New Tech Cohort, ‘OCTo’, Aims to Establish Universal Connectivity

A new cohort of companies, launching at Arival Berlin 2020, aims to solve the connectivity problem in tours, activities and attractions.

Reading Time: 3 mins

Connectivity—the ability of different technology systems and distribution platforms—or rather the lack of connectivity, has long plagued the in-destination industry.

Many tour and activity operators around the world sell their products via multiple channels, which typically include a combination of direct bookings through their website, offline channels such as in-person travel agents or paper brochures, or through hundreds of digital distributors around the globe. 

But it can be a headache to list products on various platforms and easily update them.

“The problem is that for every online travel agent (OTA) with an API (application programming interface), it means that every reservation platform and/or supply partner needs to make a custom connection,” explains Stephen Joyce, co-founder and CEO of Rezgo.

The new group, Open Connectivity for Tourism (OCTo), officially launching at Arival Berlin 2020 on 1 March 2020, aims to solve the connectivity challenges that hinder the process of listing and selling tours on online platforms. Spearheaded by Expedia Local Expert, founding members also include BeMyGuest, Checkfront, Peekpro, Redeam, Rezgo, Rezdy, Tiqets, Ventrata, Xola, and Zaui Software. 

The call for a cohort was seeded nearly a year ago at Arival Berlin 2019, when industry leaders gathered to discuss persistent API issues at the Arival Connectivity Forum during the conference. OCTo plans to formally present the organization and specification at Arival Berlin 2020 on Tuesday, 3 March, during the Connectivity Forum, which will also include presentations by other connectivity initiatives in the industry.

OCTo describes itself as a “a community of companies in the in-destination activities electronic distribution supply chain who work together to develop and foster the use of electronic messages that allow suppliers and distributors to speak the same language.” 

“Solving the connectivity problem has always been something we have been eager to address,” says Joyce.

When asked by a longstanding partner like Expedia Local Expert, we were delighted to align behind a movement to standardize connectivity,” says Chris Atkin, CEO of Rezdy. “After all, the experiences sector, largely due to its innate complexity, is light-years behind other parts of the travel industry in terms of automation.”

Where Are the OTAs?

There is a glaring lack of major OTAs involved with this initiative. Tripadvisor and Booking.com—and their respective reservation systems Bokun and FareHarbor—are not listed, nor are the privately held GetYourGuide or Klook. 

It is unclear why these OTAs, of which many operators globally rely on for business, are not members, or if they were invited. It’s also unclear whether they plan to participate in OCTo’s mission in the future.

Large OTAs may be reluctant to show their cards in an open forum, because many big players regard their connectivity capabilities as a competitive advantage. 

“ has been active in inviting the other OTAs to participate, but wanted to have something to show first,” says Rezgo’s Joyce. “The goal was to quickly get a working version ‘one’ of the specification in place and start working with a smaller set of companies. This would prove the concept and hopefully drive adoption with the other OTAs.”

In many ways, creating API specifications—which are currently available to download on GitHub—was the easy part. The hard work will begin when companies start to try to implement the standard to fit their unique business models, as each business may have slightly different API requirements their developers have invested ample time and money to create. Plus, the timeline of these adoptions is murky. 

One thing is for certain: any effort to advance technical connectivity in our industry is a step in the right direction. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Trending

already a member?

Lost your password?

NEED TO REGISTER?

Become an Arival Insider
THE ARIVAL INSIDER PRO ACCESS MEMBERSHIP; YOU GET ALL THIS TO HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR BUSINESS.

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Arival.guides
Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021.

Arival.travel articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview
ARIVAL CODE OF CONDUCT​
CONFERENCES AND COMMUNITY SPACES​

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].