Harmonise: A Step Toward an Interoperable E-Tourism Marketplace

Oliver Fodor and Hannes Werthner
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 9, Number 2, Winter 2004-05, pp. 11.

Abstract: Travel and tourism comprise the leading application field in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, representing approximately half of the total worldwide B2C turnover. Even in the 1960s, travel applications (i.e., computerized airline reservation systems) were at the forefront of information technology (IT). Several facts explain this-the product is a confidence good, consumer decisions rely on information available beforehand, and the industry is highly networked, based on worldwide cooperation between stakeholders of different types. The latter factor and the related problem of interoperability represent a major challenge for IT solutions. Harmonise, a European project based on a Semantic Web approach and utilizing a Web services infrastructure, deals with business-to-business (B2B) integration on the “information” layer by means of an ontology-based mediation. It allows tourism organizations with different data standards to exchange information seamlessly without having to change their proprietary data schemas. The “weak” coupling takes into consideration the specific industry context, with its majority of small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and with many different, also legacy, solutions. Real-world business tests show that this approach meets industry expectations and can facilitate the necessary network effect in order to create an interoperable e-tourism marketplace.

Key Words and Phrases: e-tourism, information interoperability, semantic mapping, Semantic Web, Web services.