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Created: November 20, 2002.
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OpenTravel Alliance (OTA) Publishes XML Specification Version 2002B.

The OpenTravel Alliance (OTA) has announced a Version 2002B release of its Extensible Markup Language (XML) specification for public review and comment. OTA develops XML-based communications specifications to support the efficient and effective exchange of travel industry information via the Internet. This Version 2002B specification "expands on the messages previously published, offering additional opportunities for trading partners within the travel industry to communicate with one another." Messages have been re-defined according to OTA's published Best Practices Guidelines for all of its XML data assets. The general OTA guideline approach is "to maximize component (elements/attributes) reuse for the highly diverse and yet closely related travel industry data; this is accomplished by building messages via context-driven component assembly. The application of best practices design and the re-definition of the XML component constructs to the specification supports a path of seamless integration and enhanced interoperability within all disciplines of the travel sector. With over 150 members representing influential names in all sectors of the travel industry, OTA is comprised of representatives from the airlines, car rental firms, hotels, leisure suppliers, service providers, tour operators, travel agencies, and trade associations. Together with an OTA interoperability committee to coordinate WG efforts, the OTA working groups develop open Internet-compatible messages using XML."

Bibliographic information: OTA Final 2002B Specification. November 7, 2002. PDF document, 38 pages. Comments are due by 29-November-2002. The OTA 2002B Specification is comprised of two documents: (a) a text-based PDF document that describes the XML-based message sets; (b) a ZIP archive that contains the actual XML message sets, stored in 134 XML Schema .XSD files). Section 1: Air Working Group; Section 2: Car Working Group; Section 3: Hotel Working Group; Section 4: Package Tours/Holiday Bookings; Section 5: Golf Tee Times; Section 6: Insurance; Section 7: Travel Itinerary Messages; Section 8: Rail Messages; Section 9: Loyalty Messages.

Summary of messages in the OTA 2002B Specification message sets [from the 'Final' spec 2002-11-07]. See the listing of individual messages in the Schema filelist.

  • Section 1: Air Working Group. "The OTA Air Messages for the 2002B specification are designed to complete two flight-shopping sequences in an eCommerce scenario: (a) Availability led Booking, where the client searches for available flights for each leg of their journey, chooses a flight for each leg, prices the flights and then books. (b) Fare led Availability, where the client performs a Low Fare Search for complete, priced, flight itineraries, chooses one option and then books. As part of the selling process, Fare Rule information and Flight Detail information may also need to be available to the client..."
  • Section 2: Car Working Group. "The 2002B release makes extensive use of shared components to make the messages interoperable with other OTA working groups. Examples of such cross-industry components include Customer Information, Payment information and Flight Arrival Details. This commonality and interoperability work makes the OTA specification much more modular and reduces barriers to entry..."
  • Section 3: Hotel Working Group. "A key driver behind the 2002B specification was to make the messages interoperable with other OTA messages through the extensive use of shared components. The Hotel Work Group supported the OTA goal by both re-using and supplying interoperable components. This ['Final'] release also introduced a new set of code table lists for all messages. Some examples of code table items are heavily used in certain messages like the Hotel Descriptive Content file for values such as Room Amenity codes, Hotel Category codes, Business Service Type codes, etc..."
  • Section 4: Package Tours/Holiday Bookings. "A package holiday usually consists of a single 'pre-defined' offering with or without a choice of basic elements such as transport and accommodation. The business model for this concept is that allocated blocks of transport and accommodation inventory for a season' or brochure period', typically Summer' (May to October) and Winter' (November to April) are reserved by a tour operator from the supplier. These are combined into package holiday inventory items, and set up and sold from the tour operator's system. Notification to the original supplier of the take-up of individual inventory items takes place a short period before departure of the customers. The use cases covered in this document relate to the selling by the tour operator of the packages from their internal inventory stock. A booking can contain any number of itinerary elements, such as transport, accommodation, car rental, extra products or services, special services, extras, etc. Itinerary or journey elements are distinct by type of service and product, place of delivery, date and time the service is offered and can be individually assigned to one or more of the customers involved in the booking..."
  • Section 5: Golf Tee Times. "The OTA Golf Tee Times provides three separate request/response pairs of messages to support the functionality of requesting data from another system in the process of finding a golf course, inquiring as to availability, and booking a tee time. All message sets assume a pull model, where the originating system requests a specific set of data (as agreed by trading partners)..."
  • Section 6: Insurance. "Travel insurance exists to protect the traveler and the traveler's investments in the journey. Travelers usually find four reasons to invest in travel insurance. Travel medical insurance protects the travelers' health and safety while traveling outside of their primary medical insurance coverage area. Travel medical insurance often covers the costs of medical treatment and hospitalization in the event of an accident or illness and may provide monetary compensation to a beneficiary in the unfortunate event of the insured's death...The XML Schema file contains the structure and contents of four separate messages for travel insurance: (a) Quote request (b) Quote response (c) Booking request (d)Booking response..."
  • Section 7: Travel Itinerary Messages. "The Travel Industry has successfully enjoyed the benefits of feature rich electronic data exchange among global trading partners for decades. The Travel Itinerary message (or Passenger Name Record -- PNR) is widely used to integrate, manage and service travel content -- which includes: Air, Car, Hotels, Rail, and Tour & Cruise. The following is a list of travel content information traditionally contained within the Travel Itinerary (includes but not limited): (a) Personal Traveler Related Information -- Name, Address, Phone, etc.; (b) Booked Travel Segments -- Air, Car, Hotel, Tour/Cruise, etc.; (c) Ticketing, Pricing & Form of Payment Information; (d) Special Service Request and Remark Details; (e) Travel Itinerary or PNR Synchronization; (f) Complete Travel Itinerary Book Request; (g) Travel Itinerary Update/Modify; (h) Travel Itinerary Cancel/Ignore...
  • Section 8: Rail Messages. "The Rail availability request provides the ability to request rail services between two station pairs on a specific date, for a specific number of passengers of a particular passenger type; The Book Request message requests a Train Reservation on a specific rail service provider for travel between two or more stations on specific dates for a specific number and type of passengers in specific classes of service..."
  • Section 9: Loyalty Messages. "Many companies in the travel industry offer loyalty programs. In the past, many companies managed their own loyalty programs, but now there are specialized companies who's sole business is to manage loyalty programs. This standard message set allows for the travel industry to communicate with the loyalty industry. All currently defined verticals in the OTA can use this message set..."

See also the OTA 2002A Specification. A 'Final' OTA 2002A Message Specification was released August 23, 2002. It presents a brief description [24 pages] of the OTA 2002A Specification RQ/RS message pairs. The 2002A Specification "marks the initial application of the 2001C OTA Best Practices section to the complete OTA message payload and fragment documents, namely 2001B and 2001C message documents. In the process, OTA has reviewed every component developed within 2001B and 2001C message sets to address both the interoperability of the components and to maximize the reusability and extension of these components. This provides for a better, more complete solution for all OTA messages. The OTA 2002A Specification is published as a PDF document that describes the XML-based message sets, together with a ZIP archive that contains the actual XML message sets."

About OTA:

"The OpenTravel Alliance (OTA) is a self-funded, non-profit organization. OTA is a comprised of major airlines, hoteliers, car rental companies, leisure suppliers, travel agencies, global distribution systems (GDS), technology providers and other interested parties working to create and implement industry-wide, open e-business specifications. These specifications form a common e-business language that will encourage development of systems to create new collections of services to better meet the demands and expectations of travelers and the travel industry."

"The OTA is dedicated to helping the travel industry take full advantage of the near universal access to the Internet and related technologies. By working in cross industry sectors, each sector within OTA identifies its particular industry needs and appropriate terms. A final product of the alliance is a dictionary of common usage terms used throughout the industry. This dictionary of terms is being compiled and used in XML specifications."

"The OTA XML dictionary and the OTA's 'open' specifications are supported by the organization of the Alliance. The OTA provides for an Air Working Group, a Hotel Working Group, Car Working Group, a working group for other travel suppliers such as rail, cruise, bus, and a Travel Integration Working Group (formerly Non-supplier Working Group). The Travel Integration Working Group (formerly Non-supplier Working Group) includes travel agents, Internet Service Providers, and other entities that do not directly provide travel services. The working groups share information through an Interoperability Working Committee made up from leads of each working group.

The OTA completes its work with a global awareness. In addition to working with other organizations such as, Travel Technology Initiative (TTI) and the UN/CEFACT, the OTA has enhanced its structure to allow for work to be completed within Project Teams. These teams support the completion of work within or across travel industry verticals as well as can address specific needs within and across geographic regions.

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