Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) announced the formation of its newest workgroup, which will focus on payment systems and data security for the hospitality industry. Several leading hotel companies, payment system providers, and other companies have already applied to participate, and other interested parties are welcome to join the effort.

"As an industry, we need to establish a more effective way for hotels to handle payment data efficiently and securely," said Barry L. Shuler, President of HTNG. "Additionally, we need to help hotels understand and comply with increasingly complex and stringent payment card security requirements," said Shuler.

The new workgroup will focus not only on credit and bank cards, but on other types of payment cards and devices, including gift cards, loyalty cards, contactless smart cards such as Hong Kong's ubiquitous Octopus card, and non-card devices such as mobile phones.

"Hoteliers and technology providers from across the industry have faced enormous challenges in this area," said Douglas C. Rice, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of HTNG. "We need common answers to some very tricky questions, and once we have those, we need common solutions to the problems so that all hotels and vendors can get the functionality they need, provide protection for their customers' sensitive data, and avoid unnecessary cost and risk."

Rice also noted that the breadth of interest in payment systems crosses more types of technology products and services than perhaps any single previous HTNG effort, with significant opportunities for property management systems, point-of-sale systems, reservation systems, activity booking systems, loyalty programs, gift card vendors, card associations, merchant processors, merchant gateways, compliance auditing services, currency conversion services, banks, acquirers, device manufacturers, online travel agencies, mobile phone services, and others.

The workgroup's deliverables will be prioritized by the members, but are likely to include:

- Definition of best practices, business processes, and technical approaches for use and processing of payment cards in the hotel industry - Educating hoteliers and vendors on best practices and compliance requirements for data security - Developing improved approaches to integration, including the adoption, refinement, or (if required) development of technical standards - Defining and implementing hospitality-specific functionality

Because many hotel companies operate globally, and because the issues vary significantly across world regions and specific countries, the scope of this effort will be global. Depending on the interest of participants, the workgroup may choose to focus on specific geographic areas or regional issues at various points of time, or in the context of regional teams or sub-groups.

The full charter of the workgroup can be viewed on HTNG's website, where HTNG members can also apply to participate. Applications are currently in an open signup period, which will run until at least September 15, 2007. Non-members of HTNG who are interested are welcome to apply for HTNG membership prior to that date to ensure acceptance. Once the workgroup has held its first meeting, additional companies may be admitted by vote of the workgroup members.

Related Link: Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG)