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Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) Making
Significant Progress Towards its Objectives of
Improving Systems Interoperability
in the Hospitality Industry

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  • Launches Certification Program
  • Publishes Two White Papers Defining the Guest Room of the Future
  • Engages 20+ Leading Tech Vendors in Open Interoperability Demos
LOS ANGELES (June 21, 2005) -- Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), which was founded three years ago at HITEC 2002 in Chicago, celebrated its third anniversary this week, announcing significant progress towards its objectives of improving systems interoperability in the hospitality industry.
  • Today, HTNG launches the first-ever branding and certification program for hotel technology, with the completion of its Certification Policy.  Developed by HTNG in association with The Open Group, this policy, together with the Certification Agreement and Trademark License Agreement, will enable technology vendors to certify their products to specifications approved by HTNG workgroups.
  • Last week, HTNG’s In-Room Technology Workgroup published two ground-breaking White Papers, representing hundreds of hours of effort by some of the best technology management, engineering, and marketing research talent in the industry.  One White Paper defines the changing needs of guests, and what hotels can do to meet their technology needs more effectively.  The other proposes a set of reference infrastructures for hotel network deployments, designed to help hotels achieve the cost, performance, and integration benefits that other industries have achieved by migrating to converged IP-based networks.
  • Twenty-plus technology vendors have worked together in various combinations to produce live interoperability demonstrations based on open specifications at HITEC 2005.  These include the first-ever implementation by competing companies of a single, common version of the OpenTravel Alliance™ (OTA) specification; a unified guest messaging environment for voice messages, faxes, and text messages that is coordinated across PMS, telephone system, and television; remote monitoring and instrumentation of multiple systems from a common console; integration of building and room controls with guest devices; and an automated version of the “doorknob breakfast card” that integrates an IP phone with the Point-of-Sale and Property Management Systems.  These and many other examples are on display at the HTNG booth #1152 at the HITEC show in Los Angeles.
HTNG recorded numerous other achievements over the past year, including:
  • The launch of two new workgroups focusing on Distribution and In-Room Technology
  • Growth from 35 members a year ago to 210 today, including 66 major technology vendors exhibiting at HITEC 2005, and nearly as many hotel companies
  • Successful recruitment of new hotel CIOs and CTOs to the Board of Directors, which now includes representation of all primary market segments, with almost half the directors from outside the United States
  • Creation of a Special Interest Group that will focus on systems integration in the Gaming sector of the hospitality industry
  • Establishment of working relationships with other industry standards and specifications bodies, including OpenTravel Alliance (OTA), the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX), the Open Building Information Exchange (oBIX), and the Gaming Standards Association (GSA).
Branding and Certification Program

The HTNG Branding and Certification Program is formally launched at HITEC 2005 with the publication of the HTNG Certification Policy.  Four months in the making, this document was the result of a collaborative effort between an HTNG Board Committee and The Open Group (www.opengroup.org).  The Open Group is one of the world’s leading practitioners of certification programs, and serves as the certification authority for the Common Operating Environment (COE) Platform, CORBA®, LDAP, Linux Standard Base (LSB™), POSIX®, UNIX®, the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and numerous other specifications and standards bodies.

“Certification and branding provides important benefits to both buyers and sellers of technology,” said Douglas Rice, Executive Director of HTNG.  “The ‘HTNG Certified’ label will provide assurance to buyers that a particular technology product will deliver a minimum level of interoperability with other products.”  Through the certification process, technology vendors can apply to use that trademark for their products.  They must show that the products meet the specifications at the outset, and agree to quickly rectify any deficiencies that appear later on. 

Technology vendors who implement open HTNG specifications benefit from being able to advertise their compliance.  Buyers who are HTNG members will benefit from access to the certified product register, which identifies precisely which products, versions, and configurations meet a product specification, and which optional features of that specification they implement.

“Unlike self-policed compliance claims, the ‘HTNG Certified’ label will be protected by trademark law,” says Rice.  “This means that vendors who complete the effort to become certified can be confident that their legitimate claims of compliance will not be lost among false claims by companies that have not met the same requirements.”

The next step in the process will be for HTNG workgroups to identify the specifications that they believe would benefit from certification.  The program is designed to be able to accommodate any workgroup specifications, but there is no requirement that every specification be submitted to the certification process.  The participants in each workgroup can determine which specifications would benefit from certification.  It is anticipated that workgroups will begin submitting specifications to become part of the certification program over the next few months.

The costs of certification will vary depending on the specifications involved, and the means of verifying compliance with each one.  Initially, HTNG anticipates that compliance with most specifications will be based on self-certification by the vendor.  Under this approach, providers will need to complete a certification checklist and provide evidence (such as testing results) that their product is compliant.  “We believe that this approach is the right starting point, as it minimizes the costs of administering the certification program, and will help keep certification fees low” said Rice.  “Our industry depends on many small technology companies, and we think it is critical that the cost of certification not impose a financial burden on the industry innovators.  If third-party testing programs prove necessary for some specifications, we can always implement them later, on a selective basis.” 

In-Room Technology Workgroup White Papers

The HTNG In-Room Technology Workgroup released the first two of a series of groundbreaking White Papers, representing hundreds of hours of contributions from some of the best hotel, engineering, and marketing minds in the business. 

The first White Paper, “Convergence:  Hotel Technology for Today and Tomorrow,” addresses the issue of network infrastructure in hotels.  For years, hotels have been built with separate networks to support different applications, including in-room entertainment systems, telephony, high-speed Internet, building control systems, and administrative systems.  The hotel CIO/CTO community has known for years that the redundancy in cabling is costly, and that the historical approach made it difficult to get these different systems to work cooperatively.  This White Paper makes the business case for migrating hotels to a single converged network; identifies the alternative infrastructures that should be the targets; and considers the key applications that need to coexist – entertainment, Internet access, telephony, and room controls. 

“If you want to future-proof your technology investments, this is the one document you can't afford not to read,” said Nick Price, Chief Technology Officer of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and President of HTNG.

The Infrastructure White Paper reflects design work from top engineers at leading technology companies in all major guest-room application areas, as well as critical input from participating hospitality companies, including Ginn Clubs & Resorts, The Kor Group, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, The Peninsula Group, and Royal Caribbean.  The paper was developed by a team chaired by Angela Landon of Cisco Systems; was edited by Donald C. Wynes, PMP, of Lorica Solutions; and included significant contributions from engineers and executives at Cisco Systems, Datanamics, Ginn Clubs & Resorts, Heckaman Group, LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation, Lorica Solutions, Mitel, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Paradyne, Royal Caribbean, and SolutionInc Limited.

The second White Paper, “The Guest of the Future:  In-Room Technology Preferences Today and Tomorrow” represents an amazing view into the needs of tomorrow’s guests, and what it will take to satisfy them.  Hotel rooms being built today will, over the course of their lifetime, be occupied mostly by people who are still under 30, or even 20.  Their expectations will not be the same as today’s travelers, and if the hospitality industry is to succeed at meeting those expectations, it needs to understand how the expectations of younger generations differ from those of older ones – and how they are likely to continue to evolve over time.

This White Paper was authored by the Center for Marketing Effectiveness (CeME), with significant input from executives at Guest-Tek, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, Mitel, The Peninsula Group, and SolutionInc Limited.

A third White Paper, which covers the need for and design for an “all in one” guestroom device to control all technologies, is still under development and will be published for HTNG member comment in the near future.  This device, modeled after the traditional cable-TV “Set-Top Box,” does not yet exist in the marketplace.  Once the design is complete, the workgroup will seek to engage manufacturers to create this “smart” terminating point for the IP network within the room, which will allow coordinated, guest-centric control of all in-room technologies and devices.

The full White Papers are available online to HTNG members at no charge.  They will be released to the general public when the In-Room Technology Workgroup completes its mission and ceases to exist in approximately 12 months.
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About Hotel Technology Next Generation

The premier technology solutions association in the hospitality industry, HTNG is a self-funded, non-profit organization with members from hotel and hospitality companies, technology vendors to hospitality, and other industry members including consultants, media, and academic experts.  HTNG's members participate in focused workgroups to bring open solution-sets addressing specific business problems to the hospitality market. 

Membership in HTNG is open to hotel and hospitality companies, technology vendors to hospitality, consultants, academics, press and others.   Currently more than 200 companies and individuals from across this spectrum are active HTNG members.  Workgroup proceedings, drafts, and specifications are published for all HTNG members as soon as they are created, encouraging rapid and broad adoption. 

Contact:

Hotel Technology Next Generation
Douglas Rice
Executive Director
douglas.rice@htng.org
+1 847 348 1148
www.htng.org

Also See: HTNG Draws 160+ Attendees to First Annual Conference; Luke Mellors, Director of IT (CIO) at The Dorchester Group, Elected as HTNG Director / May 2005
Gaming Industry Chief Information Officers Form Special Interest Group Within the HTNG Organization; Will Address Interopoerability Issues Unique to Casino Hotels / May 2005


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