In the world of hospitality distribution, we often refer to the “content conundrum:” the challenge of taking images, property and room information and everything else consumers want to know about a hotel’s services, rules and amenities and displaying them quickly – and accurately – during the booking process.

But for all of the hotel and travel information now available at the click of a mouse or a tap of the finger, most people would be shocked at just how difficult a proposition that is.

Across the world, many travel companies are still sharing information with online travel agencies, or OTAs, via spreadsheets or by legacy content updates that contain truncated, capitalized and highly abbreviated information. The idea of adding richer content about everything − from pet polices to restaurant hours and thread counts on sheets − becomes even more complicated by the fact that such information may be held across a variety of legacy hotel computer systems.

It becomes more difficult when you add in the underlying tension between hotels and OTAs over commissions, branding issues and guest loyalty as well as the challenge of creating new technologies that enable everyone’s computers to talk to each other.

That’s why HEDNA − short for Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association − last year created a new content working group. Our goal: solve the content conundrum. As vice president of the HEDNA board and member of the content working group, I am pleased to report that progress is being made. This requires companies to set aside competitive concerns and tensions to develop common standards that benefit the industry as a whole.

This isn’t a fast process, but − to move it forward more quickly − we have created two subgroups to look at this: one from the perspectives of the guest and the hotel company providing the experience and the other from the perspective of the technology solutions provider.

After our annual meeting earlier this year, I am encouraged. The industry truly recognizes that we no longer can delay efforts to solve this puzzle.

And we can’t simply solve these issues in English. In addition to richer content, there is a demand by all players to address translation issues. Companies must be able to take their inventories global, across multiple languages and in mobile as well as traditional formats.

Consumers are demanding more and more real-time information in the booking process. Therefore, the only way for companies to compete is to be able to deliver this information accurately, across a variety of platforms and in a variety of languages.

Here at DHISCO, we are committed to helping the industry find solutions, both through HEDNA and directly with our many global partners. After all, solving the content conundrum lies at the very heart of our mission, to connect the world.

– Anne Cole, vice president, content