Updated: Jul 12
OCTO is a year old and growing. Where are we at with connectivity standards in the experiences industry, and where are we going?
USA - May 25th, 2023 - One year ago, a group of individuals from different parts of the experiences industry came together to form OCTO, the digital connectivity standards organization for tours, activities, and attractions. The goal was to establish and formally release the first specification of its kind for the industry.
The initial version of the specification would be focused on the most common connectivity use case for the industry, specifically booking, and would provide a framework for organizations to use in order to build out their own API connections if they didn’t already have them, or add a new API connection that would add greater value and be able to connect to more trading partners. In essence, if all trading partners developed OCTO compliant APIs, they would eliminate the need to develop unique connections to each trading partner, saving hundreds or even thousands of hours of developer time. This is the same model that already exists in the airline and hotel space. But like all wide ranging initiatives, these things take time.
Much of the first eight months of the first year were spent getting the infrastructure of the organization set up and getting the first round of memberships secured. Although the initial group funded the legal and technical costs, in order to be sustainable the organization would need to have members paying dues. So the call went out and the industry stepped up.
Although the expection was that the industry would respond positively to the formation of OCTO, there was some doubt as to whether companies would make the financial commitment to support a fledgling organization. It takes a certain amount of trust and belief that the organization will be successful to commit to backing it both financially and reputationally. OCTO has been humbled by the support it has received from companies from across the experiences sector.
Over the summer of 2022 OCTO continued to grow their membership by engaging with companies throughout the industry and by providing the beta version of the specification online. The organization spent time developing the committee and team structures that would be used to organize people around the core specification and new features or capabilities, as they are called. it also created the development cycle that helps keep the teams and committees on track to deliver these capabilities on schedule.
As OCTO continues to grow the organization both from a membership and a resource standpoint, it is confident that it will be able to deliver meaningful solutions to some of the industry's most painful problems. Current teams include pricing, which includes dynamic pricing, and content. OCTO anticipates that as it ramps up these teams, it will continue to add more teams in the next development cycle. From conversations with both members and the general industry at large, there is no shortage of connectivity problems to solve and opportunities to seize.
One year on, as founding President (and Arival CEO) Douglas Quinby steps down and Carrie Keplinger, CCO of Virgin Experience Gifts takes over the reins, OCTO is entering a new phase of the organization's growth and evolution. With the recent release of the first version of the official OCTO specification, it is more focused than ever on providing tools and support for members and industry who are interested in or already implementing the specification in their organizations.
With the continued support of all current members and the many more members OCTO hopes to attract in the coming year, it will continue to build the resources necessary to help tours, activities, and attractions connect and deliver results for their customers and businesses.
About The Author
Karl Sigurdsson - Senior Contributor
Karl is a senior contributor at TravelIndustryReporter.com and knows the European travel industry inside out. Karl is a freelance travel writer specialising in the European market. Karl studied at both Stockholm University and Reading University.