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Proponent of Global Distribution Standards for
the International Leisure Travel Industry,
TOWARD, Opens London Office

-
19 Feb 2002 - TOWARD, the leading proponent of global distribution standards for the travel industry, today announced its expansion into Europe with the opening of a new London-based office.
 
Formed in November 2000 by leading figures in the US travel industry, TOWARD's (Tour Operators and Wholesalers Achieving Real-Time Distribution) mission is to create global distribution standards for the international leisure travel industry by bringing together key players in the world of travel and technology. The association's membership includes some of the industry's major hotel groups, including Carlson Hospitality, Cendant Corporation, Six Continents and Hyatt, together with other blue-chip travel players including Hertz, GOGO Worldwide Vacations, Amadeus, Avis Rent A Car, Far & Wide Travel and Apple Vacations.

According to TOWARD, the opening of a European office will enable it to promote the adoption of technology standards across the worldwide industry by working alongside leading advocates of universal specifications in Europe such as the UK's Travel Technology Initiative (TTI), which recently launched its own XML standard for web-based agency package holiday bookings.

Heading the new office is TOWARD's European membership director Andy Cook, formerly managing director (Americas) of MIC, a pioneer of the leisure accommodation industry's first global distribution system. Said Cook: "Travel is a global industry, it needs a global distribution approach.

Although we welcome the international industry's growing acceptance of technology standards, there is a danger individual regions will simply develop their own solutions and that no international standards will emerge. By expanding into Europe we will be better placed to cooperate with the European sector and influence its move to standardisation resulting in a truly global approach."

To encourage debate and cross-fertilisation of ideas, TOWARD organises two conferences a year at which high-profile speakers address key issues facing the migration to global standards. Members of the association gain free entry to these events, both of which are currently held in the USA.

TOWARD this week also announced that its Spring conference 2002 'Connecting to the customer' will be held in Las Vegas 

Mission

TOWARD is a working organization comprised of tour operators / wholesalers / package vacation providers, suppliers, distribution and technology partners whose mission is to enable the tour industry to conduct more efficient and cost-effective business via electronic distribution channels. This will be done by: 

  • Optimizing the use of current technology 
  • Influencing development of current and emerging electronic distribution channels 
  • Educating members and the industry 
  • Providing an opportunity for open exchange among members 
This type of industry association has served other segments well. As we are on the cusp of major technology hurdles, it appears to be the opportune time to make our collective wishes known and to take a non-partisan approach that will ultimately result in economy and efficiency for tour operators, agents, consumers and every other entity in the distribution process. 

Objectives

This organization is focused on improving and advancing distribution technology in the tour industry. Specifically, this entails: 

  • Influencing the direction of standards and a common platform where possible 
  • Reducing operational costs while maintaining quality (positive customer experience)
  • Simplifying processes 
  •  Improving communication between each link in the supply chain 
  • Synchronizing real-time inventory and availability between wholesalers and their suppliers 
  • Growing the share of electronic distribution for the tour industry 
  • Providing added value to the customer through increased flexibility, more product options, and faster response time
(7-8 May, Golden Nugget Hotel) and will give members an opportunity to discuss the issues facing the industry as it embraces automated distribution solutions. 

In addition to attending conferences, the association's members are encouraged to join its four committees, whose roles include promoting greater understanding of technology for example by producing standardised specification sheets for commercial products; improving technology education, and analysing the transaction chains throughout the industry.

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Contact:
TOWARD
Andy Cook on +44 (0)20 7691 3939
[email protected]
www.towardassoc.org

Also See Understanding and Maximizing a Hotelís Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000 
Global Distribution Systems Report 11.4% Increase in Hotel Bookings for the Year 2000; Net hotel reservations delivered by GDSs totaled 48,787,000 / March 2001 


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