HTNG operates the only Branding and Certification Program for hotel technology. The "HTNG Certified" logo on a technology product gives buyers the assurance that a vendor's promises of interoperability are backed up by specific conformance to industry-defined norms. It allows conforming vendors to advertise this assurance to their customers while ensuring that non-conforming vendors cannot.
What Does HTNG Certification Mean?
HTNG certification represents a commitment from a vendor that a specific product conforms to one or more relevant HTNG technical specifications. It does not typically mean that the product conforms to all HTNG technical specifications, because for most products, only certain HTNG specifications are relevant or meaningful. Relevance is defined in context: you may need a property management system to be able to interface to a spa system, while another hotel may not. We don't know what's relevant to you, but you do, and our documentation is designed to help you assess whether an HTNG-certified product has the relevant interface functionality you need.
To certify a product, a vendor completes a Conformance Statement (a public document that you can find posted on HTNG's Certification Register).
- The Conformance Statement identifies which technical specifications have been implemented.
- For specifications that include optional functionality, the vendor must also identify which optional functions have been implemented.
- Buyers can consult these Conformance Statements to determine exactly what claims a vendor has made, and committed to stand behind.
Certification typically says nothing about product functionality. Rather, HTNG requirements focus on interfaces and interoperability.
HTNG Certification says that a particular version of a vendor's product (or sometimes a combination of products) meets the requirements of a particular version of HTNG's specifications. To ensure interoperability between two HTNG Certified products, buyers should ensure that the products are certified to the same version of HTNG's specifications (e.g. 2011A), or if not, then that the relevant underlying technical specifications are compatible by referencing the Version Equivalence page). Interfacing different versions is often possible, but may require some custom development by one or both parties to the interface.
What Products Can Be Certified?
- Most hospitality software products can be certified to HTNG specifications.
- Some products, like Property Management Systems, can be certified to any or all of a large set of HTNG technical specifications.
- Because new HTNG standards are continually being developed, other software products may only have one or a few relevant HTNG technical specifications.
- Visit our Specifications by Product Type page to see what HTNG specifications are relevant to the most common hospitality software product categories.
- Most HTNG technical specifications for software interfaces may be certified.
- As of mid-2011, HTNG does not certify hardware devices, but expects to do so on a limited basis in the future.
Are HTNG-Certified Products Independently Tested?
No. Vendors are responsible for their own testing. However, the program gives each vendor a real incentive to test thoroughly:
- By certifying, the vendor agrees to participate in an HTNG-sponsored process for resolving disputes.
- Anyone, including customers and even competitors, can initiate a claim if they believe an HTNG-Certified product does not in fact conform to the requirements.
- As part of certification, the vendor agrees to participate in the HTNG-operated claim resolution process.
- If a product is found not to conform, the vendor must fix the problem within a short time period, normally 60 days.
- If the vendor does not correct the problem within the allotted time, then they lose HTNG Certification and must immediately remove certification claims and trademarks from all marketing materials, product packaging, documentation, and the like. This will typically cost more than correcting the problem.
- While HTNG cannot guarantee that vendors will maintain their Certification in the future, buyers are free to cover such requirements contractually.
As a Buyer, How Can I Tell If a Product is HTNG Compliant?
First: There is no such thing as HTNG compliance, there is only HTNG certification. Any vendor that tells you their product is HTNG compliant but not certified is making a misleading claim. They are also violating the terms of the license to use HTNG's technical specifications, and misusing HTNG's trademark.
If the vendor claims the product is HTNG certified, you can verify their claim on the HTNG Certification Register. Certification is version-specific, so be sure to compare version numbers.
Second: Just because a product is certified does not mean it has implemented the particular technical specifications that matter to you. Check the product's Conformance Statement on the HTNG Certification Register to see which specifications the product has implemented. For information on which technical specifications are relevant to particular products, consult our Specifications & Resources by Product Type page.
Third: Many HTNG technical specifications include both required and optional functionality. Only you know whether you need the optional functionality. If you do, check the product's Conformance Statement to see if the vendor has implemented it.
If you are planning to buy a new technology product, consider the benefits of buying an HTNG Certified product:
- HTNG interfaces help to "future-proof" your investment, reducing integration costs when you replace connected systems in the future.
- HTNG's resolution process can help you easily (and at little or no cost) address problems, in the event that the product turns out to be defective in its implementation of HTNG specifications
- You can consult the Conformance Statement, which is a publicly posted document that elaborates exactly what HTNG functionality the product supports. Unlike vague sales claim, the statements in this document are specific, and the vendor stands behind them.
- Vendors with certified products have demonstrated the highest possible commitment to open systems and interoperability.
- Most HTNG Interfaces are reusable for multiple purposes. Over time, you can reduce the number of interfaces you need to run your hotel.
- HTNG certification can help you plan version control more effectively, to ensure that your interfaces will continue to operate when you upgrade a product.
Why do vendors choose to certify their products? While the reasons differ depending on the particular vendor their products, and their customers, here are some of the reasons we hear most frequently.
- Recognition as an industry leading product that meets the highest standards of interoperability.
- Prospective customers specify HTNG certification as a requirement or preference in an RFP.
- Many smaller vendors tell us that they got instant credibility with larger vendors with whom they needed to interface. Many larger vendors view HTNG certification as evidence that a small company has the experience and skills needed to work with them cost-effectively and without risk to their client relationships.
- In interface negotiations, it is often easier to convince another vendor to use an industry standard, than to write to your proprietary interface. Certification gives you better leverage to say "we have implemented the industry standard, we don't think it makes sense for either of us to invest in developing to a proprietary standard."
- Ability to display the "HTNG Certified" logo on your product marketing and packaging materials.
- Certification is a visible statement of your commitment to interoperability.
- Certification provides exposure of your product through HTNG channels (many smaller or newer vendors find this to be especially valuable)
- Certification differentiates your products, and your company, from non-certified competitors.
- Only certification gives you the ability to claim conformance to HTNG specifications. (Making this claim without certification is a violation of the license to use HTNG specifications!)
- Certification gives you preferred eligibility to be featured in HTNG case studies presented online or at conferences
- For a limited time, certified vendors also receive a US$200 discount for registration at HTNG events. (This is not available through online registration; contact us to take advantage of this offer).
How to Buy Certified
Here are the basic steps to buying an HTNG certified product:
- Find out which HTNG specifications are relevant for the product you want to buy, and whether they are certifiable. Start with our Specifications by Product Category page.
- Decide which technical specifications are important to you. If those specifications have optional functionality, determine whether you want it.
- If you will be connecting the new system to existing systems that support HTNG specifications, ask your vendors which release(s) of each technical specification is (are) supported by your existing systems. Both sides of an interface need to support the same (or compatible) version(s) of the technical specification. You can check compatibility on our Version Equivalence page.
- The Version Equivalence page also helps you research which HTNG certification release cycles include the technical specifications you need. While HTNG has two certification releases per year, many specifications remain unchanged over several release cycles, so older releases may meet your needs. For example, a product certified to HTNG 2011A specifications may be compatible with one certified to HTNG 2009B, provided that the technical specifications you need did not change between those two versions.
- In your RFP, specify that you require or prefer a product that is certified to the HTNG technical specifications you have determined to be relevant. Be sure to list any optional requirements that are important to you, and the earliest HTNG release cycle that is relevant. Check the RFP Checklist page for more ideas on writing your RFP for maximum interoperability!
- Remember that many vendors have implemented HTNG specifications but are waiting for a customer to ask before they submit it for certification. If you want the protection that HTNG certification affords you, then it's up to you to ask for it!
- Don't accept a vendor's claim of HTNG compliance without certification. Even with a contractual guarantee, it means only that the vendor has implemented their interpretation of our requirements.
- Verify a vendor's claim of certification on the HTNG Certification Register. Examine the conformance statement for the product to determine if it implements the technical specification and options you need.
- Make sure that the version of the product you are buying is the one that is certified. If you are buying a future, enhanced version, consider whether to ask the vendor for a commitment to get the product certified after it has been completed.
How to Certify
For complete details on how to cerfity your product to HTNG standards, please see the HTNG Certification Guide. This page provides an overview of the process as it most commonly works. Additional steps may be necessary based on your particular situation.
Prepare for the Process
- While it is possible to certify without a "live" implementation, we highly recommend against this if possible. A live implementation with a trading partner who has already implemented the interface will greatly improve your chances of quick success.
- Determine which Technical Specification(s) you will implement. This will depend on the kind of product you offer. You can find a list of technical specifications that are typically relevant for major product types at Specifications by Product Type.
- Determine which Product Specification is relevant. Since 2010, all HTNG web services software specifications are covered by product specifications named "HTNG Web Services" followed by the year and either an "A" (spring release) or a "B" (fall release). Typically you should choose the latest version that is compatible with your needs. However, if you are interfacing to a vendor who has implemented an older version of an HTNG specification, you may need an earlier version for compatibility.
- You may be able to save money by considering what product(s) you really want to certify. For example, if you sell an interface that works with multiple products (or multiple versions of the same product), then it may make more sense to certify the interface itself, rather than the underlying products packaged with the interface. Each product is a separate certification and requires payment of a separate fee. In some cases, you may need to certify a combination of products (two or more products that meet the HTNG requirements but only when implemented together).
- Read the Product Specification and each relevant Technical Specification.
- Read the Conformance Statement questionnaire that is applicable for the Product Specification you have selected. This is the document you will need to complete to testify to your implementation. It may impose specific requirements, for example submission of testing results; this can help you develop your implementation and testing plan.
- Determine which of the optional functionality (as outlined in the Conformance Statement Questionnaire) you plan to support.
- Read the HTNG Trademark License Agreement. If appropriate, ask your legal counsel to review it.
- Read the HTNG Certification Agreement. If appropriate, ask your legal counsel to review it.
Implement the Relevant HTNG Specifications
- Implement the necessary code to support the requirements of the technical specification(s), including any optional functionality you have chosen to support.
- Perform full testing, generating any testing results that are required to be provided on submission of the Conformance Statement Questionnaire.
- If possible, deploy the functionality in a production environment; this may assist in uncovering implementation errors that may not be evident from your testing procedures.
Submit the Necessary Information
- If you do not already have one, create an account with The Open Group's web system, which will be used to manage your certifications. Please note that this account is separate from any HTNG accounts you may have. Instructions can be found in Section 3.3 of the HTNG Certification Guide.
- Register your organization for certification, accept the terms and conditions, and await notice that you are approved to proceed. Instructions can be found in Section 3.3 of the HTNG Certification Guide.
- Register your product in the web certification system. Instructions can be found in Section 3.4 of the HTNG Certification Guide.
- If this is your first certification, then submit a signed hardcopy of the Trademark License Agreement to The Open Group, and enter the date submitted on the web system.
- Complete and upload the Conformance Statement Questionnaire applicable to the Product Specification to which you are certifying.
- Pay the applicable fee to The Open Group.
- Await further instructions or approval.
Once You Are Certified
- You may now advertise your product as HTNG Certified. Any reference to certification must clearly identify which product(s) and version(s) are certified, and to which HTNG Product Specifications, and may not imply that your company and/or other products are certified.
- You may download your certificate in PDF form from the HTNG Register of Certified Products.
- Your certification is valid for one year. After that, you may renew it at a reduced fee, or you may prefer to certify a later product version, or certify to a later HTNG Product Specification, or both.
- If you update your product and the HTNG-related functionality does not change, then you can amend your certification to the new version via an administrative change for a significantly reduced fee.
- If you update your product and the HTNG-related functionality does change, then you must certify the new version separately. The certification for the older version is independent of the new certification, and it can be renewed or allowed to lapse when it expires.
- If questions are raised about your compliance, you must be prepared to respond. If your product is determined not to conform to the requirements, then you will be required to fix the problem, or you can lose your certification.
- If your certification ceases for any reason, you must immediately remove all use of the HTNG trademarks from your product packaging , advertising, website, and similar materials.
Certified Partners and Products
You can find all HTNG Certified products listed on the HTNG Certification Register.
While HTNG Certification is a useful indicator of a vendor's commitment to implementing open standards, this is just the first step.