Forums and Workgroups
From HTNG Connectivity Wiki
Welcome to the Forums and Workgroups index page of HTNG's workgroup wiki. This is where you will find the most current information, contacts, participation details, and links to important documents for the major HTNG forums and workgroups. Participants from these efforts, as well as HTNG staff, have the opportunity to contribute materials here and to edit the content on a regular basis, making this the most up-to-date place for information.
Workgroups exist within a dynamic life cycle spanning an incubation phase, a chartered workgroup phase (where the bulk of the new work is done), a maintenance phase, and retirement. Newly chartered workgroups can be generated from an existing workgroup, or by a group of members independently of any workgroup. When generated from an existing workgroup, it can be in the form of a successor effort (old workgroup continues to exist and takes on a new project), or as a spin-off (old workgroup continues to exist after new one forms). See New HTNG Workgroup Process for more details.
- Infrastructure & Device Forum - This forum addresses infrastructure, device, and hardware issues, including wired and wireless networking, guest-room entertainment, telephony, building automation systems, and other applications where the bulk of the cost relates to physical devices or networking.
- Software Forum - This forum handles software-related issues and addresses applications. The primary focus is on architecture and interoperability rather than features and functionality.
- Above Property Systems - This workgroup is creating a framework of differentiating factors that define an above property solution that the industry should care about. One goal is to identify best practices for implementing systems above property. Another goal is for any two applications to be able to use the framework and determine how to architect interoperability between systems, at both the technical and business levels. The framework will include a checklist of things that become important in an above-property setting, a list of considerations when going above property, and a glossary of terms.
- Entertainment Device Control Workgroup - This workgroup, which previously produced a standard design for guest-device connectivity panels, has addressed the need for a single remote control that works with televisions, hospitality set-top boxes, and other devices. This approach allows the hotel to mix-and-match supporting hardware without requiring custom integration for the remote control, and reduces cabling complexity and cost. To acheive this, the group has mandated portions of, and provided extensions to, HDMI’s Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) standard. The current workgroup effort focuses on extending this functionality to Asia, parts of Europe, and South America.
- Event Notification - This workgroup will modify the existing HTNG Event Notification standard to align with WS-Eventing while keeping the important HTNG extensions. Hotel companies will be better able to integrate with systems that conform to the W3C standard without having to choose between it and the HTNG standard.
- Event RFP Submission Workgroup - This workgroup is addressing the automated delivery of RFPs from meeting planners, through intermediary systems, directly into hotel sales and catering systems. Hotels will then be able to purchase or acquire modules that support the submission of an eRFP for Group and Catering Sales Systems, improving automation, reducing costs, and improving response times to the customer.
- Fiber to the Room Workgroup - This workgroup is creating a series of best practice documents and webinars to describe how to effectively deliver and deploy a fiber network to and within a hotel. The documents/webinars will cover an introduction to fiber and PON technology, as well as design guides for new builds and retrofits.
- Intelligent Guest Room Workgroup - This cross-forum workgroup created remote monitoring capabilities that can proactively alert the hotel to problems with guest room devices. This is in response to the problem that rooms are increasingly electronic but there is very little quality control, meaning that the guest is frequently the one who discovers there is a problem with a guest room device. This effort makes it possible to request the status of guest room devices (ad-hoc query) and register to receive notification messages (status change events) when the health of devices in a guest room change, as well as registering and discovering of devices.
- Mobile Device Identification and Authentication Workgroup - This cross-forum workgroup is creating a set of best practices for registering and authenticating a device once (for example, within a hotel, group of hotels, such as a brand) so that the device and it's user can be recognized automatically. This project employs methods and standards that currently exist or are under development and would allow a user to obtain services, such as access to a hotel network or application. It could also enable a hotel network or application to recognize that a certain device and user have entered the premises.
- Point of Sale Workgroup - This group defined standard interfaces between POS and PMS systems to allow any POS (or other system) to look up guest information from any PMS and post charges to guest folios, even while the PMS is offline or unreachable. PMSs are able to provide line-item check detail from any POS system. End-of-day reporting processes can be synchronized to ensure that accounts balance, even if the date-roll needs to occur at different times in the POS vs. PMS.
- Product Distribution Workgroup - This workgroup simplified the way distribution systems connect to each other for the sharing of rates, availability, inventory, reservations and statistics. In addition to expanding distribution opportunities for hotels, this workgroup’s output has greatly reduced the need for double entry of reservation and rate data by enabling simple, yet robust, connections of PMS, RMS, CRS, and other systems with external distribution channels (GDS, OTAs, brand websites, and other) and intermediaries. The workgroup designed a single method for implementing the highly flexible OpenTravel Alliance messages, which participating companies (and now many others) could support, enabling a near plug-and-play implementation of distribution interfaces across a wide range of distribution partners and models.
HTNG established this council to serve as a critical central point for all software workgroups to review and synchronize their work to minimize duplication of effort and maximize collaboration and reuse. The Governance Council is responsible for defining documentation standards, XML coding standards, the specification review process, and other elements of HTNG’s software efforts that need to be coordinated across software workgroups.
This group develops best practices for the deployment of new and existing infrastructure technologies within hospitality as well as the ongoing evaluation of those technologies. Their ultimate goal is to reduce cost of infrastructure and interfaces, provide greater reliability for interfaces to in-room devices, enable guests to easily connect their own devices and provide infrastructure guidelines to support future hotel applications. The group has produced numerous documents describing best practices for converged infrastructures, wireless deployment, gateway management, and other infrastructure elements. The group conducts webinars for all HTNG members on a broad range of hospitality technology infrastructure topics.
- Cellular Coverage Workgroup - Worked to address cellular phone coverage issues for hotels, by creating a requirements document for an existing architecture (Remote Radio Head) and adapting it for indoor use by multiple Mobile Network Operators for in building LTE coverage.
- Customer Profile Workgroup - This effort standardized the different definitions of customer profile in use today across hotel systems, which makes data exchange difficult, expensive, and time consuming. This effort provides products that can exchange guest and other customer profiles out-of-the-box with minimum customization (including but not limited to CRM, loyalty, reservation, and marketing systems).
- Device Controls Integration Workgroup - This workgroup made it easier for guest-room devices to talk to each other, by standardizing key aspects of inter-device messaging. Hotels benefit with a lower cost to connect in-room guest devices, enabling more and better guest interfaces and tighter environmental controls (read: energy savings) across multiple vendors. Vendors benefit through reduced integration time and cost, and by being able to connect to a greater number of room devices out of the box. Devices in scope include those used for environmental controls, safes, minibars, door locks, lighting, and many others.
- Secure Payments Framework Workgroup - Defined an industry framework for secure processing of payment card information, built on existing tokenization approaches, to enable most hotel systems to move outside the scope of PCI requirements, while providing secure end-to-end processing across ALL of the parties and systems that may be involved in a transaction as it flows through the distribution chain (OTA, GDS, switch, channel manager, CRS, PMS, payment gateway, etc.).
Retired Workgroup Efforts
- Architecture Workgroup - The purpose of this workgroup was to describe an architecture (applications architecture, data architecture, and integration architecture) that supports the HTNG vision, and would provide guidance and direction to software vendors and hospitality companies alike in choosing and designing applications that support the vision. This workgroup's efforts are now driven by the Reference Architecture Workgroup.
- Back Office Integration Workgroup - Simplified how hotel accounting (back-office) systems talk with hotel systems (PMS, POS) so that hotels can more easily post batches to accounting systems. The workgroup created a generic interface between various hotel systems such as PMS, POS, spa, golf, and sales/catering and financial accounting systems and also produced a specification for general ledger transactions. The most current work includes messages to support the transmission of Accounts Payable transactions.
- Business Requirements Team - This team existed as a part of the Property/Distribution Solution Workgroup and was merged back into its parent effort, as there did not appear to be a need for a separate entity to evaluate business needs. This team's efforts are now under the control of the Product Distribution Workgroup.
- Digital Signage - Originally a team within the historic Property Web Services Workgroup, which addressed the interface between catering and event management systems and digital signage systems.
- Distribution Content Management Workgroup - The objective of this workgroup was to facilitate the collection, aggregation, management and distribution of descriptive and illustrative content to create a compelling user experience. The premise was 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. The two teams that operated within DCM and that are now retired are the DCM Business Requirements Team and the Message Definition & Framework Team. The Message Definition & Framework Team was formed to merge the(also now retied) Channels Team and the Framework and Tools Team.
- EMEA Advisory Team - This team, whose intent was to work with existing teams to ensure EMEA hotelier needs can be met and to provide an opportunity for solutions to be built collaboratively by vendors active in the EMEA market, evolved into a "European Leadership and Meetings" chapter of the new Infrastructure & Device Forum.
- Folio Detail Exchange - This workgroup developed a system that hotel companies can participate in, that allows their corporate accounts to automatically and electronically recover VAT. Additionally, the group created an invoice dematerialization solution that amongst other things, facilitates rapid settlement between hoteliers and travel agencies/tour operators. Other solutions include: hospitality loyalty solution and customer analytics that can be deployed across a heterogeneous topography, without the need for custom interfaces, centralized direct group and corporate billing solutions, and centralized loyalty accounting solutions.
- Food & Beverage Ordering - Originally a team within the historic Property Web Services Workgroup, that created message specifications for devices to connect to a property's POS system, and to manage payment methods for an F&B order.
- Guest & Room Status Messaging - This workgroup substantially reduced the complexity of interfaces between PMSs and guest-room systems, such as door locks, televisions, telephones, voice mail, minibars, environmental controls, Internet access, and others. A single set of messages supports all check-in, check-out, and room assignment operations, and also provides access to the reservation and guest profile so that devices and systems can be easily personalized for each guest. By using these messages, hotels can avoid the need for multiple complex interfaces for each combination of PMS and device. This workgroup later made enhancements to allow guest-room devices to confirm back to a PMS that they have been properly provisioned and are in working order.
- Guest Self Service - Originally a team within the historic Property Web Services Workgroup, that addressed interfaces between hotel-based systems such as PMS and POS, with kiosks and other guest self-service devices.
- Hospitality Industry Terminology Team - This team was tasked with creating a terminology website specifically for the hospitality industry and has been merged with the new Reference Architecture Workgroup.
- Hosted Entertainment Content Delivery Solutions (US) Workgroup - The goal of this workgroup was to allow hotel guests to enjoy an interactive entertainment experience comparable to what is available at home, while eliminating or reducing the need for head-end equipment in the hotel. They have identified and addressed the technical challenges faced by different content delivery approaches (e.g. cable, satellite).
- Hosted Payment Capture Systems Workgroup - This workgroup created product solutions for hosted capturing and processing of payment information and application of the payment information back to hotelier systems. A Hosted Payment Capture System provides the means to collect payment information from a customer on a system that is hosted by other than the hotelier, therefore removing the hotelier systems from the scope of PCI.
- Identity Compliance Services - Addressed management of user rights across multiple systems.
- Infrastructure Team - This team existed as a part of the Property/Distribution Solutions Workgroup. The infrastructure used by this workgroup is specified by the Protocol and Message Transport Team of the HTNG Property Web Services Workgroup.
- In-Room Technology Workgroup - This workgroup became the Infrastructure & Device Forum in HTNG's 2010 structural reorganization. Former description: Focusing on the next generation of guestroom technology. The objective is to design and implement an architecture and solutions that will support the transition to guestrooms where all major systems are supported by IP-based networks - including telephony, entertainment, guest Internet access, door locking, minibar, energy management, and administrative systems used by hotel staff in the guestroom.
- Retired/Dormant In-room Technology Teams
- Kiosk Integration Workgroup - This workgroup provided standard interfaces between hotel kiosks and Property Management Systems (PMSs). This allows hotels to match any supporting PMS with any supporting kiosk without the need for custom interfaces. PMS and kiosk vendors benefit from reduced development time and costs. Kiosk/PMS interface vendors gain the widest possible market for their products and hotels have confidence that their product investment is protected if they change either kiosk or PMS vendor. The workgroup published its second specification in October 2010 that added walk-in reservations, upsells, and several other capabilities.
- Message Definition Team - handled the development of message specifications, but now operates as part of the Product Distribution Workgroup.
- Open Data Exchange Workgroup - This workgroup produced a standardized way for different systems to exchange data, enabling greater information sharing amongst a wide range of existing hotel systems. Initial goals were to establish a simple inter-application file transfer mechanism that is platform independent as well as compatible with Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) architectures. One key benefit of this effort is that it allows legacy interfaces to migrate to Enterprise Service Bus while also reducing programming time. The workgroup published its second specification in October 2010 which added support for arbitrary database queries.
- Payment Systems & Data Security Workgroup - The focus of this workgroup was to improve the standardized processing of payment card transactions, while lowering the risk of data theft from hotel systems by reducing or eliminating the storage of sensitive data in hospitality systems. The Data Proxy Specification allows many hotel systems to move “out of scope” of PCI requirements. In addition, its Payment Processing specification handled all basic lodging card transactions, and the specification was enhanced in October 2010 to support other verticals, EMV (Chip and PIN), and prepaid cards.
- Property Web Services Workgroup - This workgroup was charged with developing a set of Web Services designed to promote interoperability and information exchange among systems that service the needs of hotel properties. The workgroup was platform-agnostic, and included active participants using a variety of Microsoft, Java-based, and other tool sets. The Customer Information Exchange Team was retired and the Statistical Dashboard Team efforts are now handled by the Open Data Exchange Workgroup.
- Protocol & Message Transport Workgroup - This workgroup provided the “plumbing” layer of connectivity for all HTNG messages, known as the HTNG Web Services Framework (WSF). The WSF enables two systems to reliably exchange any XML messages (HTNG or proprietary), vastly simplifying the implementation of interfaces. It is compatible with all major technology standards, and allows interface developers to focus on business logic, rather than the often complex task of establishing basic connectivity. Most recently, the workgroup released an Event Notification specification in April 2011.
- Reference Architecture Workgroup - Built upon the well established principles of Enterprise Architecture, this workgroup created an Industry Architecture for hospitality, which includes business, application, and data architectures. Recognized by ComputerWorld magazine as the first such effort of its kind, this architecture is making it easier for hotels to buy and architect systems that are compatible with key design principles such as Service Oriented Architecture, which in turn aids migration of systems out of hotels and into the cloud. The result is that it is also simpler for vendors to provide software products which conform to established business practices. Ultimately, this effort provides increased choice and flexibility in hotel IT purchases and helps IT decision makers in selecting best of breed solutions.
- Single Guest Itinerary Team - Originally a team within the historic Property Web Services Workgroup, which focused on improving the interface that enables interconnectivity and exchange between specialized systems that book guest appointments, such as Spa, Golf, Concierge, Dining, Ski, and other activities.
- Technical Team - The Technical Team of the Distribution Content Management Workgroup that handled message definitions for the first release of a specification, released for the 2009B cycle.
- Voice Communications Solutions Workgroup - This workgroup addressed the lack of standards for hotel IP phone systems to reduce support problems related to interoperability, vendor incompatibility and networking issues. They have created an IP PBX Hospitality Requirements & RFP document as well as a SIP Handset Requirements document.