SideStep Implements XML - based Connections to Travel Partners

(11/19/2001)
SideStep Forges Direct Connections To Key Partners Via XML Online Travel Service At Forefront Of Travel Technology

SideStep, a leading online travel service, today announced its implementation of XML-based direct connections to key travel partners.
SideStep`s dynamic information connection engine was the first technology to offer a wide selection of “Web-only” fares to consumers, and the company continues to remain at the forefront of travel technology with its early use of XML. On September 10th, SideStep announced a partnership with leading Global Distribution System (GDS) and travel industry technology provider, Amadeus, and SideStep has tapped XML to forge a fast, efficient direct link to Amadeus. SideStep is rapidly developing similar XML-based direct connections to other partners, such as Lodging.com, and has made the effective use of XML a core element of its technical strategy.


“In making XML a key component of our technology framework, our aim is to increase the speed and efficiency with which we exchange information with our travel partners, as well as to present great travel deals to consumers even more quickly,” said Brian Barth, CEO of SideStep. “Our implementation of XML is elegant in its simplicity, making it easy for SideStep to connect to our partners` systems this way - whether or not they have implemented XML communications solutions to-date. SideStep has achieved the elusive direct-connections sought after by competitors, and we hope to help establish an XML framework for the travel industry.”


XML, or Extensible Markup Language, is a universal format for structured documents and data on the Web. Using XML to exchange information on issues such as the availability of a flight or the price of a hotel room makes those communications both concise and fast. By optimizing its communications this way, SideStep is enabling its partners to further trim search costs, maximizing the ROI on the sales that SideStep facilitates for them. Researchers estimate that within the next two years, XML will be used on more than 50 percent of Web sites. XML is the backbone for Microsoft`s highly anticipated .Net strategy, which is focused on the delivery of XML-based Web services to facilitate data sharing and software integration. Through the use of XML communications, SideStep essentially transforms multiple sources of inventory into Web services and aggregates information from those sources for consumers in one place. “Communication via XML is a foundation element of the .Net initiative,” said Peter Christy of NetsEdge Research. “SideStep is demonstrating aggressive leadership in the adoption and exploitation of XML within the travel sector, which in turn is likely to bring competitive advantage to both SideStep and its partners by enabling the construction of innovative, integrated travel services.”


Jim Young, Managing Director, Distribution Planning for Continental Airlines and Board of Directors member of the OpenTravel Alliance, confirmed the benefits that XML brings to the travel industry. “The development of a common ebusiness language is enhancing travel industry players` ability to work together and to serve customers more effectively,” he said. “XML is already yielding substantial returns to the innovators who are implementing XML-based communications solutions.”

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Case Studies: Amadeus and Lodging.com

SideStep currently uses XML to communicate with Amadeus as part of its recent partnership with the industry-leading GDS. SideStep has grown immensely since its November 2000 launch, fast becoming one of the most popular travel resources on the Internet. With a base of more than one million users, SideStep sends substantial traffic to Amadeus, which provides SideStep users with access to fares from a variety of international and domestic carriers. The implementation of a direct XML-based link improved the speed at which results were returned to be included in SideStep by a factor of seven, and the frequency with which incomplete result sets were returned fell by 90%. XML allows SideStep to connect to Amadeus in a highly efficient manner, generating significant sales at minimal cost.


Continuing its focus on creating direct connections with suppliers, SideStep is currently developing XML connections with Lodging.com, a leading supplier of discounted hotel inventory and a key SideStep partner. SideStep searches the Lodging.com site for information on the availability and pricing of bargain hotel options in major U.S. cities. Through its new XML connection to Lodging.com, SideStep will exchange information with the site in a way that is both cost efficient and quick, making Lodging.com options instantly visible to SideStep users.


“Through our work in developing an XML connection to SideStep, Lodging.com continues to illustrate its commitment to making strategic use of valuable emerging technologies,” said Edward Silver, Vice President of Technology and Operations for Lodging.com. “SideStep`s XML solution connects systems swiftly and seamlessly, which reduces our cost of sales and provides consumers with fast, accurate information on inventory and pricing.” SideStep features real-time information from more than 585 airlines, 40,000 hotels, and 2,800 rental car locations worldwide - including the largest selection of “Web-only” fares available online. SideStep`s unique technology also allows users to search and perform side-by-side comparisons on different Web sites to find the best fares available on the Internet. After selecting their preferred flight, hotel room or rental car, SideStep users are transferred to suppliers` Web sites to book their reservations.


About SideStep

Based in Santa Clara, CA, SideStep is an Internet infrastructure company that has developed technology that connects disparate, dynamic information sources in real time. The company`s initial market is the Internet`s largest commerce sector - online travel. SideStep enables travel companies to substantially reduce distribution costs and provides consumers with a rich selection of flights, hotel rooms and rental cars - including “Web-only” fares - all in one place. The company features partnerships with industry leaders such as Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL - news), British Airways (NYSE: BAB - news), Thrifty Car Rental (NYSE: DTG - news), Prime Hospitality (NYSE: PDQ - news), and Accor Economy Lodging. SideStep is a privately held company.


For more information, visit
www.sidestep.com

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