12 Things To Know About New Domains

Earlier this week, ICANN voted on and approved a new generic top-level domain (TLD) policy that allows the create of new URL suffixes.  You know, .com, .net, .org…the stuff to the right of the brand name.

Of course, if all goes to plan, the .com could become the brand name.

Like .hilton, .disney or .tripadvisor.

But what does it all mean for your hotel, attraction or tourist destination?  The end of the world, a new domain name gold rush or an opportunity for innovation?  Let’s review.

1. What is the new gTLD policy?

Essentially, anyone* can create, own and manage a top-level domain of their choosing.  The most obvious candidates would be major brands, such as Canon, which has already expressed a desire to own and use .canon.  In that case, .canon would function just like .com.

*anyone with $185,000.

2. What about .travel?

No change.  Which, from our perspective is not anything new.  .travel has been floundering around the internet for a few years now without the education or exclusivity originally promised.  Of course, our dislike with the management of .travel is pretty well-known to our loyal readers over the past 4 years.

3. Who can own a unique TLD?

According to the current guidelines (which will not be finalized until mid-year), only ‘corporations or organizations’ can apply for the new TLDs.

4. How much does it cost?

The application fee alone, for a single gTLD, is set at $185,000.  Add on yearly fees of at least $25,000 and any other charges ICANN feels like implementing, and you are looking at a sizable increase in your domain name budget.

ICANN argues that the pricing structure is set-up to prevent squatting, but we simply see it as an easy way to control who owns which TLD.  Not to mention pull in some significant revenue (no word yet on what that money will be used for).

For all the talk of innovation by ICANN, the pricing structure certainly puts a huge hurdle in front of legitimate, small businesses.

5. How many domains will be registered?

ICANN expects ‘500 to 1,000′ during the first year and will impose a 1,000 gTLD registration limit per year.  So, forget all of those other articles implying that millions of names will be registered.

Sure, it could happen, but it will take a few hundred years.

6. How can I protect my brand name?

By paying attention.

Especially if you share a brand name with another corporation.

Applicants for a name must 1) pay the deposit, 2) pass a ‘thorough vetting process’ (we will see how thorough it really is), 3) pass a ‘Expression of Interest’ during which the applicant and name will be presented to the general public.

Plus, trademarks will be taken into account.  Meaning the chances of snagging .royalcaribbean are low.

7. What about a conflict?

If multiple organizations are interested in the same name…say .delta for Delta Airlines and Delta Faucet…ICANN encourages the two corporations to ‘work it out’.  Assuming you don’t want to play nice, the name goes to auction and the organization with the deepest pockets wins.

8. What about generic names?

Like .tourism or .hotel? Same as a brand conflict. Two corporations enter, one corporation leaves.  Sounds like a good way to determine who owns .nyc, .cruise or .destination, right?

9. What about SEO?

Reportedly little to no impact.

10. What about DMOs, CVBs and destinations without brand names?

Like .nyc or .sanfrancisco? Good question.  One would assume, and hope, that ICANN will keep city extensions with the municipal governments, who in turn could hand travel.sanfrancisco over to the San Francisco Travel Association.

However there is still the question and opportunity for .tourism, .CVB, .destination, etc.  Could an organization like the U.S. Travel Association step up and manage a master TLD for all destinations?  Sure, but would it want to?

11. Do we really need these new domains?

Unless you are sitting at the headquarters of a Fortune 100 company…and even then you might be giving yourself a migraine over this crap…there is not really a need or use for these new domains.

Innovation is limited to those who can afford it.

Add in the penetration of search, plus the ubiquitous nature of .com and it is hard to see the internet public learning a new way to surf.

Tell us again, how is .biz going?

12. What should I do right now?

If you are at a major travel and tourism organization, 1) figure out the strategy for these new TLDs, 2) call the company lawyer and 3) take some Advil.

If you are at a smaller attraction, DMO or CVB and your business card does not say ‘Disney’ on it, just keep monitoring the progress and keep an eye out for your brand name.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.