Associations Join Forces to Implement Unique Global Identifier
Monday, October 24, 2011
AUSTIN, CHICAGO and WASHINGTON (October 24, 2011) – Several major associations involved in hospitality distribution and technology have joined forces to implement a program of unique global identifiers for hotels. Experts agree that a single identifier for each hotel would significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of transactions between hotels and their trading partners.
Three associations—Hospitality Technology & Financial Professionals (HFTP), Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA), and Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG)—will jointly form a governing body to oversee the effort, and are expected to select one or more third-party companies to operate it under contract. The effort also has the support of the OpenTravel Alliance, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
Hoteliers and technology providers have long complained that the lack of an agreed system of identifiers for hotels, distributors, and other partners makes it difficult and expensive to keep databases up-to-date. The problem has become more severe with the proliferation of thousands of Internet sites with hotel data in recent years. Search engines can easily become confused when hotels change names, or use name variations in different languages or through different distributors. And when a hotel opens, is renamed or rebrands, the lack of a central registration service means that every electronic trading partner must be notified independently, a process that can take weeks or months. In the meantime, revenue-generating transactions can fail, be routed to the wrong hotel, be lost in processing or require costly manual intervention.
The new effort will build on work undertaken by HEDNA in recent years, but will also bring to bear the support and capabilities of diverse communities of supporters from other organizations. It will focus first on identifiers for hotels and lodging establishments. Future iterations may include event venues, distribution channels and processing partners, among others. In addition to numerous applications in distribution, Unique Global Identifiers are a probable requirement for a major hotel industry project on credit-card security being undertaken by HTNG, to support the secure passing of credit card information from the original booking source to the hotel.
HEDNA will contribute the groundwork it has developed, and provide expertise from the distribution perspective. HTNG, as an organization that focuses on getting industry partners to implement technology solutions, will provide support and infrastructure as needed to bring together the various pieces. HFTP, as the industry’s professional association for technology, will take the lead on educating technology professionals on the program and its benefits.
Speaking for the group, HTNG CEO Douglas Rice said “We envision a simple and low- or no-cost registration system, based on principles similar to those used for Internet domains.” Just as an Internet domain owner controls the key information for that domain, such as the location of servers that support it, the Unique Global Identifier program will allow key information about hotels and other entities to be updated once by the hotel owner or their designated agent, and propagated to all relevant parties automatically. Like Internet domain names, which are governed by an independent organization called ICANN, the governing board expects to delegate authority to multiple “registrars” to handle the registration and assignment of unique identifiers to different types of entities.
To reduce or eliminate startup and operating costs, the group has been exploring possibilities to engage with commercial partners. It has identified some who already have extensive hotel data, as well as the ability for hotels to maintain that data in a secure manner, and a business need for higher-quality data. Some of these potential partners have indicated that they believe they could operate a registration service at minimal additional cost, and also a willingness to cover some or all of those costs. The governing board expects to require that all data provided by hotels as part of the program be made available by registrars in real time to anyone with a legitimate business need. Because some of the registrars could potentially be companies who already have significant positions in the industry, this approach would ensure that they gain no unfair advantage – the data they receive would need to be provided by their competitors, and would be equally available to them whether or not they were selected as a registrar.
Depending on the outcome of negotiations, registrars would offer registration to hotels for no cost, or for a nominal cost.
The group is interested in hearing from companies that would like to be registrars. Companies should already have an online system by which entities can maintain basic registration information securely, and a process for transferring and challenging ownership. To register interest, please contact HTNG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals
HFTP, Austin, Texas, USA and Maastricht, The Netherlands, founded in 1952, is the global professional association for financial and technology personnel working in hotels, clubs and other hospitality-related businesses. HFTP provides first class educational opportunities, research, and publications to members around the globe including, the premiere hospitality technology conference HITEC--founded in 1972. HFTP also awards the only hospitality specific certifications for accounting and technology – the Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE) and the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) designations. HFTP was founded in the USA as the National Association of Hotel Accountants.
About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association
The Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA) is a not-for-profit trade association whose worldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in the hotel distribution industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's activities are intended to stimulate the booking of hotel rooms through the use of GDS, the Internet and other electronic means. HEDNA brings all segments of the hotel industry together to evolve systems and services into electronic distribution that is easy and efficient. Visit HEDNA online at http://www.hedna.org
About Hotel Technology Next Generation
The premier technology solutions association in the hospitality industry, Chicago-based HTNG is a self-funded, non-profit trade organization with members from hotel and hospitality companies, technology vendors to hospitality, and other industry members including consultants, media, and academic experts. HTNG’s members participate in focused workgroups to bring to market open solution sets addressing specific business problems. HTNG fosters the selection and adoption of existing open standards. Where necessary, it also develops new open standards to meet the needs of the global hospitality industry. Membership in HTNG is open to hotel and hospitality companies, technology vendors to hospitality, consultants, academics, press and others. Currently more than 400 corporate and individual members from across this spectrum, including most of the world’s leading hotel companies and technology vendors, are active HTNG participants.