We did some research on the websites of leading OTAs like Expedia, Hotel.de or Booking.com to figure out what are the most frequent search terms and phrases for the hotel online booking business. Here are the results:
hotel booking, hotel reservation, hotel bookings, hotel reservations, hotel offers, hotel discounts, cheap hotels rates, lowest hotel rates, business hotels, corporate hotels, room reservations, room bookings, worldwide, international, england, uk, ireland, us, luxury, pet friendly, romantic hotels, budget, discount, hotel deals, luxury hotels, cheap hotels, B&B, 5 star hotels, hotel reviews, hotel descriptions, hotel maps, hotel photos, travel, hotels, hotel, vacations, resort, cheap hotels, motel reservations, discount hotel reservation, discount hotel rooms, cheap hotel, hotel rates, discount hotel, hotel rooms, best hotel prices, boutique, design, wellness, spa, lodging, accommodation, special offers, packages, specials, weekend breaks, city breaks, deals, budget, cheap, discount, savings, destinations worldwide, ?????? ?? ?????, hotel?, hoteller, hotelli, ????????? ???????????, hôteliers, d’alberghi, Viesn?cu, Viešbu?io, Szállodai éttermi, lukanda, hotels, Hotele, Hotelierske, Hotelske, …
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.
Members of our team were present at the ICANN meeting in Sydney to promote the .hotel top-level domain to ICANN directors, registrars and other relevant parties. We also collected feedback from the users community and discussed policy topics for the hotel domain.
Concerns were raised on the timeline for the introduction of new top-level domains including .hotel, the very high costs for the application and the reservation on several domain names like france.hotel by governments. We are confident to find a compromise on these issues to make the .hotel top-level domain a success for the hotel industry and its customers.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has delayed the application window for new top-level domains to late first quarter of 2010.
Due 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.
Members of the .hotel top-level domain management team are present at the 33th ICANN meeting in Cairo, Egypt. We talked to a lot of ICANN stakeholders about the .hotel project and got worthy feedback on different development aspects of the .hotel name space.