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HTNG Releases Specs to Enhance CRS

Hospitality technology buyers and providers will benefit from one of the largest sets of new and improved standards ever incorporated into a single release cycle by Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG). Major elements of these just-released specifications result from three of HTNG’s most recently chartered workgroups. The new standards enhance the sharing of customer profile data across hotel systems; they enable improved delivery of guest folio data to systems that need it; and they provide a hosted payment scheme for hotel websites and central reservation systems (CRSs) that can potentially remove those systems from the scope of onerous PCI security standards.
The workgroup volunteers who collaborated on these specifications represented more than 50 hotel companies and technology solutions providers from across the industry. A summary of the specifications follows.
Customer Profile Specification
This specification provides the industry with a common definition of customer profiles that is richer, more hotel-specific, and more structured than previously available. It enables systems to exchange guest and other profiles out-of-the-box and with minimum customization. The specification builds on prior OpenTravel Alliance standards, with modifications developed through cooperation between HTNG and OpenTravel.
Folio Detail Exchange Specification
This new specification will allow hotels to share data from guest folios to a range of hotel and third-party systems that can use the data for other applications. To achieve this, the specification defines a set of messages that will pass presentation and transactional-level data from a PMS (or other folio system) to systems that support analytics, loyalty, invoice dematerialization, VAT reclamation, centralized direct billing, corporate expense reporting and other applications.
Hosted Payment Capture Systems Specification
Hosted payment capture systems provide a means to collect sensitive payment information from a customer on a secure, hosted system, typically hosted by a payment gateway or other third party. This approach can minimize the burden of PCI compliance for booking websites and for other hotel systems (such as central reservation systems). Control is transferred temporarily to the hosted secure site, maintaining the look and feel of the main website or system. Hotel systems using this approach can potentially move outside the scope of PCI requirements, vastly reducing compliance costs.
Product Distribution
Updates to HTNG’s distribution specifications, already mature and extensively used throughout the industry, provide many enhancements, corrections and documentation improvements. Functional additions include the ability for Rate Plans to be flagged as yieldable or not, and quotable in multiple currencies. Ongoing efforts are continuing on the development of standards to support dynamic packaging, which will enable hotels and distributors to more easily provide a wide range of entertainment, transportation, services and other activities as part of the booking process.
This release also includes minor updates to HTNG’s Digital Signage and Guest Self Service specifications. By mid-June, HTNG’s certification program will be ready to support product certification for the new specifications. HTNG-certified products provide buyers with the best possible assurance of adherence to relevant standards.
Coming Soon: Standardized Interfaces between Point of Sale and Property Management Systems
HTNG recently launched an effort to address the often complicated and inconsistent interfaces between Point of Sale (POS) and Property Management Systems (PMSs). The new Point of Sale workgroup plans to complete initial specifications later this year. These specifications will reduce the effort needed to connect any PMS and POS system, while enabling them to cooperate more closely to meet the needs of guests, staff, and hotel owners. Standards will allow a POS system to look up guest information from the PMS and post charges to guest folios, even while the PMS is offline or unreachable. PMSs will be able to access and provide line-item check detail from any POS system. End-of-day reporting processes will be synchronized to ensure that accounts balance, even if the date-roll needs to occur at different times in the two systems.

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