Following the growing demand for effective delivery of travel industry data labels to be exchanged among travel suppliers, consumers and distributors, key travel supplier from the hotel, car and air industries announced the establishment of the Open Travel Alliance - a travel industry organization, designed with the aim of promotion new electronic commerce standards that would improve the travel industry information exchange.
Among companies participating currently in OTA are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Continental Airlines, Trans World Airlines, Midwest Express Airlines, Hilton Hotels, Marriott International, Bass Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Corporation, Alamo Rent A Car, Dollar Rent A Car Systems Inc., Thrifty Car Rental, National Car Rental and Hertz Corporation. The OTA's goal is to extend its membership from air, hotel and car suppliers to the global travel agencies and distribution systems, as well as a variety of other travel services and products developers that would promote exchange of travel industry information.
Communication standards among the industries developed by OTA will facilitate the cost-effective information exchange and create new distribution opportunities. The first step of the Alliance in achieving this aim is creation of the open set of standard definitions of Extensible Markup Language to facilitate communication between users.
The standard XML messaging specification lies in picking up momentum in travel industry, improving connectivity among business partners, lower distribution costs and better travel services and products packaging. However, the main goal of the alliance's XML specifications is to facilitate the travel industry information exchange between travel companies, as the industry strives to improve its customers' ability to book all the trip aspects in a single online transaction.
Such companies as Sabre Holdings, Marriott International, Hertz Rent-A-Car and Cendant have already published their implementations of the alliance's specifications for other travel operators to learn from. Specifications have been adopted by the Newtrade travel commerce unit of Expedia Inc. with the aim of easing communication with its partners. Many travel operators who have adopted the OTA specification are currently making attempts to make their partners adopt it too.
To these belongs the leisure travel-oriented LibGo Travel Inc., which has designed translators for converting incoming messages into XML schema as a temporary stopgap. Meantime, all the member companies of the Open Travel Alliance working with its specifications have cited numerous business benefits, from added speed and flexibility to improved integration of services and facilitation in travel industry information exchange. While the establishment of a certification program have been somewhat delayed, vice chairman of the Alliance Jim Peters expressed the organization's commitment to continue to push its members to display their usage profile on the company's web-site.