In his viewpoint Markus reports that in October 2012, Tnooz was among the first to draw attention to the potential damage that might occur, if an OTA such as Booking.com becomes the host of the new .hotel(s) domain extension:
As earlier this week was the deadline for any formal objections to applicants for ICANN’s new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) at the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), let me provide you with an update of the proceedings – and of course comments from the point of view of a national hotel association.
There are applications for four strings for new gTLDs related closely to the hotel industry:
- .hoteles (Spanish for hotels)
- .hoteis (Portuguese for hotels).
Seven applicants are bidding for .hotel and one applicant each for .hotels (Booking.com), .hoteles (Despegar) and .hoteis (Despegar).
The applicants for the three latter ones are all online travel agencies, namely Booking.com and Montevideo-based Despegar, which is also among the seven applicants for .hotel.
Among total of ten applications for .hotel, .hotels, .hoteles and .hoteis, there is only one who has the support of the global hotel community: Luxembourg-based HOTEL Top-Level-Domain.
This application is being supported among many others for instance by the International & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), China Hotel Association (CHA) and HOTREC – Hotels, Restaurants & Cafés in Europe.
The hotel associations worldwide are in close contact with this applicant and arrange the terms and conditions of the future .hotel domain on a level playing field the best way possible.
Consequently, this applicant is the only one who filed a community-based application.
As of today the other six applicants for .hotel have not even contacted hotel industry representatives. They either have a closed (1) business model or an open (5) one.
Despegar intends to run the .hotel domain – as Booking.com would like to with .hotels – in a closed way at its own discretion, which would open the doors for discrimination in favor of their exclusive clients.
The open applicants would allow domain registrations for every interested party irrespective whether they are in fact hotels, or whether they are OTAs or other third parties pushing into and interfering with the hotel business.
The community-based applicant will only allow hotels, hotel chains and hotel associations to register domain names under .hotel.
On February 27 this year, ICANN decided that out of the set of the four strings, only .hoteis and .hotels are similar to each other. As a consequence, we potentially face not just one new gTLD .hotel, but three, something no doubt which will confuse the consumer.
An additional cost intensive “string confusion objection” now has to be filed with ICANN as a consequence.
Even worse: Our European umbrella association HOTREC had to file formal objections against the four closed applicants to avoid likely misuse and detrimental damage to the hotel industry.
We cannot allow for OTAs to be the gatekeeper of our major distribution channel, the web. As a consequence, HOTREC found itself in the position of having to finance a six-digit Euro amount just on behalf of these four objections.
And this for the sole purpose of defending our generic industry title against a hijacking attack by some intermediates.
By the way:
- Why is the favorite of the hotel industry, the only community-based application for .hotel, not protected per se by ICANN procedures?
- Why is the community evaluation phase settled after all the other dispute resolution procedures and not at the beginning?
- Honi soit qui mal y pense? I consider this to be either a mistake or audiciousness.
The ICANN Conference during April in Beijing is now the next milestone to keep an open eye on.
At this event the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) has to decide by consensus vote whether to file an advice or objection to any of the new gTLD applications.
We are optimistic that following the line of the already issued “early warnings” by the Australian, French and German governments, the GAC might insist on a “no discrimination approach” for every hotel, meaning that only properties themselves may register domain names under .hotel.
Anything else would be deceiving and disappointing from the consumers’ and industries’ point of view.
Finally the Internet regulator ICANN has opened the 3 months application window for new extensions such as .SHOP, .CANON and .HOTEL®. We are working with ICANN for many years and achieved that the hotel industry will get its own identity soon. We also accomplished that .hotel cannot operated by anyone else than the an organization that is supported by the hotel industry itself. This very good news! We will keep you updated on the progress of our application.
The renowned search engine optimization website SEOmoz has recently published its 2011 edition of the Search Engine Ranking Factors. For the past 6 years, SEOmoz has compiled the aggregated opinions of dozens of the world’s best and brightest search marketers into this biannual ranking factors document. This year they present the data set of the opinions of 132-person panel.
With regards to the upcoming new .hotel domain names, we are always being asked how important domain names are. The experts of SEOmoz found that the most relevant search criterion is an exact match of the domain name with the search term. That means that www.tennis.hotel is likely to get a high position at Google if you search for “tennis hotel”.
Recently some of the leading domain name registrars have started to accept pre-registrations for .hotel® , .shop, .nyc and other domain names. The pre-registrations are free of cost for now, but if successfully processed, an annual domain name fee will come with a .hotel domain name registration. According to United Domains AG, one of the global registrars, the pre-registration option offers advantages:
Secure your chance to own one of the upcoming new top-level domains by pre-registering your desired domain name now. We will attempt to register your reserved domains as soon as this becomes possible thereby increasing your chances of owing one of the new TLDs. Additionally, by pre-registering, you won’t miss any of the registration deadlines. The pre-registration process is free; no processing fees will apply. Only in the case that you do wish to register any reserved domains will you be charged a fee. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that we can successfully register all desired, pre-registered domains.
Carlson Hotels executive vice president Nancy Johnson has joined Hotel Top-Level-Domain’s industry advisory board. The Advisory Board is responsible for making non-binding recommendations to the organization’s directors regarding domain names ending with .hotel. The group will determine who will eligible to register a dot hotel domain name. They will also provide assistance and guidance in governing the organization by establishing policies and objectives. Nancy will support and review the company’s strategy and management team, and assist with the development of domain name registration policies.
Those eligible for registration of .hotel domain names will include individual hotels and hotel chains, hotel organizations, and hotel organizations such as the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) or the Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Other parties working in or for the hotel industry may become eligible at a later stage. These prospective registrants would include hotel educational institutions, hotel media, hotel booking portals and other dedicated hotel suppliers.
HOTEL Top-Level-Domain held the first meeting of its international Advisory Board at the International Tourist Fair ITB in Berlin on March 9, 2011. The Board shall advise, support and make recommendations for the policies and operations of the coming .hotel Top-Level-Domain which will provide an exclusive name space for the global hotel industry. The international composition of the .hotel Advisory Board is designed to ensure that the interests of the global hotel community are being represented in a balanced way.
The board members each represent significant parts of the global hotel community, with one member representing the domain name business. The founding members are:
- Dr Ghassan Aidi, President of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association IH&RA,
- Joe McInerney, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association AH&LA,
- Markus Luthe, member of the executive committee of the European hotel association HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants & Cafés in Europe),
- and Philipp Grabensee, Chairman of the Board of Afilias for the domain name industry.
Fritz Dreesen, President of the German hotel association IHA, attended the meeting as an observer.
A central task for the board will be to help design the registration policies of the new name space in order to protect the legitimate rights of trademark and brand owners from the hotel industry. Guided by globally recognized best practices for brand protection and the participation in the creation of Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) at the global oversight organization for all top-level domains, ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers, www.icann.org), HOTEL Top-Level-Domain will implement measures to prevent cyber-squatting in the .hotel namespace.
Beyond the RPMs that ICANN will deploy in new namespaces .hotel will create a protected Hotel Marks list. Trademarks of large hotel chains will be put on a list of reserved names, thus ensuring that only the legitimate rights holder is able to register these names as a .hotel domain name.
The concept of this protection mechanism was already announced at the 39th meeting of ICANN in Cartagena in December 2010, where .hotel managing director Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek told a global audience: “We understand the concerns of trademark owners with regard to defensive registrations and we have discussed this issue with our partners in the hotel industry. As a consequence, we have created a protected names list, which includes the trademarks of the largest hotel companies.”
Cartagena de Indias, COLOMBIA – 6 December 2010 – At the 39th International Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Afilias announced that it has been selected by dotHOTEL® as the registry services and DNS provider for its application to ICANN for the .hotel new top-level domain (new TLD). dotHOTEL is supported by the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, the world’s largest association of hospitality providers.
“We selected Afilias because of its superior experience with new TLDs and its ability to help ensure that .hotel reaches its maximum potential in the global domain name marketplace,” said Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek, co-founder of dotHOTEL. “Afilias has a long and distinguished track record of providing reliable registry and DNS services and hence ensures technically stable and reliable support for the launch and growth of the new global home for hotel services on the Internet.”
dotHOTEL will apply for the .hotel Internet extension when ICANN begins accepting applications for new TLDs, expected in the second quarter of 2011. The mission of dotHOTEL is to create a namespace of security, trust and credibility for the global hotel industry and its customers. dotHOTEL also plans to develop products and services to enhance the efficiency and convenience of marketing and e-commerce for hotels and their organizations worldwide.
“Afilias’ superior technology and expertise in supporting more successful ICANN applications and new TLD launches than any other provider will help ensure the success of dotHOTEL. We look forward to bringing this new TLD to market as both an attractive new TLD for registrars to sell and as a means for the global hotel industry to enhance their global online marketing,” said Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias.
“The International Hotel & Restaurant Association fully supports this initiative,” said Dr. Ghassan Aidi, IH&RA President. “We are convinced that the creation of a .hotel namespace will be a significant step forward for our industry. We do believe that this is one of the best initiatives to unite the hospitality industry with electronic business under one label (.HOTEL).”
dotHOTEL (.hotel) is a new Top-Level Domain which is exclusively dedicated to hotels, their organizations and the hotel business worldwide. The initiative is being supported by hotel associations and hotel chains such as the International Hotel & Restaurant Association IH&RA, the Pacific Asia Travel Association PATA, the German Hotel Association IHA, Worldhotels or Design Hotels. For more information on dotHOTEL please visit www.dothotel.info.
About the IH&RA
The IH&RA is the only global business organization representing the hospitality industry worldwide. Officially recognized by the United Nations, IH&RA monitors and lobbies all international agencies on behalf of this industry, estimated to comprise 300,000 hotels and 8 million restaurants, employ 60 million people and contribute 950 billion USD annually to the global economy.
Afilias is a global provider of Internet infrastructure services that connect people to their data. Afilias’ reliable, secure, scalable, and globally available technology supports a wide range of applications including Internet domain registry services, Managed DNS, and services in the RFID and supply chain market with its Afilias Discovery Services. For more information on Afilias please visit www.afilias.info.
According to the German Hotel Association IHA (www.hotellerie.de) the two leading German hotel booking portals HRS.de and Hotel.de count for about 60% of the market of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) with in the German OTA market in 2009.
Provisions payed by hotels for hotel room bookings via the German OTAs range between around 8 up to 30%.
The hotel domain .hotel may help hotel to become more independend from the OTAs by better search engine rankings and more direct type-in by short, simple and descriptive domain names like www.one-and-only.hotel.
A good tool to find out more about the customers behavior is Google Insights which offers the option to select various parameters to specify a search request:
- Search Terms
- Time ranges (from 2004 to today)
You can search for instance for the search term “hotel berlin” on a worldwide basis within the last 12 month. The results are a “interest over time” graph with key news influencing the results, a world map which shows the intensity of interest in the search term, and the search terms specified into “top searches” and “rising searches”.
Google Insights is for DOTHOTEL a valuable tool to identify search terms, e.g. “hotel” versus “hotels” and the activity of searching customers in this area ans by this the demand for the .hotel top-level domain.
The graphical presenation for the “top searches” looks like this:
Based on the latest developments in ICANN’s process for the acceptance and approval of new top-level domains such as .hotel we have created a chart which shows the next steps and the overall timeline. The estimated schedule for the introduction of the .hotel domain names is based on indications of ICANN in March 2010. The major milestones are:
- June. 2010 – Publication of the 4th Draft of the Applicant Guidebook
- December 2010 – Publication of the final version of the Applicant Guidebook
- April 2011 – Submission of application for .hotel
- March 2012 – Start of .hotel domain name registrations for the hotel industry
We expect that major domain registrars and their domain resellers (where you get your .com or .info domain name today) will offer .hotel domain names from Q2/2012.
A detailed timeline chart is available here.