OCTO is a Year Old and Growing

July 17, 2023

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly an industry can move once it decides on a common goal. 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 that 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 we expected the industry to respond positively to the formation of OCTO, we weren’t entirely sure 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. We were honestly humbled by the support we received from companies from across the experiences sector.

Over the summer of 2022 we continued to grow our membership by engaging with companies throughout the industry and by providing the beta version of the specification online. We 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. We also created the development cycle that helps keep the teams and committees on track to deliver these capabilities on schedule.

As we continue to grow the organization both from a membership and a resource standpoint, we are confident that we’ll be able to deliver meaningful solutions to some of the industry's most painful problems. Our current teams include pricing, which includes dynamic pricing, and content. We anticipate that as we ramp up these teams, we will continue to add more teams in the next development cycle. From our 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 our founding President (and Arival CEO) Douglas Quinby steps down and Carrie Keplinger, CCO of Virgin Experience Gifts takes over the reins, we are entering a new phase of the organization's growth and evolution. With the recent release of the first version of the official OCTO specification, we are 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 our current members and the many more members we hope to attract in the coming year, we will continue to build the resources necessary to help tours, activities, and attractions connect and deliver results for their customers and businesses.

OCTO Board of Directors

Carrie Keplinger - Virgin Experience Gifts - OCTO President

Tom Chiarella - Gateway Ticketing - OCTO Vice President

Caitlyn Montgomery - 360 Chicago - OCTO Secretary / Treasurer

Oskar Bruening - Peek - Co-Chair Specification Committee

Jason Horkin - Hudson Yards - Co-Chair Member Committee

Oliver Morgan - Ventrata - Co-Chair Specification Committee

Chris Neal - Redeam - Co-Chair Member Committee

Douglas Quinby - Arival - Co-Chair Communications Committee

Christian Watts - Magpie - Co-Chair Communications Committee

Executive Director - Stephen Joyce - Arival

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Operation OCTO Unites Tours and Attractions Sector

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The Potential of Connectivity Standards for Experiences

Every industry that relies on connectivity, whether physical or digital, requires standards. So why did it take so long for the experiences sector to finally come to terms with the need for them? To travel industry insider, the path will look familiar.

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