We participated with two people at the 37th meeting of the Internet administration agency ICANN in Nairobi to discuss with directors and staff the introduction of the .hotel top-level domain (TLD). ICANN is likely to open the application window for .hotel and other extensions like .sport, .paris or .ibm beginning of next year.
According to latest information from ICANN the new TLDs including dothotel may become available later in 2011. That means that hotels and hotel chains will be able to register domain names like www.choice.hotel or www.design.hotel at this time.
Recently a Google executive presented at a major hotel conference in Europe that the average customer seeking to book a hotel undertakes 12 search cycles during 26 days to finalize his booking.
These figures show how important it is to position the hotel’s homepage among the top search engine rankings in order to catch-up with as much as possible of the customers search requests.
This is exactly where the new .hotel domain names enter the online travel booking landscape because they will improve search engine rankings and by this reduce provisions paid to Online Travel Agents (OTAs) like Expedia, Hotel.de or Tripadvisor. In fact the .hotel domain names will be another simple and inexpensive as well as efficient and effective tool to increase hotel revenues in a strongly growing online travel business.
To summarize an extensive topic, here are the benefits offered by .hotel domain names in this regard:
Benefits of .hotel domain names for customers:
- Better access to the hotel’s website through improved search engine rankings or type-in (direct search)
- Trustworthy and latest information direct from the hotel owner
- Availability of special and best price packages which are not offered by OTAs
Benefits of .hotel domain names for hotels:
- Strong branding effects of the domain name since frequently used by customers
- Less provisions paid to OTAs
- Sustainable better search engine positions
This is a topic on which we will publish more soon, watch out on our website.
At this years top event of the German hotel branch, the Deutschen Hotelkongress 2010, which took place on 25./26. January in Berlin, we discussed .hotel with numerous hotel CEOs, e-commerce managers and search engine operators such as Google. There are many questions from the hotel community about .hotel and we had lots to do to answer them all.
The German hotel association IHA is supporting .hotel.
Our .hotel top-level domain project had been invited at the 47th Annual Congress took place between the 18th and 21st of January 2010 at the Continental Hotel in Belgrade, Serbia. With the start of the new decade, the Congress had highlighted the future of the hospitality industry. Belgrade, Serbia perfectly embodied this year’s theme of looking towards the future for opportunities of growth and development in the hotel industry.
We had the opportunity to present the .hotel TLD to a large audience and discuss numerous questions which where asked by the participants. Topic like the protection of hotel brand trademarks came up and requests when and where .hotel domain names will be available.
HOTEL Top-Level Domain managing directors Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek and Katrin Ohlmer at the IH-RA Board Meeting after the presentation on the benefits of .hotel for the global hotel industry.
The .hotel project has been selected to present its concept to a global hotel industry audience at the 47th annual congress of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association IH&RA, held from 18-21 January 2010 in Belgrade, Serbia. We are looking forward to this excellent opportunity to demonstrate the participants from all over the world the benefits of the .hotel namespace. Beyond these benefits, the focus of our presentation will be on our registration and rights protection policies. We will also be present on the exhibition floor and invite all delegates to visit our booth.
We presented the proposal for a .hotel top-level domain to a larger audience within the global Internet community (photo) at the 36. meeting of ICANN, the organization that manages domain names and IP numbers, in Seoul. Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek presented .hotel at the ICANN public forum to the ICANN Board of Directors. The audience applauded the idea of having a .hotel TLD and the Chair of the ICANN Board of Directors, Peter Dengate Thrush, welcomed .hotel with the words “sounds like another very exciting idea coming forward”.
We also discussed .hotel with trademark lawyers who work for large hotel chains and explained which rights protection mechanisms we will introduce to protect trademark owners like HILTON, MARRIOTT or HYATT. For .hotel domain names a phased introduction is foreseen which allows owners of intellectual property rights a preferred registration of their names before the open registration for members of the global hotel industry community starts.
Due to the lastest adjustments in ICANN‘s timeline the publication of the final applicant guidebook has slipped from December 2009 to early 2010, consecutively the application window is expected to be within the 2. quarter of 2010. By this the .hotel domain names may become available in a best case in early 2011, in a more likely case in mid 2011.
Through our outreach program within the hotel community we reach the different sectors of the industry. Support for .hotel often comes spontaneously and immediately since nearly everybody understands the value of .hotel domain names for himself but also for the entire hotel business. Therefore we got supporting statements from individual hotels, hotel chains, hotel schools, hotel marketing organisations, suppliers of hotel interior and law firms specialized on the hotel business, to name some of them.
What will happen to the search engine positions of the top hotel brands when the .hotel domain names will become available form later next year? We assume not much since hilton.com and marriott.com are in the leading positions in search engines anyway. Ok, the Choice Hotels may get a better position with choice.hotel since they don’t own choice.com, along with some other hotel brands and hotels which missed to register their national domain extension and/or their .com domain name. Hotel booking portals do not have a chance to catch up with these heavy weights.
But the top brands are only a 5% tip of the over 500,000 hotels iceberg worldwide. This majority of hotels (the Long Tail) also rely on good search engine rankings but they are more than often outpaced by booking portals like Expedia, Bookings.com or HRS.de.
This is the point where .hotel comes into the game, since the new .hotel domain names are likely to offer hotels benefits for their search engine ranking. And better rankings do directly reduce the annoying provisions paid formerly to hotel booking portals. An easy but effective story!
Since the start of the .hotel top-level domain project we had been in contact with the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA, www.ih-ra.org). The IH&RA is the only business organisation representing the hospitality industry worldwide. Its members are national hotel associations throughout the world, and international and national hotel chains. Officially recognised by the United Nations, IH&RA monitors and lobbies all international agencies on behalf of this industry, estimated to comprise 300,000 hotels. In order to incorporate and respect the interests of the hotel industry and closely allign activities regarding the .hotel name space we have signed an agreement with the IH&RA.
Members of our team presented the .hotel project to the IH&RA Board and NACE members on their annual meeting in Barcelona on June 18, 2009. The board members welcomed our proposals and concepts as an important initiative for the global hotel business.