On Tuesday, I attended the launch of TTIcodes, an initiative being rolled out by Travel Technology Initiative (TTI) to try to solve one of the most frustrating, and in reality, fundamental problems in the hospitality and travel industry – hotel codes.
Without getting too geeky about this, a clear problem exists (and has done since hotel distribution began) – knowing where a hotel is precisely located – and how to keep that data current. If you think about the hotel distribution landscape, we are in a fragmented world bad up of hotel chains, hotel representation companies, wholesalers, bedbanks, online travel agencies, GDS’ and technology providers – all need a key piece of information to distribute and even share their content – the hotel location, referenced to a hotel code/property number. Put another way, it’s the kind of questions we hear every day: “What is a property called on channel ABC?” or “Is this the same property being offered on channelXYZ?”. And remember, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Properties close, chain ownership, chain, representation company all the time.
Simple? Well, actually no. Every company in the business has their own code. Therefore, as soon as you share data between multiple parties, or you take a data feed from another provider, extracting data to match to your own hotel database and being able to present third part data accurately is a logistical nightmare.
Of course, all types of providers work to geo-code their content – but as everyone does it differently, often stores too much information, and the process is almost entirely manual you see where firstly mistakes are made, and how often this information can change and cause you trouble. Imagine sitting trying to map a location for a hotel – not every country has a sophisticated postal system, or has been accurately mapped by Google Maps, making the task near impossible.
So, with the problem explained (to a very high level!) you can understand the need for such an initiative. Put simply, TTI have created TTIcodes with the help of a third-party company called GIATA, who are already geo-coding and creating a master database, to create a unique hotel identifier.
Why has it taken so long? Ask yourself this question, and you get a simple answer. The hospitality industry is vast and fragmented – add to that the fact that everyone is sharing content – and getting all invested partied to agree on a set standard is difficult. Of course, people have tried this before – it’s been on the HEDNA agenda in the past for example. But to be honest, it’s never got quite as far as the TTI initiative.
So what exactly are TTIcodes? TTIcodes are unique hotel identifiers aimed at revolutionising the way travel companies handle accommodation by simplifying de-duplication of accommodation feeds from wholesalers, bedbanks and other accommodation providers. TTIcodes aims to become the widespread standard in this respect for the travel and hospitality industry and be the single most important global identifier for hotels and other accommodations.
Is there a cost? Of course. But before you judge, TTI are not for profit and it’s cheaper to buy this information from TTIcodes that GIATA directly. I’ll let you investigate the pricing on the TTI website yourself. The process is simple – GIATA upload your hotel database and map the properties against their database, adding any new ones and applying a new code to them. You then get a range of access to the entire database.
The key is also involving hotel properties themselves – and I was pleased to hear TTI will encourage hotels participate in TTIcodes has devised a simple low cost pricing structure for both individual properties and hotel chains that wish to participate in the services.
Will it succeed? I don’t know. Although the power behind this, GIATA have a large customer base and have coded some 215,000 properties, its day one for TTIcodes. It’s certainly worth a look if you find yourself struggling in this area, and one to watch carefully.