Domain names for the hotel business

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ICANN approves application window for .HOTEL and others

The Internet’s global administration agency on Monday approved to open an application window for new web suffixes, also called top-level domains. Our .HOTEL will be one among many others, also extensions for hotel brand like .hilton or .marriott will be possible with this biggest ever shake-up in the addressing of websites.

The California based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and its multi-stakeholder community voted overwhelmingly this step at its meeting in Singapore .

By the decision domain names with the extension .hotel (“dothotel”) will become availiable likely from early 2013. See our ICANN timeline for .hotel below:

 

Why CHOICE, HUSA and NH need .HOTEL

When discussing the upcoming .hotel top-level domain with hotel owners and hotel marketing experts we are often confronted with the argument that most hotels and hotel chains do already own their respective .com domain name and for this reason do not need to register a .hotel domain name. To make this argument a valid one we did some research among the top 100 hotel chains and marketing organizations and asked whether they own a .com domain names which matches their brand name.

Interestingly most experts failed with their argument. Almost 20 out of the top 50 hotel brands do not own a corresponding .com domain name, going beyond the top 50, things are getting even worse. To give these findings a face please visit the following domain names and find out that you do not get what you expect:

www.choice.com
www.westmont.com
www.louvre.com
www.vantage.com
www.home.com
www.nh.com
www.interstate.com
www.scandic.com
www.prince.com
www.ocean.com
www.four-seasons.com
www.highgate.com
www.drury.com
www.barony.com
www.husa.com
www.omni.com
www.greentree.com
www.guangdong.com
www.apa.com
www.tokyu.com

These findings not only affect hotel chain names but also individual hotel names. For instance, the famous ADLON hotel in Berlin, Germany, did not manage to register neither the German www.adlon.de nor the international www.adlon.com.

Exactly at this point the .hotel name space could offer orientation for hotel customers since only hotels may register the .hotel domain names. By this we will finally see that www.choice.hotel and www.adlon.hotel will resolve to the respective brand.

The missing .com domain name is just one of the dimensions why a .hotel name space is needed!

Better Search Engine Positions with .hotel?

Haven’t you wondered why hotel-related domain names like www.parishotel.com or www.5starhotels.com constantly realized extraordinary prices when sold to a new owner. Or why www.hotel.eu, www.hotel.info or even www.hotels.sc (.sc = seychelles) are among the top three most valuable domain names in each new top-level domain extension?

We tell you why – or much better see it with your own eyes: Over 50% or the Internet users search request in search engines or by direct search include a geographic term and in cases of a special relationship with hotels a generic term like cheap, design or family. We made a search engine request survey with typing in some dozens of search combination with the pattern “hotel paris”, “hotel marina” or just “hotel” (with different country search settings).

To point out the term “hotel paris” with Google, Yahoo and Bing as a representative search example: There is a very clear relation between the search term “hotel paris” and the domain names listed in the top positions: www.hotels-paris.fr, www.hotel-paris.net and www.hotelparis.biz.

Having said this you can imagine how valuable .hotel domain names will be for hotels. Hotels may choose any domain name which describes their hotel, from www.brand.hotel, www.destination.hotel to www.domains.hotel.By the opportunity for improved search engine rankings the .hotel domain extension will offer a great benefit to hotels – and of course shorter and simpler domain names which stick to the Internet users mind.

.hotel at World Hotel Congress in Belgrade

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.

IH&RA requests ICANN to introduce .hotel

IHRA-logo-233x213In his comments to 3rd version of ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook for the introduction of new generic top-level domains the IH&RA President Dr. Ghassan Aidi reflected on the advantage that .hotel will give the hotel industry and hoteliers an identifier which is unique and descriptive, especially for consumers. Dr. Aidi said “Please accelerate the process as we do need badly DOT HOTEL”.

In a second post the IH&RA states that our .hotel project goals are fully in alignment with the International Hotel & Restaurant Association’s tasks. We appreciate that the IH&RA is convinced that the creation of the .hotel namespace will be a significant step towards the hotel industry. In direction to ICANN Dr. Aidi requests “We strongly encourage ICANN to go ahead swiftly with the new gTLD process. This will not only enable the merits of this innovative concept to be proven but may also have direct effects on the global hotel industry.”

About the IH&RA

The International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) is the only global business organization representing the hospitality industry worldwide. It is a global network of independent and chain operators, national associations, hospitality suppliers and educational School in the hotel and restaurant industry, representing over 750.000 establishments in more than 150 countries. 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 70 million people and contribute 950 billion USD annually to the global economy.

Broad Support for .hotel by Hotel Community

logo-hotel-200Through 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.

The Long Tail Story

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!

Are .tel and .hotel confusingly similar?

hotel-vs-telDue to an online tool ICANN let program to identify confusingly similar TLD strings the existing .tel top-level domain and our planned .hotel top-level domain are at least 48% similar. If this is confusing is not clear by just the percentage number, but everybody we asked at ICANN agreed that no one will confuse .tel and .hotel. It is as unlikely as someone who wants to buy a telephone ending up in a hotel room was the clear cut answer.

Many parties, among them the IP lawyers, are critics of this tool, as it does not incorporate visual, phonetic and other measures normally used if comparing a string.

http://icann.sword-group.com/icann-algorithm/Default.aspx

Huge demand for .hotel domain names

new-hotel-domainsStatistics reveal that there are globally more than 250 registrations of domain names with the string “hotel” inside each day. This adds up to over 100,000 domain names each year. With over 80 million domain names the .com name space is quite overcrowded and the new “hotel” domain names are getting longer and longer each over time. Domain names like www.24hotelonlineboston.com are the standard case today, even hotels with a brand may only find www.marinahotelsingaporeonline.com.

.hotel – Creating a new Top-Level Domain

hotel-domains-statisticsAt about the time we started the .berlin top-level domain project we also evaluated other areas where there is a need for an own top-level domain. We started with  figuring out which common terms are often used in domain names. Among the results where the terms “jobs”, “music”, “online”, “game” and of course “hotel”. All these terms with second-level domains in the gTLD name spaces, primarily .com, but also .org or .info. The term hotel is used by over a million domain names from www.designhotels.com to www.paris-hotels.com.

During our research we also got a lot of positive feedback from hotels on the .hotel concept since online marketing is going to become a major contributor to the promotional efforts of the hotel industry.