Greatest evolution in the dot.name web system since www.—-.com - the full story

( words)

By Chris Chaplow

---------- the full story ---------

Hotel Cipriani in Venice to be the only hotel in the world to have its own top level domain .cipriani
Shangri-La hotels 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.

What will this mean for the hotel industry around the world?

Starting with the non branded generic  .hotel   (dot hotel)  Seven different companies have applied to run this potentially valuable internet name. Only one will win 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.  

Open registration applications

The main purpose of the open 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 - “open” 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.
As an example, the Oxford Palace Hotel in Los Angeles, whose current website is HYPERLINK "//oxfordhotel.com"www.oxfordhotel.com, will decide whether to register Oxford.hotel as a website for their hotel, or make a defensive registration just in case a cyber squatter, domain trader or other new business, such as a website about hotels in Oxford, UK, registers first.
Here are the five open applications for dot hotel.
Fegistry LLC (USA) run by Jay Westerdal – the plan for .hotel  is to “create a recognizable, viable, and profitable extension to bring together individuals and companies who are passionate about self-identifying themselves as in the hotel industry. There are thousands of hotels and hotel-related businesses on the Internet and a registrant can create a website that identifies itself directly in the TLD... We are creating the opportunity for internet users to identify websites that operate in or around the hotel industry by looking just at the TLD. By owning a domain in the .hotel community it creates a win-win for most companies because they don’t need to identify to the left of the dot they are a hotel-related website.”

Other applicants to run dot-hotel that are along similarly open lines are:
Spring McCook LLC (USA) whose venture capital-backed holding company Donuts has made 101 different name applications.  
DotHotel Inc (UAE) a subsidiary of the  HYPERLINK "//icannwiki.com/index.php/Directi" \o "Directi" Directi Group, who have applied for 31 names “envision hotel owners of all sizes, and from all over the world, using .hotel as a medium to easily reach out to customers.” It is estimated that about 550.000 hotels and resorts exist worldwide. They have counted 525,913 existing domain names including the string ‘hotel’.
Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. (VG) the company has applied for 68 names TLDs, and believes “The .HOTEL top-level domain will offer travelers better access to information regarding the quality and price of hotels, motels, and other lodging, while at the same time giving hotels better access to potential customers... The Internet has become the primary source for researching and booking hotels. In an EU study on travel habits, over 70% of lodgers used the Internet to book hotel rooms, exceeding phone calls and travel agencies. (Source: http:⁄⁄www.nh-hotels.com⁄nh⁄en⁄press_room⁄535.html)”
HYPERLINK "//icannwiki.com/index.php?title=Famous_Four_Media&action=edit&redlink=1" \o "Famous Four Media (page does not exist)"Famous Four Media (dot Hotel Limited, Gibraltar) has applied for 61 TLDs. This application proposes to control in some way the domain registrations within the hotel industry .“The aim of .hotel is to create a blank canvas for the online hotel sector set within a secure environment.”  The applicant proposes to create a special industry zone. “Success of the gTLD will be determined largely by the sector’s key global stakeholders... (who) should have the opportunity to influence the gTLD and the way it is governed. Accordingly, the Applicant is establishing a Governance Council (“GC”), consisting of key stakeholders that will serve as an advisory body.”

Community Applications
Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l (Luxemburg) 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.

Open applications for special purpose
HYPERLINK "//icannwiki.com/index.php?title=Despegar_Online_SRL&action=edit&redlink=1" \o "Despegar Online SRL (page does not exist)"Despegar Online SRL  (Uruguay)  Despegar (Spanish for “take-off”) is part of the largest online travel agency in Latin America and serves more than five million customers in 21 countries with airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages, and other travel-related services. Despegar also powers travel bookings for various airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, and other tourism-related organizations internationally.
Despegar is also applying for .VUELOS (flights in Spanish) and .HOTELES, which target its Spanish-speaking audiences; .PASSAGENS and .HOTEIS, which target its Portuguese-speaking audiences.
The intended purpose of the .HOTEL gTLD is not to sell domain names but to create a trusted, hierarchical, secure, and intuitive namespace provided by Despegar for its global audience. At present, such a dedicated, secure namespace does not exist in open domain registrations; Despegar believes that consumers and travel-related companies will benefit from the presence of a targeted and dedicated secure portal.
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.
Brand Applications
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. There are no multiple applications for the same string and all propose that second level domain registrations will be restricted to the brand owner, its corporate departments and divisions and, in some cases, also business partners and agents. The information below is taken from the submitted application.

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.CIPRIANI
If approved Hotel Cipriani in Venice with have the distinction to be the only hotel in the world to have its own top level domain.  The hotel is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orient Express Hotels, Ltd. The proposed .cipriani gTLD is a restricted, exclusively-controlled TLD that would, according to the application:
•create a connected digital presence and personalized brand experience for clients and business partners; ?•deliver product and service marketing⁄advertising;?•enable marketing campaign activation; ?•facilitate secure interaction and communication with individuals and entities with whom the applicant and its affiliated entities has a business relationship; ?•improve business operations; ?•simplify Internet user navigation to information about the applicant and its affiliated entities ,products and services; ?•demonstrate market leadership in protecting customer privacy and confidential information online; ?•validate ⁄ authenticate authorized agents of the applicant and its affiliated entities products;?•meet future client expectations and competitive market demands. ??
.ORIENTEXPRESS
Use as a restricted brand domain as for .CIPRIANI
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.CLUBMED??The .clubmed gTLD will operate as a restricted registry, in which Club Méditerranée S.A. can create and control domain spaces that promote its brand identity and authenticity. It will be used by Club Med to provide information, services and resources relating to its upscale holidays to its guests and potential customers in a way that promotes trust, convenience and utility. The .clubmed gTLD will provide an authoritative internet space for Club Med and, potentially, its affiliates and partners that are associated with the Club Med brand. Second and third level domains can then be utilised for marketing purposes, with internet users assured of brand authenticity.
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.GENTING
The .genting gTLD will operate as a restricted registry, in which Resorts World Inc Pte. Ltd. can create and control domain spaces that promote its “Genting” brand identity and authenticity. ??Resorts World, established in 2009, is part of the Genting Group, which was established in 1965. Based in Hong Kong and Singapore, Resort World’s principal activities are in investment holding and licensing of intellectual property rights, including the promotion of the “Genting” brand.  The Genting Group currently comprises five publicly-listed companies in three different jurisdictions operating under the “Genting” brand with a combined market capitalisation of over RM 125 billion ($40.5 billion) Collectively, the Genting Group has over 58,000 employees. The Genting Group’s commitment to excellence, innovation and growth has helped in the establishment of its premier global brand names such as the “Genting” brand. In this regard, consumer trust and continuous innovation are paramount considerations in Resort World’s application for the .genting gTLD.?
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.SHANGRILA  & HYPERLINK "//news.dot-nxt.com/gtld/%E9%A6%99%E6%A0%BC%E9%87%8C%E6%8B%89"????
Shangri-La have made two applications for this name, one in Latin script and one in Chinese script. The latter is known as an international domain name.  .shangrila will operate as a restricted registry, in which Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited can create and control domain spaces within .shangrila that promote the identity and authenticity of its brand.
Shangri-La International, trading as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, is a global group that owns, operates and⁄or manages 57 five-star Shangri-La hotels and resorts in 17 countries across the world. This is due to expand to 84 hotels in 21 countries in the near future. Shangri-La International, established in 1984, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Asia Limited listed on the Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges. In 2010 the group revenue was nearly $1.6 billion with a market capitalisation of about $42 billion. Shangri-La Asia has over 33,000 employees and around 30,000 guest rooms.
.KERRYHOTELES
Use as a restricted corporate domain as for .SHANGRILA  
Kerry Hotels was launched by Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited (Shangri-La International) in 2011. Shangri-La International, an associated company of Kerry Trading, operates and⁄or manages five-star hotels and resorts located in premier addresses across the world. Kerry Hotels in Pudong, Shanghai and Beijing together offers in excess of 1,000 guestrooms with the most advanced conference, banqueting and hotel-based fitness facilities in the respective regions.
.TRADERSHOTELS
Use as a restricted corporate domain as for .SHANGRILA  
Traders Hotels are a brand of hotels owned, operated and⁄or managed by Shangri-La International. Shangri-La International opened the first Traders Hotel in 1989 and currently operates 13 Traders Hotels in eight countries across Asia and the Middle East. This is expected to expand to nine countries in the near future.
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.HILTON?
Hilton anticipate that Hilton and its Affiliates will be the only registrants and users of second-level names in the .hilton gTLD registry and that consumers will come to recognize and rely upon the .hilton TLD as a sign of authenticity.
In 1995, Hilton became one of the first major hospitality companies to introduce a website allowing guests to book hotel rooms securely without picking up a phone or meeting with a travel agent.
 Hilton’s hotel brands comprise more than 3,800 hotels and time share properties, with 630,000 rooms in 88 countries around the world.  Hilton is the fastest growing major hotel company having added more than 950 hotels since June 2007.
.HYATT
The intended future mission of the .HYATT gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace.  Hyatt intends to initially limit registration and use of domain names within the .HYATT gTLD to Hyatt and potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates.
Hyatt will begin evaluating strategies to potentially migrate traffic away from its current patchwork network of second-level domain names, which are registered in a variety of gTLDs, to .HYATT.  Later Hyatt will assess whether to extend registration rights to third parties such as licensees or other strategic partners.
.MARRIOT
The mission of the .MARRIOTT gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace provided by Marriott and potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates. Marriott’s content is accessible in the following representative TLDs  .COM, .NET, .ORG, .CA, .CN, .EU, and .JP.
Initial implementation of the gTLD will involve Marriot registering a limited number of .MARRIOTT second-level domain names. Once all testing has been successfully completed, Marriot will begin allocating domain names in .MARRIOTT for more widespread internal corporate use to permit registration by other registrants such as licensees or strategic partners. Marriot is confident that the number of domain name registrations will be less than 10,000 in the first five years of operation.
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For information about the ICANN gTLD programme visit HYPERLINK "//newgtlds.icann.org/en/"//newgtlds.icann.org/en/  ?The full list of all 1930 applications can be reviewed here
HYPERLINK "//newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en"//newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en
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.

Chris Chaplow
Managing Director
Andalucia.com S.L.
Avenida del Carmen 9
Ed. Puertosol, Puerto Deportivo
1ª Planta, Oficina 30
Estepona, 29680
Malaga, Spain
Tel: + (34) 952 897 865
Fax: + (34) 952 897 874
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.andalucia.com

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