This blog post is written by Stu Waldron from TTI's Associate Organisation: Open Travel Alliance.
Community standards make travel retail work. Various organizations like OpenTravel, IATA, HTNG (now part of AHLA), the UIC, and others have provided the language by which travel organizations can work with each other to sell their products. There could be significant improvements in retail capability such as cross channel personalization of trip packages.
This would take closer cooperation of the industry players to enhance standards and produce reference implementations of common API activities that are noncompetitive.
Standards bodies have traditionally been supported by the major players in industry verticals. Such as airlines for IATA, Hotels for HTNG, rail for the UIC. Major online channels have not participated all that much. In fact, very few consumers of the message and API standards participate in the creation and maintenance of standards. This is odd as there is far more labor spend on API consumption than API production. Much of the potential improvements to the standards along with reference implementations would be to the direct benefit of distributors and channels as they could greatly lower the cost to acquire actionable content.
The use of XML and JSON message standards from OpenTravel is overwhelmingly by consumers of travel APIs. In the past 24 months there have been downloads by over 1000 individual users. This calculated by eliminating duplicate and missing email addresses. These by individuals working for hundreds of companies across 18 countries. However, there is no support for what is a community, nonprofit, effort by the consumers of APIs.
OpenTravel is rolling out a donation capability in the model of Wikipedia to provide an opportunity for those that are benefiting from the standards to contribute back to community. Working with partners like TTI to get the word out that standards and much needed reference implementations don’t happen on their own. Donations will be used to fund support for workgroups and the creation of JSON based object models by experienced modelers.
This in turn supports the move of the industry to REST based APIs and away from bloated and stateful XML/SOAP messages. Doing this as a community would speed this transition and lower the cost of travel retail for all. Lower costs for content acquisition means more content in the retail channels. More commonality in API functions like identity management and how offers are constructed means enablement of cross channel personalization. No one player in the travel market can do this. It needs to be a community effort that is fairly funded by the community.