of our Central Reservation System standards from HITIS. This cooperative agreement culminates a three-year industry-wide effort led by AH&MA in developing electronic reservation booking and distribution standards. More than 130 contributors from all aspects of the hospitality industry were responsible for developing the HITIS standards. Our contribution to OTA establishes a firm foundation for OTA to move their specifications forward. AH&MA believes that this agreement serves both the hospitality and travel industries, and the resulting synergy will further enhance development and adoption of standards."

Jim Young, managing director of Continental Airlines and chairman of the OTA Board of Directors remarked, "OTA is delighted to be able to build on the foundation of the HITIS work, as this will accelerate completion of our work for the travel industry as a whole."

Caryl Helsel, president of HEDNA commented, "HEDNA was pleased to influence this important industry agreement. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with both organizations in the future."

OTA, which began in May 1999, now has over 125 members representing influential names in all sectors of the travel industry, including air, car rental, hotel, travel agencies, technology providers and related suppliers.

The Alliance is comprised of five working groups air, car, hotel, leisure supplier, and non-supplier together with an interoperability committee to coordinate their efforts. OTA defined its open messages with XML that makes it possible to exchange business data seamlessly among different systems, companies, and industries over the World Wide Web.

AH&MA, founded in 1910, is a federation of state lodging associations throughout the United States, with some 11,000 property members worldwide, representing more than 1.4 million rooms. AH&MA provides operations, technical, educational, marketing, and communications services plus governmental affairs representation to the lodging industry.

HEDNA, comprised of 215 of the most influential companies operating within the hotel distribution industry, is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1991. Promoting and improving the use of travel agent computer systems, HEDNA seeks to automate and streamline the hotel reservation process through the use of GDS and other electronic means.

HEDNA works diligently with all segments of the hotel industry to effectively evolve their systems and services and ultimately contribute to the success of the entire industry. For additional information, please visit

Julia O'Brien, 703/837-6155

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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