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Status: Proposed
Registry Provider: Neustar
Type: Generic
Category: Industry
Priority #: 526 - Despegar Online SRL

.hoteis, which is Portuguese for "hotels," is a proposed TLD in ICANN's New gTLD Program. The applicant is Despegar Online SRL.[1]

The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition, which is made up of over 25,000 hotels in over 100 countries, including many major brands, has filed complaints against .hoteis, as well as six of the seven .hotel applications, and the applications for .hotels and .hoteles. They support the .hotel application submitted by HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l, and urge the Independent Objector to object to the other applications on community grounds. If this does not occur, they plan to file their own Community Objections.[2] In the end, The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition filed a community objection against the application.[3]

GAC Early Warning

The application was issued two GAC Early Warnings, from Australia and Germany. The warning system is noted as a strong recommendation on behalf of national governments to the ICANN Board that a given TLD application should be denied as it stands. Applicants are encouraged to work with objecting GAC members.[4]

The Australian warning states that the applicant is "seeking exclusive access to a common generic string .. that relates to a broad market sector," which Ms. Dryden notes could have unintended consequences and a negative impact on competition. The German warning reiterates this concern, but also adds that it believes .hoteis should be placed in a contentions set with .hotels and .hotel.[5]

Community Objection

HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants, & Cafés in Europe) filed a community objection against this application.[6]

String Similarity

After the long delay ruling from the String Similarity Panel was released in late February 2013, it was revealed that .hoteis had been deemed to similar to .hotels and consequently were placed in contention set. Only one TLD can go on from a contention set to implementation, the others must be withdrawn or beat in auction or otherwise negotiated away from their application. The process of the String Similarity Panel was long obscured and had been causing a great deal of confusion and anxiety within the new TLD applicant community. Other than the .hotel/hoteis contention set there was only one other created, .unicom & .unicorn. There is no official appeals process to the findings of the Panel.[7]

Application Details

The following is excerpted from the applicant's response to question #18:

Despegar Online SRL (“Despegar”) is a branch of the largest online travel agency in Latin America. Despegar’s online services enable its customers to book airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages, and other travel-related services, and also power travel bookings for various airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, and other tourism-related organizations internationally. Despegar serves more than five million clients annually and has a presence in 21 countries. Its services and online content are accessible in the .COM gTLD, as well as various ccTLDs.

Despegar is applying for five gTLDs: .VUELOS and .HOTELES, which target its Spanish-speaking audiences; .PASSAGENS and .HOTEIS, which target its Portuguese-speaking audiences; and .HOTEL, which targets its English, Spanish, and Portuguese-speaking audiences.

The intended future mission and purpose of the .HOTEIS gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, secure, and intuitive namespace provided by Despegar for a Portuguese-speaking audience. At present, such a dedicated, secure namespace does not exist; Despegar believes that consumers and travel companies will benefit from the presence of a secure portal dedicated to serving Portuguese-speaking markets. Despegar is applying for .HOTEIS, but at the time of filing this application there has not been enough time, and there is not enough market information available, to fully analyze and evaluate all potential use case options.

Despegar will be analyzing other gTLD applications and general market adoption to determine potential use case options to most effectively serve and enhance its online strategy as a leading provider of travel services. Despegar helps customers in many parts of the world make various travel arrangements and reservations and aims to protect its customers and other Internet users from fraudulent information. The .HOTEIS gTLD will be operated in accordance with the company’s targeted focus by providing a trusted, hierarchical, secure, and intuitive namespace for Internet users searching for relevant content.

One of Despegar’s most important business segments is powering hotel reservations, and Portuguese-speaking individuals comprise one of its key customer demographics. The .HOTEIS gTLD will become one of Despegar’s core assets as it is intended to enhance Despegar’s online presence and identity; expand its marketing and promotion efforts; provide a secure channel for hotel bookings and reservations; and create a marketplace dedicated to Portuguese-speaking audiences and markets.

Despegar intends to initially limit registration and use of domain names within .HOTEIS to Despegar and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates. This initial limited use will allow Despegar to establish its operations and achieve full sustainability. This limited distribution, coupled with the other requirements set forth in Specification 9 of the template Registry Agreement, is intended to exempt Despegar from its annual Code of Conduct Compliance requirements."[8]