May 19th, 2014
The expansion of Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD’s) in the Domain Name System is well underway. You’ll recognise traditional gTLD’s as .com, .org, .net etc. but, you may have noticed new domain extensions already being promoted, .hotel, .hotels .london, .marketing etc.
Should you take the plunge and buy a shiny new domain? Here we present a few factors you may want to consider before purchasing;
Registering your very own gTLD from scratch, for example .YOURBRAND is unlikely to be feasible for most businesses; the costs are significant at around $185,000 in addition to multiple infrastructure requirements, legal costs etc. However, this hasn’t stopped brands like Shangri-La trying to register the extension .TRADERSHOTELS and Orient-Express Hotels Ltd trying to register .ORIENTEXPRESS
Costs to register one of the many newly established gTLD’s such as .london are more affordable. Prices will vary dependent on your domain broker but expect to pay between £20-40 per annum. Other gTLD’s will vary in price depending on the extension. Note that for .london domains, priority is given to those with business operations physically based in London.
There is also an argument that the expansion of gTLD’s could devalue the domain brokerage industry as a whole. How do you assess the value of the multitude of possible domain combinations available? Is a .co.uk worth more than a .london? Should a .london be worth more than .hotels? At this stage it’s very difficult to say with certainty.
Motivation for registration
Brand Protection – you may wish to register your brand(s) to protect them against OTAs/competitors, although it’s important to note that in order for a competitor to rank well, the domain would need to build up authority i.e. establish itself as a fully-fledged, relevant, website.
You may also want to register some of the new negative gTLD’s to stop disgruntled guests creating sites that could harm your brand. For example, you may want to register YOURBRAND.SUCKS (a genuine gTLD!). Domain registrars will also allow businesses to block the ability for a domain to be registered, at a reduced cost; speak to your domain broker to discuss your options.
Marketing – hotelname.london or brand.hotels (note that .hotels isn’t yet available) may be attractive from a vanity perspective, but a new domain will always require work to build its authority. Consider the consistency of your marketing message also; featuring multiple URL’s in marketing collateral could confuse.
The speed with which consumers will recognise the new gTLD’s is also a factor to consider. Given that existing TLD’s are so well established (we all know websites to have .com or .co.uk or respective international extensions). How long will it take people to embrace these new domains and understand that .london is actually a domain extension itself?
Just purchasing the domain hotelname.london will not miraculously fast track a website to the top of search engines. There will always be a requirement to build a new domain’s authority. Exactly how search engines are going to treat these domains is still a little unknown as the gTLD’s are still in their infancy, although Google has historically preferred the traditional .com and ccTLD’s such as .co.uk, .de etc. Over time, it’s likely we will start to see the more gTLDs e.g) .london appearing in search results, based, as always, on relevancy.
From a brand perspective, some companies have managed to register their actual brand as an extension (for example Samsung in Korea). Again it remains to be seen whether search engines would rank a .brandname domain higher for branded search.
Given that internet giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have been trying to register new gTLD’s, you can assume that the internet is evolving and that these new domains will have prominence within search results moving forward.
The future of gTLD’s for hotels
Booking.com are presently trying to register .HOTELS as a domain extension, although this has been objected by Hotel Top-Level-Domain Sa.r.l who are in the process of trying to register the domain extension .HOTEL
There are obvious industry concerns about an OTA hosting a .HOTEL(S) domain extension, especially if their intention is to run this as a closed business (potentially offering the domains exclusively to their hotel partners). Hotel Top-Level-Domain Sa.r.l appears to have the backing of the global hospitality community as it intends to run .HOTEL with a closed application. This means only hotels/brand names are able to register a .HOTEL domain (for example YOURBRAND.HOTEL)
HOTREC – the European Trade Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés in Europe has added its support by filing a formal objection to the OTAs ownership of the domain extensions, in an effort to stop potential damage the hotel industry online.
You may want to support Hotel Top-Level-Domain Sa.r.l in their efforts, by sharing the message.