“I am wondering if others have experienced what I am seeing,” writes a TripAdvisor user. “ When I put in the hotel name in Google map, I see one location. However, when I put in the street address, I see a different location, generally not as favorable! Locations on Booking.com and Ctrip are also similarly inconsistent with street address. This is not so for every hotel, but I am not sure if some hotels aren’t somehow gaming the system. “
No, hotels and OTAs are not fooling anybody, at least not on purpose. This common problem of inconsistent listings is one that many providers are actually trying to handle. Because the hospitality distribution market is so large and complex, quite often, data isn’t displayed the same everywhere. The technology that helps solve this issue is called hotel, distribution, or content mapping.
What is hotel mapping?
Hotel mapping is a process of merging property IDs from different sources into one in order to avoid inconsistent naming and duplication in listings. Duplication and inconsistent listing happens when an OTA sources information from two or more channels, like bedbanks, channel managers, GDSs, and larger OTAs.
Here’s a prime example. Let’s say you receive the inventory lists from Sabre, a few wholesalers, and Expedia. All of them list what seems to be the same room differently. Some call it “Deluxe Double,” others use terms like “Luxury” and “Exclusive.” So, which one is right? You can’t fix all such inconsistencies manually, so you end up with tons of duplicate hotels and rooms, and then receive angry feedback from confused travelers. Besides, sometimes you lose images or content along the way. For hotels, the situation is just as dire — they don’t have control of how their own rooms are displayed.
But, hotel mapping software helps you regain that control and unify the content.
How to integrate hotel content mapping?
Most of the providers you’ll see offer either one or both of the two available types of solutions.
Mapping as a service. This is an online tool that uses simple UI. You upload a hotel inventory file and choose which distributors you want to map with. Mapping usually happens automatically, rarely with human intervention. After the mapping is complete, the data is sent back to you. If you’re a distributor, you can invite your partners to upload inventory that will be mapped for you.
APIs. There’s a more integrated way to do this that offers a significant advantage. If your technical possibilities allow, you can connect your inventory via a connectivity interface called an API, which means that the mapping service can consistently update information without having to send new files over and over again. This is particularly useful for dynamic content like pricing, amenities, or policies. Of course, this option implies that you have some IT forces to do the integration. If a content mapping solution is a part of a booking engine or any other solution, it usually updates dynamic content automatically.
Our main goal with this article is to show you how different providers work, compare them, and explain their integration methods. Keep reading for the help you need to make the right choice.
Hotel mapping providers
The market of hospitality solutions is not abundant in hotel mapping services. It’s dominated by several large players. Most mapping tools exist as a part of larger solutions, like back office systems and booking engines. Today all of the mapping solutions are AI-powered to some extent — very few use manual data processing or don’t use it at all. However, their functionality differs, and compared to larger providers, smaller solutions have more personalized features. The solution providers can even interpret the mapping process differently: Some give access to their property databases and allow for exporting the files with IDs to be matched later, while the other solutions automatically map existing OTA’s inventory with inventories coming from different suppliers (GDSs, bed banks, etc.)
GIATA: The largest hotel database with automated and manual mapping
GIATA is a German provider in existence since 1996. GIATA is market leader in hotel mapping and currently has a large hotel catalog, which contains 1,024,000 properties. Although GIATA has a huge hotel database, all properties that weren’t processed by GIATA before can’t be mapped. In 2018, Google became GIATA’s client.
GIATA provides mapping service for hotels and online travel agencies, creating a universal property code — GIATA MultiCode. GIATA IDs are industry standard, and since 2017, hotels can use the same MultiCode in case the property or business is sold to another owner.
Mapping by GIATA is partly automated. The solution uses AI technologies that involve fuzzy logic, a grading-based machine learning approach. However, this solution is not fully automated, and they process over 23 percent of data manually. As processed, a property gets a default GIATA MultiCode, the property’s unique ID, which is matched to OTA’s property codes with the assistance of a technology professional.
GIATA hotel ID provides the following information about a property via REST API:
- Location (address, coordinates)
- Contact information (email, phone, fax)
- Hotel website URL
- Booking code
- GDS/CRS code
- Chain affiliation
- Near airports
- Link to content in another language
To map more types of data, you must use separate GIATA solutions and APIs. Let’s take a look at them.
Room Type Mapping. GIATA has a separate solution for dynamic room mapping. It sorts and filters rooms by their types and names, as well as the price, arranging it from the lowest to the highest.
Content integration. GIATA has an additional Internet Hotel Guide solution that standardizes hotel descriptions in multiple languages, integrates photo and video, and provides holiday offers.
Multilingual Hotel Guide. GIATA has a separate online solution for processing hotel descriptions in 24 languages via XML API.
Mapping.Works by Gimmonix: Mapped inventory in under 24 hours
Gimmonix is a travel technology company that provides fully automated cloud-based solutions that largely focus on the accuracy of data. As Gimmonix claims, the data they map is 99 percent accurate and it takes only 24 hours to process. Currently they have 1.9 million properties in their database. Gimmonix uses no manual labor for data mapping. Mapping.Works offers hotel and room level mapping.
Hotel mapping is a solution for suppliers and OTAs. The solution is available as an API integration or as a GUI with a drag-and-drop interface where you can upload a file with hotel data to be processed automatically via FTP protocol. Also, the solution has an analytic module for properties that provides insights into bestselling inventories.
Room mapping is implemented via an API, along with a premium API service for checking hotel room content with special or unusual names. The mapped property contains 8 attributes, but the number can be extended for an additional price. The room mapping API of Mapping. Works unifies data on:
- Room types name
DataBindR: The most detailed room level mapping with spell check
DataBindR is a cloud mapping provider that uses machine learning and natural language processing. They offer two solutions for hotel data mapping: HotelMappR and RoomBindR.
HotelMappR is the first step to integrating a hotel catalog to the DataBindR database and getting mapped content. A user must upload its own hotel catalog as CSV/EXCEL file and get a file with mapped information, ready for integration. Hotel catalogue content is later processed via HotelBindR REST API. This API processes key information about the hotel, creating its portfolio in several languages if needed. This information includes:
- Country ID
- Hotel name
- Hotel address
- Hotel category
- Hotel ZIP code
- Longitude and latitude
The system processes the data using machine learning, their own mathematical algorithm, and Deep Learning. And based on this information, it assigns a hotel BindID. Room and hotel information is processed via different APIs.
RoomMappR maps the following hotel room information and assigns it a unique BindID code:
- Room ID
- Policy (conditions)
- Detailed room description
- Room type
- Capacity and size
- Gender (for mixed rooms)
- Environment (shared/communicated bathroom)
- Room category (deluxe, premium, standard)
- Views (city, sea, pool)
- Preferences (smoking, pets, etc)
- Beds, bunks, extra beds
Later, their system matches rooms to the hotel portfolio. DataBindR claims to correct syntactic errors via special algorithms, targeted to hospitality businesses. They don’t use manual processing.
The clients can reuse these codes later, even when they stop using the solution. The systems checks and cleans the data itself.
clarifi by Travisca: Single API for hotel and room mapping
clarifi is a mapping solution by Indian travel technology provider Travisca. It provides hotel IDs, using a single API for all types of hotel content provided by different suppliers. They work with 37 hotel data suppliers and process hotel data in 12 languages. They update hotel information in real time, using content sync-bots. clarifi uses machine learning algorithms and no manual labor, which, as they say, leads to 99.5 percent of correct data mapped.
clarifi maps the following hotel data:
- Geolocation with geocode validation
- Photos and logos in HD
- Hotel names
- Hotel description
The service also enables content standardization and hotel content customization. clarifi eliminates problems and responds to feedback on invalid hotel content description in real-time. Another special feature is the built-in ability to run marketing campaigns for particular properties by adding promotional content to them.
Juniper Unique Hotel: An integrated booking engine solution with mapping opportunities
Juniper is a travel solutions provider from Spain that offers services for OTAs, hotels, DMCs, and wholesalers alike. Its mapping solution is actually a module of its booking engine solution, Juniper Unique Hotel. This module standardizes the list of hotel and rooms and allows to arrange it by price or supplier. The booking engine connects to the source database via XML and maps the content. Juniper Booking Engine is connected to over 300 suppliers.
Juniper Unique Hotel maps visual content, hotel, and room information by the following categories:
- Bed type
- Board type
- Mealplan mapping
The offers are automatically sorted from the cheapest to the most expensive, adding automated search for the prices in the database.
Trawex Hotel Mapping Solution: Full database maintenance
Online booking software provider Trawex has B2B and B2C solutions for hotel mapping. They connect not only to hotels and GDSs but also to vehicle rental services.
Trawex Hotel Mapping software performs accommodation and destination mapping. The hotel mapping module handles all necessary hotel details:
- Logos and photos
- Hotel category
Trawex also has a destination mapping feature that standardizes location mapping and assigns a separate ID for city, country, and region. Their mapping solution takes into account different spellings for some locations. One of the advantages of the Trawex solution is that they provide full maintenance of the database update.
dcs plus: Separate IDs for hotels and destinations
dcs plus is a Romanian travel and tourism technology solutions provider, which offers hotel content mapping services. dcs content mapping service is integrated with their Travel Booking System IRIX and provides automatic data export for their users. Non-IRIX clients can export a mapping archive in an XML file. The service assigns separate IDs to hotels and destinations. Content mapping by dcs covers following hotel categories:
- IATA codes
- Countries, regions, and states
- Star rating
Also, dcs plus has a destination mapping feature. The mapped content can be sorted by price, rating, or other criteria. The service works on machine learning algorithms and involves additional manual data checks afterwards.
Hotel mapping: Where to start?
- Check whether your suppliers categorize hotel data differently. If this problem exists, decide which challenge you want to solve. If you’re looking forward to enhancing an existing booking engine, consider tools with larger databases, like GIATA and Gimmonix. In case you’ve just started choosing an integrated system, consider providers offering a booking engine with a mapping feature.
- Consider necessary features. The hotel mapping market is patchy and unsystematic, and you’ll face the problem of choice in the first place. These solutions may seem rather similar at first glance, and indeed, all of them use almost the same approaches in hotel mapping. What differs is the number of features and the way they display data. Also, look at the tools that provide multilingual mapping if you need hotel profiles in multiple languages.
- Find out whether you need API integration. Although most of the solutions have a drag-and-drop feature, an API would be better for dynamic data. Contact your provider to learn if they assist with integration of their service. If they don’t offer such assistance and you don’t have the technical capacity to integrate API yourself, find a travel tech service company to help you with that.
Originally published at AltexSoft tech blog “Hotel Mapping Tools: How GIATA, Gimmonix, DataBindR, and Other Solutions Work”