Greatest evolution in the dot.name web system since www.—-.com
Hotel Cipriani in Venice to be the only hotel in the world to have its own top level domain: .cipriani
By Chris Chaplow
Shangri-La hotels group leads those taking advantage of the opportunity presented by the forthcoming internet expansion in generic top level domains (gTLDs). Only seven hotel groups in the world have applied for their own top level domains: Shangri-La, Orient Express, Marriot, Hilton, Hyatt, Club Med, and Genting. Other hotel chains will now have to wait at least five years before the next stage of domain name expansion . Following six years of open stakeholder policy development, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) closed applications for those who wish to operate their own generic top level domain (gTLD) or simply put the part to the right of the dot. At present there are 22 gTLDs on the internet such as .com .net .org .info .biz etc (in addition to the 250 two-letter country codes .es .de .uk. etc). On 13 June 2012 the list of applications, each having paid $185.000, was revealed to consist of 1930 names. This move will change the internet for ever.
.hotel (dot-hotel): what will this mean for the hotel industry around the world?
There will be a .hotel (dot-hotel) to look out for, and a handful of brands will have their own top level domain such as .shangrila (dot shangrila).
Seven different companies have applied to run .hotel which is a extremely valuable internet name. Only one will obtain the right to run the dot hotel registry and dot hotel domain. Assuming all seven pass the strict administrative, financial, technical and background checks, ICANN will ask them to either merge or decide by auction.
The main purpose of the .hotel registration applications is to sell domain names at the second level, similarly to as is done now in the dot com zone. An example of a second level registration would be oxford.hotel. Five applications are “open” which means open for anybody to register, whether they are in the hotel industry or not. There will be protection for existing trademark holders, who can register names in a “sunrise” in advance of the general availability.
Hotel managers will have to decide whether to register their hotel name in the dot hotel space on the internet and have that website and email address
On of the applicants to run dot-hotel is Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l (Luxemburg) and this is a ‘community application’. It has the support of the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH&RA), the global business organization representing the hotel industry worldwide and hospitality industry worldwide.
The eligible registrants of domains at the second level i.e. savoy.hotel, will be limited to Hotels, Hotel Chains, and Hotel Associations. This restricted registration is something that hotel professionals will be pleased about. If this applicant can persuade ICANN’s evaluators that they do indeed represent a community (and the test has a high bar), this application will be deemed to be have community status and will succeed over the others.
Another applicant Despegar Online SRL (Uruguay) is an online travel agency in Latin America. The intended purpose of the .HOTEL gTLD is not to sell domain names at all but to create a trusted, hierarchical, secure, and intuitive namespace provided by Despegar for its global audience.
Booking.com the leading online hotel reservation system has applied for .hotels. Since it is the only applicant, it may be successful. However if ICANN considers there to be a strong similarity between hotel and hotels, the application will all be treated together and merge or auction will be the outcome.
As mentioned above there are over half a million hotels in the world. Of the 1930 string applications that ICANN received, about 700 were for brands. It is surprising that the hotel sector, whose customers purchase online in greater numbers than any other sector, has generally missed this opportunity. Only seven hotel groups in the world have applied for their own top level domains: Shangri-La, Orient Express, Marriot, Hilton, Hyatt, Club Med, and Genting. Compare this to applications from other industry sectors, Automotive with 42 applications, Financial with 69, Insurance with 35, Media 66.
Here is a list of applications from brands in the hotel industry. Registrations at the second level (eg bangkok.shangrila ) will be restricted to the brand owner, its corporate departments and divisions and, in some cases, also business partners and agents.
For information about the ICANN gTLD programme visit http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/ The full list of all 1930 applications can be reviewed here.
There is a public comment open until the 26 September to comment on the applications and read comments already posted which at the time of writing number 37 for dot hotel and include InterContinental, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham who oppose all the open dot-hotel applications.
The new gTLD will go live on the internet during 2013 and 2014 and the second round of expansions in five to ten years. These are difficult economic times and an $185,000 application plus same again for costs is a lot of money. Shangri-La, with an annual turnover of $1.5bn, is relatively small by major hotel group standards, but has decided it will be worth the investment. I wonder where were the others? Intercontinental (annual turnover $17.7bn), Hilton ($8bn), Marriot ($12bn), Accor ($9bn), Starwood, Best Western, Hyatt, Four Seasons ($3bn) Mandarin Oriental, Oberoi, Sheraton? Did they consider there was no ROI or proven business case or did they simply miss the boat?
Chris Chaplow is founder of Andalucia.com the tourism portal about Southern Spain and Vice Chair of the ICANN Business constituency.
A more detailed version of this article can be read at http://www.famoushotels.org/article/1272
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