Hotel Technology Next Generation is planning a new workgroup that will focus on content management for distribution channels.This workgroup - the initial sponsors of which are Cendant Travel Distribution Services, Global Hyatt Corp., Lanyon, Leonardo Media, Pegasus Solutions, OpenTravel(TM) Alliance (OTA), and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. - will bring together interested hotel companies and technology vendors to define and implement a robust and reliable, open-standards-based approach to content management.
The new workgroup will be the first HTNG workgroup to hold its meetings principally in Europe, where languages, distribution channels, and resort destinations combine to make content management a particularly important issue.
‘As distribution channels have evolved from simple text-based systems into multiple forms of rich media, often in multiple languages, the challenge of keeping channels updated with current information has grown exponentially,’ says Douglas C. Rice, Executive Director of HTNG.
He added, ‘This workgroup will build on several of the commercial content management tools already available in the market, and will seek to create an open framework that will allow hotels to manage even the most complex content seamlessly.’
‘The OTA has a wealth of experience building standard message structures that create much needed value between trading partners,’ said John Turato, chair of the OpenTravel(TM) Alliance and vice-president of technology for Cendant Car Rental Group. ‘We are excited about partnering with HTNG again on another important industry initiative. Content management is an area where we can make great progress together.’
The four sponsoring vendors already offer important products to support content management for hotels, and all of them recognize that content management is an industry challenge that they cannot solve alone. By working together, these and other vendors can identify common technologies that they can all endorse and support, which can then be used to drive a more standards-based approach to content management in the external distribution channels.
This workgroup will seek to create ‘solution sets’ that hotels, hotel companies, distribution channels, promotional channels, and intermediary service companies can ‘plug into’ to achieve simple and consistent management and delivery of rich content from the source (hotels and hotel companies) to the destination (distribution channels and promotional channels). ‘Solution sets’ are groups of technology solutions, developed by different vendors, that work well together to solve a larger business problem than any one solution by itself.
Conceptually, the premise of the workgroup is that hotels should have a single point of entry from which they can manage rich content in all connected distribution and promotional channels. Distribution and promotional channels should have a single point of access, from which they can receive rich content from all connected hotels and hotel companies. And intermediary content service companies, who perform services such as image enhancement, mapping, and translation, should have a single point of access, under the authority and control of the hotels, so that they can receive content updates, perform their enhancement services, and forward the results onward to the next stage in the editing, approval, or distribution process.
The new workgroup’s charter states that the resulting approach should support key functionality that will enable hotels to manage the creation and maintenance of rich content, and to ensure its consistency across all supported channels. This includes role-based security to support the hotel company’s business process by ensuring that only authorized people and contractors can edit and approve content, and support for the different workflow processes that are used by hotels to produce and distribute rich content.
The solution will leverage efforts by existing industry players to support this process, including technology vendors, hotel companies, and associations such as the OpenTravel(TM) Alliance (OTA) and the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA). As with HTNG’s Property Distribution Workgroup, this workgroup will seek maximum use of existing standards (such as those published by OTA), where they apply.
“HTNG’s vision for the future is one where hotel systems can seamlessly work together to serve the customer,” said Rice.
He added, “Distribution systems’ content has been a major challenge in recognizing that vision. Hotel companies spend an enormous amount of money developing high-quality content to promote their products, but invariably it never reaches some channels, or quickly becomes stale. There is no systematic way to ensure that distribution channels - and therefore guests - can always have information that is up-to-date.”