Alexandria, Va., August 10, 2000.
The OpenTravel Alliance (OTA) published today its Version 1 specifications that gives the travel industry one universal format for collecting and exchanging customer preferences among airlines, hotels, car rental companies, tour operators, travel agencies, and related services. OTA has provided copies of the version to the ebXML meeting that is being held in San Jose, Calif., this week.
The OTA customer profile has innovative features to make life easier for travelers. The common format allows the travel industry and its web sites to collect information on identification and preferences only once and exchange it with suppliers of travel services as well as their intermediaries. The specification lets customers define collections of travel service in terms of their own varied needs, such as business travel or the annual church retreat. OTA Version 1 also contains comprehensive privacy features that enable the customer to control any transfer of personal data. The built-in controls allow only specified parts of the profile to be exchanged.
"The technical and organizational experience from Version 1 provides an excellent foundation for our work on common availability and reservations messages for travel suppliers, which is now well under way, and should allow us to complete this by the end of the year," said OTA Vice Chair Stephanie Kenyon of the American Association of Travel Agents.
The OTA specifications' use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) helps make e-business more accessible to a wider number of companies by defining common industry terms for Internet-based data exchange. The specifications include electronic XML validation rules, called document type definitions, as well as many sample OTA messages. The drafts of these that were issued in February 2000 generated comments from all over the world, from both inside and outside the travel industry. The final specifications released today incorporate these, which have significantly strengthened Version 1. They can be freely downloaded from www.opentravel.org.
OTA participates in the Electronic Business XML (ebXML) initiative to develop a single XML message infrastructure to facilitate communication between different businesses and industries in different countries. ebXML used OTA's draft sample messages as part of its proof of concept tests at its May meeting in Brussels, Belgium. As a further contribution to ebXML, OTA is providing its Version 1 specifications. OTA is keen to align its specifications with those in other industries, including the work of the CPExchange initiative, and sees ebXML as an effective way of doing this.
With over 150 members representing influential names in all sectors of the travel industry, including air, car, hotel, travel agencies, technology providers and other travel related suppliers, the Alliance 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 www.opentravel.org.