HTNG Releases Interface Specifications for Kiosks, Payment Systems and Distribution
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
CHICAGO (May 11, 2010) - Connectivity among hospitality systems was enhanced recently with the release of new specifications from the working groups of the nonprofit industry association, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG). The specifications create new standard interfaces for connecting hotel guest kiosks to property management systems, as well as for simplifying connectivity of payment systems and enabling a new model for more accurate and seamless hotel distribution.
The specifications are part of HTNG's ongoing effort to improve the operations and connectivity of technologies throughout hotel properties. Workgroups release new or revised specifications about every six months. Vendors can certify their products to most specifications, so that hoteliers and partners know that such products conform to the highest standards of open-systems interoperability. The highlights of the latest cycle include:
Easier Connection of Guest Kiosks to a Property Management System
Connecting a guest kiosk to a Property Management System (PMS) will be easier with the first specification from HTNG's Kiosk Integration workgroup. The specification provides a standard interface that helps guests check-in, issue room keys, review folios, check-out, and process payments. Companies who need to connect kiosks to PMSs will benefit by only needing to write an interface once; the same interface should then connect to any other system that also uses the specification, with minimal effort. To ensure maximum compatibility with existing technologies, the workgroup has based its initial work on OpenTravel Alliance schemas, and also leverages messages from another HTNG workgroup that focuses on payment systems. Several of the kiosk and PMS vendors who collaborated in creating the specification are already working on implementing the specification in hopes of achieving a significant reduction in custom development time, effort and cost for new installations.
Payment Systems to Benefit from Standard PMS Interface
Another workgroup created a specification that will simplify the effort to create and maintain interfaces between PMSs and payment gateways. A primary goal of the new specification is to eliminate the need for PMS vendors to write and maintain multiple interfaces to payment gateways and vice versa - currently a very time consuming activity. This specification provides a single interface solution that covers standard credit card activities: authorization, incremental authorization, authorization reversal, settlement, sale, void settlement, and returns. To achieve greater operational efficiency, the specification also establishes web services as the transport and handshake protocol for transactions as a more reliable means of communications.
New Product Distribution Model
Consumers shopping for hotel rooms online will receive more accurate data and faster transactions from suppliers using the HTNG's new distribution specification. The latest addition to the already robust and widely adopted Distribution specification include a "Seamless Shop and Book" distribution model, which offers a more real-time status about room availability, rates and inventory to online shoppers, by retrieving this information directly from the source. It is also much easier to implement than either the existing "Push" or "Pull" versions. Other models typically call for the storage of availability, rates and inventory in a cache at a third party location which creates the potential for the information to get out of sync, causing end-user frustration, for example when a website is unable to confirm a room rate that it displays as available.
In addition to these efforts, HTNG members are actively working in many other hospitality technology areas, and HTNG is also currently assessing the possibility of several new workgroup efforts focused on these areas:
- Guest room access via near field communications
- Shared global network
- Shared services for guestroom device provisioning and management
- Facilitating migration to above-property systems
- VAT tax processing for automated reclaiming of VAT for guests
- Enhancing cell phone coverage for all carriers
- CRM/Standardizing sharing of guest-related information between databases
- Enhancing point-of-sale interfaces
Anyone can register interest in any of these potential efforts through this web form, which has additional details about the topics. Note: Any industry experts, including non-members of HTNG, are welcome to participate in these evaluative discussions and contribute their expertise to our approach. However, if the effort evolves into a new workgroup, HTNG membership is required in order to participate.
For copies of any of the specifications mentioned in this release (and other specifications HTNG has created for hospitality), visit http://www.opengroup.org/htng/specs/ and choose "2010A". Alternatively, information about these and other HTNG specifications is also available on the association's website at www.htng.org or its wiki that provides more details on the latest status of any of workgroup or its collaboration site which lists all completed specifications.