The coming weeks could see Booking.com given the go ahead by ICANN for the .HOTELS top level domain.
What that means is that the online accommodation giant will effectively control how and when .HOTELS is used, a thought that is sending shivers down the spine of some in the hotel industry.
The Priceline-owned brand is the only company to apply for the .hotels domain echoing Google's move to secure the .FLY domain alongside a string of others including .CAR and .SHOP.
A number of companies applied for the .HOTEL domain including Latin America online travel agent despegar.
Booking's application has provoked an outburst in French online news service Tendance Hotellerie which says it will effectively force hotels to use the accommodation giant as an intermediary.
Interesting to note that the same site also ran a story on how fed up hoteliers are with the conditions imposed on them by OTAs.
The company's application (words highlighted in bold by Tnooz) is interesting in that it sets out its intentions regarding the .HOTELS domain saying it will provide 'stakeholders including hotel partners' with:
a recognizable and trusted identifier on the internet, creating additional level playing fields for the hotel industry under the authority of a prominent player in the hotel reservation marketplace.
In the beginning, and until further developing a detailed plan to use this new gTLD, Booking.com's intention is to implement a single registrant TLD.
reservation and registration of domain names in the name of Booking.com. It is likely that this will be the scenario that Booking.com will put in place during the first months or even years of operation of the .hotels gTLD.
The are many questions:
- When? An ICANN spokesman tells us best case scenario is nine months from April 2012, more details here
- Who makes the decision? Again, according to the spokesman, independent parties are responsible for processing applications but apparently extensive background checks are part of the process
- Will Booking.com open up .HOTELS to the industry? The application sheds a little light on this
"launch of the TLD: if and when implemented by the registry operator, this is likely going to be a gradual process, whereby selected third parties that meet certain criteria, which Booking.com will be entitled to set at its own discretion, may register domain names in the .hotels gTLD."
- What will it cost? Booking.com is a commercial organisation and will surely expect to make money from the process
- What happens if hotels or other hotel industry organisations disagree with the way Booking.com is running the domain? There is a disputes procedure and further information can be found on the ICANN microsite here. In addition, an objections process for governments, trademark holders and certain other parties is ongoing
- Does anyone care? There has been a lot of debate around the value of the new gTLDs although most will sit up and take notice with the likes of Google and Booking.com seeing opportunity
The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition, an organisation representing 25,000 hotels in 100 countries and including many of the big brands, has filed an objection
to applications for .HOTEL and .HOTELS.
Booking has partnered with Neustar
, which manages the .US domain on behalf of the Department of Commerce, and will provide back-end services for the .HOTELS registry.
Booking declined to comment on how it will use the gTLD.
Interestingly, the ski industry is going down the community approach for the .SKI domain and Starting Dot, a registry business established in Paris a year ago has received support from the International Ski Federation.
NB: Safe hands image via Shutterstock